28 January 2018

Shaftesbury: crumbs!

Not being English, I didn’t understand the significance of Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill. A quick google revealed that Shaftesbury had been founded as a fortified settlement (a burgh) way back in 880 by King Alfred the Great, and that the picture-postcard cottages of Gold Hill had been built around the 17th century.

But it was bread-making firm Hovis and now-world-famous film director Ridley Scott who forever implanted Gold Hill in the psyche of the English when they chose this location for their 1973 television advertisement. The ad (you can see it here) was subsequently voted ‘Britain's favourite television ad’, and people’s visions of Shaftesbury were forever linked with the image of that young boy pushing his bicycle up Gold Hill.

Gold Hill has also featured in episodes of those classic English comedies The Two Ronnies and Only Fools and Horses, in films, and on the covers of books – heck, it even has its own website

This modern bench is very well placed and a rather beautiful work of art.

As you can see, the apparently magnificent views of the beautiful Dorset countryside were somewhat obscured on the day I visited but I rather liked the evocative atmosphere created by the fog. It gave more of a sense of the hill’s long history.

At the bottom, looking back up.

My guide promised me a giant Hovis loaf but it was nowhere to be seen – apparently it was getting a bit mouldy around the edges and needed re-crusting, as this article explains.