Bruton: One of the world’s most influential art galleries Hauser and Wirth chose this town to locate their new gallery and it has one of the areas coolest restaurants: At the Chapel. Trendy types and celebs love Bruton. The only drawback – no direct train to London.
Bridport: Known locally as Notting-Hill-on-sea. A great market town with lots to offer: a busy arts centre, independent cinema, antique and vintage markets.
Frome: 10 minutes from Babington House, this characterful, charming town is famous locally for its art galleries and vintage shops. Frome’s picturesque cobbled streets and ancient buildings have been used in many films including popular BBC drama ‘Poldark’.
Tisbury: A cracking little town with a direct train to London. Cecil Beaton-inspired tea room, wine club and fantastic deli. Up the hill is the fabulous Beckford Arms. Good local RC primary school is nearby at Wardour.
Shaftesbury: Saxon hill top town with good shops, estate agents and turn bull’s deli and cheesemonger. The recently renovated Grosvenor Hotel is a great place to base yourself while house hunting.
Sherborne: A pretty town built out of honey- coloured ham stone. It has a train station, shops, cafés, schools, magnificent cathedral. One to live in as well as near.
Wimborne: the opening of Waitrose gave this town a much needed shot in the arm; high street chains and independents soon followed. Good for a Saturday mooch.
Ashmore: this village atop the Cranborne Chase, far from the madding crowd, with its dew pond and clock house always feels calm and beautiful.
Corton Denham: Windy romantic lanes peppered with a mix of cottages and smart houses. great for ramblers.
Donheads: Labyrinth of rolling lanes, coppices and footpaths. Popular with families at Port Regis, Sandroyd and St mary’s Shaftesbury. The nearby village of Semley has a well stocked community shop and popular primary school.
The Caundles: Mustard coloured houses in picturesque villages.
Milton Abbas: Chocolate box lovely with thatched cottages lining the high street. Great for weekenders.
Piddle Valley: Quintessentially Dorset. Ancient villages of thatched cottages and manor houses line the eponymous Piddle River that weaves its way through the downs towards Dorchester.
The Cheritons: Sound and look like something straight off the pages of a Jane Austen novel. Templecombe station is on their doorstep and is a direct line to London.