Did you know?

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.

Sturminster Newton Celebrates Local Writers at its First Festival

Visitors came from as far away as London for Sturminster Newton’s first Literary Festival. The town celebrated its rich literary connection to Thomas Hardy, William Barnes, and Robert Young with  the launch of a new walk with landmarks linked to the writers. Local businesses hosted authors in cafes and shops, and several people dressed in Victorian clothes for the day.

Dorset writers Rosanna Ley, David Caddy and Lulu Taylor gave interesting talks about their books. Both locals and visitors were treated to an entertaining lesson by David Fox on How to Speak “Dorset Dialect”, including readings of Barnes poetry. The connections to Hardy, Barnes and Young proved popular with visitors who enjoyed talks by Roger Guttridge, David Fox, and Dr Alan Chedzoy. Local writer Dr Gail Aldwin delivered a successful workshop to aspiring authors on A Sense of Place. A Victorian fancy dress competition brought a celebratory atmosphere to the town despite the rain. The festival concluded with a rousing celebration of Dorset writers at the Exchange by the William Barnes Society and New Hardy Players.  Festival organiser Michaela Knowles said:”

Sturminster Newton Literary Festival will begin planning the 2020 event shortly. Those interested in being involved should contact friendsofsturlibrary@hotmail.co.uk. Literary walk leaflets are available from Sturminster Newton Museum.

Quick facts about our town

Sturminster highlights

Oxfords Bakery, run by fourth generation baker Steve Oxford, uses equipment dating back to the early 1900s. Its a traditional artisan bakery, with a very modern owner, and a town highlight.

Hansons is one of the largest craft and fabric warehouses in the South of England. With over 20 000 rolls of fabric, as well as sewing machines, wools, patterns and a myriad of craft utensils, its no surprise it attracts loyal customers from far and wide.

Or visit Harts of Stur – owned and run by Philip Hart and now nearly 100 years old. It’s a cookware specialist but sells everything you ever need for your home. From tiny picture screws to Christmas lights, coffee pots and wellington boots. Its a local treasure.

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