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.
If you enjoyed this post you might also like 7 Reasons to Visit Romsey and A Walking Tour of Winchester.
Beautiful – especially the yarn on the post boxes 🙂
Thank you, I loved the post boxes. It’s so lovely that people invest time and creativity in things like that, isn’t it? Thanks for making the time to read and comment, always appreciated!
I LOVE that mailbox! 🙂
Brilliant isn’t it? Cheers up the streets beautifully!
Never visited Marlborough but am inspired to do so now Helen, it’s looks just my sort of town and those post boxes are a delight !
It’s a lovely place, I think if you’ve enjoyed places like Hungerford and Newbury then Marlborough would be a good choice too. It packs a punch for a fairly small place!
ah it’s delightful, isn’t it? The Polly Tea rooms, if still there were a favourite. If I may add one extra to the list of ‘reasons why…’ it’s the summer school at the College. We took the kids there for several years (they would have been about 8 when we started) because of the amazing courses for adults and children, catering for all tastes. I don’t know if its changed but it still runs (https://summerschool.co.uk/). It used to run for three weeks at the beginning of the summer school hols in July. It’s where I dipped my toe in creative writing in 2006, for the first time since school. Now, 15 years, 12 books and a blog later I’ve a lot to thank it for. We took my mother, then aged 79 and in a wheelchair, plus one of our teenagers and we all had a fabulous week of classes, evening entertainment, remarkably good food and laughs. I can’t recommend it enough. Sorry to proselytize here, Helen!! But it really was a favourite and just writing this makes me think about going back!!
I’m glad my post has brought back good memories. Polly’s is still going strong, although we’ve yet to sample. The college seems to be a huge part of the Marlborough community, we are back over next week for an event in the college chapel as part of the Dark Skies Festival. I hope you find your way back, it’s a lovely place and you have a great connection to it.
Pretty place, and I love the yarn bombing.
Thanks Anabel, the yarn bombing is brilliant. I wish I had the ability to do similar. My efforts would be kindly described as abstract if I tried, I suspect!
Yes, my ability is similar!
You’ve got me hooked! And so many possibilities for walking, Helen.
What a gorgeous town, and with such indecently kitsch shops into the bargain. i want to go there NOW. Congrats also on layout. Your sub-titles made the content so much more interesting and enjoyable. A great post.
Thank you so much, I’m hoping to return dog ( and husband) free so I can dive into the shops a bit more!
It is indeed a lovely little town.
H i Helen, Lovely Marlborough blog – any chance we can share on the Town Council website/fb/instagram?
Oh yes, please do! I would love that, thank you so much 😊
I’ve often driven through Marlborough on the way to visit a friend who lives near Calne. Sometimes, I just want to take a scenic route rather than the M4. Your post has made me think that I really should spend some significant time exploring the town. Independent shops, wonderful walks and beautifully decorated postboxes. What’s not to love? Great post!
Thank you, it’s definitely worth a little detour. Funnily enough, Calne is on the list for a visit soon. I’ve walked in the countryside around it but not made it into town yet. It’s funny how you can be close to a place often and yet never quite get to it
Why have I never visited Marlborough? It’s time I put that right, and you provide the incentive!
I have never heard about this town and that’s very pitty! Marlborough looks so beautiful… all those small streets, cozy cafes, and surprises behind every corner. That’s what I like so much! There is so much charm in your photos! I would love to visit Marlborough and explore it by myself so much! ♥ Thanks for this great post!
It’s very many years since I was in Marlborough but it’s clear from your post that a return is long overdue. I love to poke around little lanes like these, and the lure of independent shops and good pubs is strong. If you’re able to throw in an equally independent coffee shop, that would be even better!
I spotted a few indy coffee shops, one was also a book shop which is a definite bonus! I’m back over in Marlborough this week so will hopefully make time for a coffee, or two. All in the name of research, of course…
Sounds promising – I love a coffee shop in a book shop!
I have only ever driven through Marlborough on my way to visit my son in Tidworth and thought it looked like a nice town. Seems like it could make a lovely base from which to explore the surrounding area. Thanks for such an interesting post (I got here via Jo’s walks).
Thank you for your kind comments. Marlborough seems to be a town lots of people pass by or through. It makes me happy to stir up a bit of interest in the place. Tidworth is nice enough too!
That church looks interesting, at least the wall in the first of the photos. Is it rubble with blocks of tuff?
I think it’s flint and stone which is a traditional method in this area. I’ll have to take a closer look next time I’m over there. Thank you taking the time to read and comment, much appreciated.
what a lovely place! and hats for post boxes!