Marlborough. Archetypical English market town in the rural north east corner of Wiltshire. Built alongside the River Kennet and upon the historic London-Bristol road.
The name rings a bell…
It might well do. As well as being keeper of an interesting history, Marlborough is home to the beautiful and historic Marlborough College. The school is set on a stunning campus and has a rich heritage, but was catapulted into the media when a certain young lady who attended the school married into royalty. The Duchess of Cambridge was educated here.
Keeper of an interesting history, you say. Tell me more?
Marlborough has been a royal residence, been caught up in battle in the English Civil War and has three times been ravaged by fire. The town then went on to become an important stopping point on the old London-Bristol road and a wealthy market town, the history of which can be explored at The Merchants House. Visitors can walk through history via the Marlborough Blue Plaque walk. I liked the one pictured below marking the occasion of Shakespeare’s theatre company performing at the White Hart Inn. All the worlds a stage, hey?
That was then. Talk to me about modern day Marlborough?
The high street has a look of older times with one historic building after another tucked in between a church at either end. Half timbered buildings, old coaching inns and narrow lanes. Historic character, but it’s not a place stuck in the past.
For a rural town, Marlborough shopping is next level. A mix of shops, from independent boutiques to the high end of the high street. Some big names including Joules, Space NK and Susie Watson Designs. More places to eat than we’ll have time to sample, including a Rick Stein restaurant. Enough pubs to make a pub crawl a possibility, although I’m not sure how lively the nights would be. If you want to sit back and be entertained, there’s also an independent cinema housed in an old chapel. Scope here for a good day out, or a good night. Whichever is your pleasure.
And if I want to walk, not shop?
The high street might be a delight for would be shoppers, but it’s also a great place for wanderers. Random fact: Marlborough high street is the second widest in the UK. This makes it good for a walk up and round, one side and then the other. Along the way you’ll spot the narrow lanes and arcades typical of the town and, if you’re like me, get distracted peering and wandering. They lead to pretty gardens, historic courtyards and quirky corners.
I need a wilder, longer walk…
Take the path out of town, past the main gates of St Marlborough college. Veer left, cross the bridge over the River Kennet and a pretty woodland walk brings you to the quintessentially English St Georges church. Make time to wander the church yard, it’s a beauty. Loved and tended to but with just enough wild to it.
If you like your walks wild and long, from here you can pick up paths into the surrounding countryside towards Snaversake Forest or onto the 90 mile long White Horse Trail. Marlborough has it’s own white horse on the hill not far from St Georges.
If you want a walk that’s an adventure, take a short drive from Marlborough to Fyfield Down Nature Reserve and hike to the Devil’s Den. Being the remains of a burial chamber sat in a valley littered with sarsen stones, located on private land and barely signposted, it’s a tricky find but worth the effort.
Anything else worth a mention?
Yes…the post boxes. Look out for them, they’ve all been yarn bombed. Cheerful, colourful, brilliant. Bit like Marlborough itself, really.