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Shaftesbury Abbey Museum and Garden

The museum and gardens re-open for the season on Saturday 23 March 2024.

Please explore our website and we look forward

to seeing you next month. 

Admission is free, donations gratefully received

to support this independent charity.

Dogs on leads welcome. Gift Shop & Refreshments.


If you would like to join our friendly team of volunteers then click here.


Situated in a commanding position with views over the Blackmore Vale, close to the famous Gold Hill, the ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey lie in a peaceful walled garden. The museum brings to life the story of the abbey and the people who lived there.

In AD 888, King Alfred the Great founded in Shaftesbury the first great abbey just for women. His second daughter was installed as the first Abbess, and for six and a half centuries the community and buildings grew and flourished. By the time of Henry VIII this had become the wealthiest and most important Benedictine nunnery in England, dominating and serving the town and lands around.

It was the last abbey to be destroyed by Henry VIII in 1539. Only the foundations survive and items recovered in archaeological excavations are now displayed in the museum, alongside a digital representation of how the Abbey may have looked.


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