Bridge Over The River Stour

Wimborne Visitor Guide


Wimborne in Dorset, a brief insight into its history.

Wimborne lies on the River Stour, being situated at the convergence of the River Stour and River Allen, just five miles north of Poole. It was initially a Saxon settlement and the foundation of the Wimborne Minster dates back to the beginning of the 8th century. This was a foundation for both men and women according to sources. The present Minster, which dominates the town with its twin dappled brown towers, dates back to the 12th century.


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that Cuthberga, sister of King Ina of Wessex (688-726), founded a nunnery at Wimborne in or around the year 705 AD. In around 1013, the nunnery was destroyed by the Danes. King Edward the Confessor created a college of secular canons in 1043. Nothing of the collegiate buildings survive, but the medieval church itself does remain.


Between 1120 and 1180 the minster was remodelled and rebuilt by the Normans. The thirteenth-century spire which once topped this tower collapsed during a storm around 1600.


Wimborne Minster is famed for its unique Chained Library which was founded in 1686 by the Reverend William Stone as a free library for the people of Wimborne, making it one of the very first free libraries. The children in the town's orphanages and residents of the workhouse made the chains. These are fine figure of eight chains (comparable to those designed by Michelangelo for the Lorentian library in Florence) which are fixed to the fronts of the books by a metal hasp. The library is one of only four in England.


The church is also renowned for the tomb 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. The church is the home of an astronomical clock, one of a group of famous 14th to 16th century astronomical clocks to be found in the west of England.


Shortly after Charles I was beheaded his coat of arms was painted out at the church, but on the restoration of Charles II the arms were speedily replaced and have now been restored. Wimborne did not attempt to oppose either King or Protector during the Civil War and its aftermath.

The town is deemed to have one of the finest collections of fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth century buildings in Dorset.


Wimborne railway station opened in June 1847 and closed finally in May 1977. In its heyday, from the mid 1860s until the mid 1880s, as well as being an important station in its own right on the London main line, it was the point of interchange for a number of other railways.


The Tivoli Theatre was built in the 1930s as an art deco cinema and theatre, where the convention of showing both films and live stage shows continues to the present day.

The model town is one of the largest and most well-known in England. It depicts Wimborne at the time it was made in the 1950s.


Disclaimer: The information in this Tourist Guide has been researched from a variety of sources including books, articles and online information. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information the reader should check any specific facts for themselves before making any decisions based upon the said information.

Wimborne Tourist Information Centre

29 High Street
BH21 1HR

01202 886116


Wimborne Community Hospital

Victoria Road
BH21 1ER


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015