Sturminster Newton is situated at a historic fording point on the Stour. The ford was replaced in the 16th century with a six-arch stone bridge. A 19th-century plaque affixed to the stonework states that anyone damaging the bridge would be transported to Australia as a felon.
Thomas Hardy lived in Sturminster Newton from 1876 to 1878 after he married Emma Gifford. He said that his home was ‘idyllic’ and described his years there as being among the happiest of his life. The house is now a private home.
Sturminster Mill dates from the 17th century but a mill was in the same spot in the Domesday survey. It’s one of several that have dominated the banks of the Stour over the centuries. It was once a place for hiding contraband liquor and is now a working tourist attraction.
The recently revived White Hart is an old coaching Inn with a date of 1708 on its front wall Although it may be even older. In 1729 a fire tore through Sturminster leaving two buildings standing, the White Hart and St Mary’s Church. The Inn is reputedly haunted. One ghost is a woman in victorian clothing who walks the ground floor and bar area, some say cleaning! now under new management it has quickly established itself as a friendly and very traditional public house with music and food.
A fifteenth century medieval bridge with six arches guards the southern entrance to Sturminster. Half way across it bears the threat of ‘Transportation for life’ for anyone who vandalises it. The ancient bridge has stood the test of time more recently surviving numerous car crashes into its ancient walls. Thomas Hardy famously wrote about the bridge in his poem “On Sturminster Bridge”
Another well known literary name of Sturminster Newton is Dorset dialect poet Robert Young. Popular for his wit and style, Young was something of a local celebrity. His riverside home, The Hive, also included the ownership of nearby ‘Riverside’ Villas in which Thomas Hardy and his wife were tenants. Young died in 1907 aged 97! His basket travel chair in which he could often be seen travelling around the streets of Sturminster is now on display at the town museum