Published on : Tuesday, February 7, 2017
There is countryside within 10 minutes’ walk of the High Street in almost any direction. Avebury stone circles and the ancient Savernake Forest are literally on the doorstep and the River Kennet, a fine example of a chalk stream flows just yards from the town centre. Despite its perfect location, the town has remained unspoilt, retaining its historic charm.
Evidence found shows that Marlborough was the earliest centre of human settlement in Britain, justifying its reputation as the ‘Gateway to Ancient Britain’. After the Norman Conquest, the keep of a motte-and-bailey castle was built on a prehistoric archaeological mound in what are now the grounds of Marlborough College. Legend tells us that the Marlborough Mound is the burial place of Merlin, King Arthur’s magician. King John gave the town its first Royal Charter in 1204 granting its status as a market town and gave permission for the fairs which continue today.
During the Middle Ages and after the Wars of the Roses, the castle fell into ruins and the estate passed into the hands of the Seymour family, Henry VIII’s in-laws. In 1653 there was a great fire in Marlborough which spread to burn the Guildhall and 244 houses to the ground. Marlborough is on the old Bath Road from London to the west; the town became a favourite watering hole for both horses and travellers in the past and its welcome to visitors continues today.
Things to see and do
The handsome former staging post of Marlborough has evolved into a stylish and cosmopolitan town with its own chic café culture, offering a unique blend of attractions and facilities. With a twice-weekly market, its High Street is one of the widest in Europe, lined on both sides with characterful old buildings housing an array of high quality shops. Don’t forget to explore the side streets, riverside parks and green spaces too.
Visit The Merchant’s House on the High Street, one of the finest 17th century middle class homes open to the public in England. It contains a wealth of period features, paintings and artefacts. Also on the High Street is St Peter’s Church, now a community centre with a gallery and café.
The Marlborough White Horse lies in the grounds of Marlborough College and is the smallest white horse in Wiltshire – it was cut in 1804 by a group of schoolboys.
Annual Events & Entertainment
The Marlborough Literature Festival runs every September attracting a wide range of respected authors and offers an absolute feast of writing, tales and poetry. Every summer Marlborough College runs the over 600 courses and an array of eclectic entertainment as part of Marlborough College Summer School. Marlborough hosts an Open Studios event in July when local artists showcase their work and the Mop Fairs take place over two weekends in October.