Ever thought of… Mere?

Date Posted: 08/08/2017

Mere is located in the south west corner of Wiltshire, beneath the South West Wiltshire Downs, making it a scenic destination for you to visit and explore.

Mere may only be a small town but you’d be surprised at how much there is to see and do there. The name ‘Mere’ is derived from Anglo Saxon ‘meri’ referring to marshy ground of lakes and arises from the spring line where the chalk downlands meet the clay lower lands. 

The town lies on a ridge or ‘ridgeway’ where the three Saxon shires of Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset meet.

A little bit of history

The ridgeway was used throughout prehistory, with several Iron Age hill forts in the area providing a wealth of archaeological interest for passers-by. 

The 16th century saw cloth making in Mere well established and from the late 17th century flax, which was spun and woven into linen, became an important local crop. 

In 1670, four years after the Great Fire of London, Mere had its own great fire. A total of 54 houses were destroyed and so much of Mere now is of the characteristic local stone and dates from the late 17th century. 

The 11th century St Michael the Archangel Church contains a unique Charles II royal coat of arms.

Places to visit

Hillbrush has been manufacturing cleaning equipment in Mere since 1922 and has just opened a brand new visitor centre, Visit Hillbrush, the only brush museum in the UK. This free museum celebrates the 95-year history of the Coward family brush-ware and hygienic cleaning tools business. Admission is free and the newly located building also includes a gift shop, restaurant and artisan coffee bar.

The Mere Museum, founded in 1970 boasts a collection of over 7,000 items for visitors to find out about the history of Mere and provides a three-monthly changing exhibition. 

Amazing views and countryside pursuits

Groups looking for a great photo stop should visit Castle Hill, located looking across the town, where once a Medieval fortification existed.

The Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding National Beauty is the sixth largest in the country and considered nationally as one of the most rural protected landscapes. It is characterised by the lynchets, which are ridges formed by ancient ploughing. 

There are also a walking route and horse riding route along the many miles of woodland tracks and open downland, while local cycle routes and clay shooting provide for both leisurely and more challenging expeditions. 

For animal lovers there's the Bush Farm Bison Centre and Longleat Safari Park nearby. For those with horticultural interests, there's plenty of greenery and gardens such as the Stourton House Flower Garden and Larmer Tree Gardens.

Poppy field near Mere

Pictured: Poppy field near Mere (photo credit: VisitEngland/VisitWiltshire and Chris Lock)

Events and entertainment

Every year residents run the Mere Literary Festival, this year set for the 9th to 15th October, which includes a literary competition, alternating each year between poetry and short-story writing, plus events for children. 

There is also a carnival in September with entertainment in the afternoon and an illuminated evening parade. Most summer weekends see an event in the Town Square.

Where to eat and drink

A cup of tea or a light meal are available at the Angel Corner Tea Rooms or a little further away there’s the Beatons Tea Rooms or the Visit Hillbrush Restaurant.

Alternatively, in the neighbouring village of Horningsham on the Longleat Estate, The Bath Arms is a popular choice for dining as it serves traditional British home grown food.

Where to stay?

Groups wanting an overnight stay have a wealth of accommodation choices when visiting Mere and the surrounding Wiltshire location. Nearby accommodation options include The Folly at Castlebridge, Cornerways Cottage, the Spread Eagle Inn and Stourhead Gardens Bed & Breakfast.

What’s nearby?

The National Trust house and breath-taking 18th century garden at Stourhead is nearby with its series of follies and temples.

Mere is also only 15 miles to the 16th century house of the Longleat estate which is group friendly, offering plenty to enjoy such as guided tours, galleries, ground exploration and animals.

For further information, visit www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/mere

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