One historian has called it the “land of the living dead”, the soft chalk hills surrounding Marlborough once the home of prehistoric man, who has left his mark with ancient tumuli and tombs that remain a magical landscape for visitors.
King John was married in Marlborough, granted it a charter creating a borough whose Mayors date back to 1204. Cromwell captured it from the Royalists and built the parish church of St Mary’s, whose bells chime out from its tower.
And the High Street, the widest in the country, holds its own fascination with The Merchant’s House, the home in 1653 of silk merchant Thomas Bayly, plus the hustle and bustle of shops, pubs and restaurants galore.
On The Green nearby is the house where William Golding, Nobel prize-winning author of Lord of the Flies grew up, one reason why Marlborough has its own Literary Festival – and two music festivals – MantonFest, now a regaular annual event on a Saturday at the end of June and the new Marlborough Rising, held in four venues across the town over a weekend.
And to give Marlborough a royal touch there is Marlborough College, where the Duchess of Cambridge was a student before going to university, meeting and marrying Prince William, the future King.
The River Kennet, a rare chalk stream, flows through the town and surrounding villages, some overlooking Savernake Forest, itself a former royal hunting ground now accessible to all. There is a very good history of Savernake and the Forest on the website of Savernake Parish Council. It is written by renowned local historian John Chandler.
The town lies in the heart of the western section of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Marlborough also boasts many listed buildings, details of some of the notable examples can be found here.
Marlborough also offers visitors free WiFi Access: he Marlborough Area Development Trust’s Free Community WiFi system is accessible through at least fifty points across the town and in villages such as Aldbourne, Avebury, Lockeridge and Ramsbury. Businesses will display the adjacent sign, but the service is often accesible even if there isn’t a sign visible as each hub can cover a wide area. How to use? Users visit a simple web portal and are given the option of choosing either 20 mins free WiFi (no details required) or registering for an annual ‘Passport’ (which costs £10.00), then allowing the user access via two devices, without having to log in, whenever they are in the vicinity of one of the numerous Free Community WiFi access points around the town and beyond. Click here to find out where the Community WiFi system covers, and click here to find out more about the service.
Below is a guide to the town and key places of interest in the surrounding area. Click on each of the listed sections to discover more…