CERNE ABBAS

Cerne Abbas is the archetypal Dorset village, quintessentially English and famous for its giant.

It was Thomas Hardy’s ‘Abbot’s-Cernel’. The Cerne Abbas giant is a 180ft high chalk male figure carved out into the steeply sloping hill, overlooking the village.

His provenance is uncertain. Some believe that he represents the Roman god, Hercules, and is over 1500 years old.

However, that’s pure speculation because there are no known records before 1694. He is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of The National Trust.

Cerne Abbas grew up around the great Benedictine abbey, which was founded here in AD987. For more than 500 years, the abbey dominated the area but was largely destroyed in 1539 during the Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. It’s still possible to see the remains of the Abbot’s Porch and Abbey Guesthouse from the top of Abbey Street. St Augustine’s Well, reputedly blessed by the saint, is also well worth a visit.

Cerne Abbas was also once famous for its brewery. The beer found its way to London and America. There were once no fewer than 14 public houses, serving visitors and a population of about 1500. This was a wealthy market town as well as a centre of small industry including milling, tanning, silk weaving, glove and hat making.

There’s much about Cerne Abbas that’s well worth seeing and Plumber Manor is only a short distance away and considered one of the finest country house hotels near Cerne Abbas.

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