Shaftesbury Abbey was steeped in history until it was a victim of Henry Vlll’s dissolution of the monasteries.
The young Saxon king, Edward, was buried at the Abbey with great ceremony in 979 after he was murdered at nearby Corfe Castle, allegedly by his step-mother, to make way for his step brother, Ethelred, later known as Ethelred the Unready. King Canute reputedly so loved Shaftesbury that he issued instructions for his heart to be buried at the Abbey. Robert the Bruce’s wife, Elizabeth, was detained for two years at the Abbey and Catherine of Aragon stayed here on her way to London to marry Prince Arthur, the elder brother of King Henry VIII.
Shaftesbury was the “Shaston” of Thomas Hardy’s novels. The centre of Shaftesbury comprises a fine collection of historic buildings and there’s Gold Hill, the most famous hill in Shaftesbury, made famous by the Hovis Bread advertisement. This is the steep cobbled street, with old picturesque cottages either side, that dates back to Saxon times, the epitome of historic rural charm.
There’s much about Shaftesbury that’s well worth seeing and Plumber Manor is only a short distance away and considered one of the finest country house hotels near Shaftesbury.