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Gillingham is an historical town in the County of Dorset, and is situated in the beautiful Blackmore Vale. It is in fact the county's most northerly town. It's rich history spans centuries - Roman remains are still being unearthed today and a Stone Age barrow (Longbury Barrow) is testament that there has been a settlement in Gillingham for thousands of years. The name of the town is of particular interest to history boffs, especially as it is the only one of its kind in Dorset. Its earliest recording is in an Anglo-Saxon charter from the 10th Century, using the spelling used today. Other recorded interpretations of the name have been, Gelingham (in the Domesday Book), Gellingeham (1130), Gyllingeham (1152) and Gilingeham (1209). The area is certainly a great place for treasure hunting with a metal detector!
Gillingham really developed as a town in becoming a thriving centre for the local farming community. Dorset's first grammar school was built here in 1526 - and by the late 1700s had also become a mill town for the silk industry. By the end of the 1850s with the arrival of the railways Gillingham was flourishing with many a prosperous local industries, including butter and cheese production, brick making, printing houses, soap manufacture and more. Gillingham's location on the railway line has certainly established the town's popularity for commerce and industry. It is on the Exeter to London line, and is the only one in the district, which only adds to its popularity as both a commuter town and a place to set up business. It is now considered to be a very commercial and industrial town - Luckily it has retained its inner charm in way of 15th century architecture and prolific history! The Dorset literary legend, Thomas Hardy, used the town of Gillingham frequently in his novels, as, Leddenton. The great painter, John Constable, visited Gillingham a number of times during the 1820s and painted several pictures - including Gillingham Bridge and 'Parham Mill' both of which now hang in the Tate Gallery.
The town is home to a large shopping centre, which includes two supermarkets and a great, and varied, range of retail shops and business services. There is also a good and well-stocked library, a Youth Centre, three primary schools and a comprehensive school. The North Dorset Leisure Centre is located in Gillingham and boasts an indoor swimming pool, squash and badminton courts, sports hall and a gym. Both the Gillingham Football club and the North Dorset Ruby Football Club are well-equipped with smart grounds and club houses. Within the town and surrounding area over 100 clubs and societies are in active operation, providing entertainment and pastimes for all age groups. It is also the proud home to the only nightclub in North Dorset - Legends - situated in the centre of the industrial estate - Just so you know!
The area surrounding Gillingham is rather spectacular with many pretty little villages dotted about the hills and vales - Many a great pub to be found! It is a wonderful place to call home.
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