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This article is about the town. For the church, see Wimborne Minster (church).

Coordinates: 50°48′14″N 1°58′41″W / 50.804°N 1.978°W / 50.804; -1.978

Wimborne Minster

Wimborne Minster, Wimborne, Dorset
Population 14,884 (2001 census)
OS grid reference SU015005
District East Dorset
Shire county Dorset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WIMBORNE
Postcode district BH21
Dialling code 01202
Police Dorset
Fire Dorset
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Mid Dorset and North Poole
List of places

Wimborne Minster (often referred to as Wimborne, /ˈwɪmbɔrn/) is a market town in the East Dorset district of Dorset in South West England, and the name of the Church of England church in that town. The central town has a population of 6,418 (according to the 2001 Census) and is situated at the confluence of the River Stour and River Allen, five miles north of Poole, on the Dorset Heaths.

The Mayor of Wimborne is currently Andy Hampton.[1] The town and its administrative area is served by eleven councillors and one from the nearby ward of Cranfield.[2] Wimborne is twinned with Valognes, France and Ochsenfurt, Germany.[3][4]

Buildings and architecture

The architecture of Wimborne is regarded as one of the foremost collections of 15th, 16th and 17th-century buildings in Dorset. Local planning has restricted the construction of new buildings in areas such as the Corn Market and the High Street, resulting in the preservation of almost all of the original buildings. The most interesting examples of English architecture include the centuries-old Wimborne Minster, the Town Hall, the Priest's House Museum and dozens of original 16th, 17th and 18th-century fronted shops and pubs. The town is also home to the Tivoli Theatre, a 1930s art deco cinema and theatre.

Wimborne Minster Church

This is a Saxon Church, with Norman and Gothic architecture. It is famed for its chained library and the tombs of King Ethelred, the brother of Alfred the Great, as well as the tombs of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, and his duchess, the maternal grandparents of King Henry VII of England.[5] This is made of Dorset Limestone and New Forest Stone to keep it strong.

Wimborne Model Town

Main article: Wimborne Model Town

The model town is one of the largest and most established model towns in England. It depicts Wimborne at the time the model was made, in the 1950s. It is at 1/10 scale, resulting in the model of the Minster being several feet high. The model shop windows accurately show the goods which the real shops were selling at the time. The exhibition also includes a model railway based on Thomas the Tank Engine, which was opened by Christopher Awdry.


On weekends and national holidays, the town crier can be seen in the main square and around the Minster.[6] The legacy and position of the town crier date back to the Civil War. The town has a large civil war re-enactment society, which performs every year.

The town has a well-established and large market. The market is held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was previously located in the Town Centre but moved out several years ago to a site on the edge of town to accommodate its size.[7]

Every year Wimborne hosts the longest fireworks display in Dorset, as part of its Guy Fawkes celebrations; a county record that it has held since 2004. The bonfire and pyrotechnics display is held each year in the grounds of St Michael's Church of England Middle School and is well supported by many thousands of people from the town, Colehill village and the surrounding area. All proceeds are donated each year to local schools, and since 2004 over £61,000 has been raised for local school projects and equipment.[8]

Every two years in mid-August, the Park Initiative, an inter-church charity working on Leigh Park estate, holds a community event called "Alive in the Park" in the centre of the estate using a large marquee.[9]

Wimborne Minster Folk Festival

Every summer in June the town holds the Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.[10] Founded in 1980, the annual event of traditional folk dance and song has become the focal point for one of the largest gathering of dance teams and musicians in the South of England. The festival is considered by many to be the town's major event of the year and is highly regarded nationally. The festival involves Morris Dancing, Appalachian dancing, concerts, workshops and children's activities. The regional festival is attended by over 20,000 people across its weekend, with parts of the town being closed to traffic.

Notable people

Twin towns

Wimborne Minster is twinned with


Wimborne has many pubs. Many of these pubs are centuries old, with some dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Below is a list of pubs in central Wimborne.

  • The Coach and Horses
  • The Cricketers Arms
  • The Rising Sun
  • The Bell
  • The Albion
  • The King's Head
  • The Oddfellows Arms
  • The White Hart
  • The Green Man
  • The Olive Branch
  • The Man In The Wall
  • The Crown and Anchor

Education and schools

The Town has three First Schools (St John's First School, Wimborne First School and Merley First School) and two Middle Schools (St Michaels Middle School and Allenbourn Middle School). Wimborne First School, formerly Wimborne Primary School, has been educating the children of Wimborne Minster to primary level, since 1911.[13] Wimborne and the area of Merley are served by two Upper Schools in the local region: Corfe Hills School and Queen Elizabeth's School.

Queen Elizabeth's School, has very close links with the Minster and was founded by Lady Margaret Beaufort in 1497. After her death the school became Wimborne Grammar School. Although the Grammar School buildings still remain they have now been converted to flats. The school was established on its current site in 1972 after the merging of Wimborne Grammar School and the County Modern School.

Perhaps the most famous of educational institutions in Wimborne is the private St Catherine's in Colehill. The nearby first schools of Hayeswood and Colehill also serve Wimborne.


Wimborne Rugby Club has been in existence in its present format since 1950 and is located at Leigh Park, Gordon Road on the eastern side of the market town of Wimborne. The Club boasts two playing pitches, changing rooms and a Clubhouse, comprising a large bar and function room, shop and excellent catering facilities. The Club supports a full range of teams from Minis through Juniors and Colts to Senior XVs, including a Veterans team and a very successful Girls/Ladies team.

The local football club Wimborne Town F.C. play in the Southern Football League.


Many residents and visitors of Wimborne are elderly, and in 2009 official statistics proved Wimborne to have the highest life expectancy for both men and women in the UK, with 9 out of 10 women expected to reach 75.[14]


The historically important aerospace company Cobham plc has headquarters in Wimborne and employs a large proportion of its residents. The economy of the main town is dedicated towards Leisure and has many shops, restaurants and pubs. Tourism is an important aspect in the town's economy. The town is also served by a Waitrose located on the old Cricket green and a Co-Operative supermarket.

Wimborne railway station

From 1847 to 1977 Wimborne was served by a two platform railway station.[15] The station was built for Southampton and Dorchester Railway, later part of the London and South Western Railway. It was later expanded when the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway was constructed between Bath and Poole. Wimborne was as a reversing point on the Somerset and Dorset, but its importance was reduced when an avoiding line was built from Bailey Gate to Broadstone, Dorset. The station also had a large goods yard, of which the present site today is occupied by the weekly Wimborne Market. The station was closed to passengers in 1964 and sundries (parcels and light goods) in 1966 as a result of the Beeching Axe programme.[16] The final goods trains ran in May 1977.


External links

  • Wimborne Minster and Christchurch Priory by Rev.Thomas Perkins. A Short History of Their Foundation and a Description of Their Buildings
  • Census data
  • Wimborne Minster
  • Wimborne Minster Folk Festival
  • Wimborne Town Council
  • Wimborne Bonfire and Fireworks Evening
  • Wimborne Drama - local Am Dram Group
  • Wimborne First School
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