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Marlborough Town Centre

Home > Wiltshire > Weekend Escapes | Walks | Long Weekend | Escape the City
by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Published May 15th 2015
Marlborough is one of those charming English country towns with a rich historical background and a great atmosphere. Hidden in a valley, as you drive down from the north you can see the whole town spread out in front of you, and from the south you wind down a hill to discover it below.

Architecturally there's a great range of buildings as you wander through the time. This area has been inhabited for centuries, and it shows. The Normans and Tudors left their mark, visible alongside Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian buildings, to name just a few.

tudor, pub, marlborough
Tudor Building in town centre (now a pub)

There's only one official hotel in Marlborough, but with a good number of pubs offering bed and breakfast, you should be able to find somewhere to stay.

The centre has parking down the open middle, with shops and cafes down each side. Bounded by a church at each end, it's a very picturesque area. On Saturdays and Wednesdays the large open space in the town centre, usually parking lots, turns into a bustling market scene, bringing town members and tourists together with local and visiting producers.

market, marlborough, parking, church
Town centre, with parking, churches & shops

If you're looking for something to do while you're in the area, golf, shooting, riding and even flying are all available in the local area. Just beyond the High Street there is a leisure centre. The pool is apparently lovely, and there's also a gym, with a range of fitness classes available.

If you just want to potter around then there is plenty of good shopping too. The town centre has a particularly good range of independent retailers, alongside some of the usual chains you would expect in a small town centre. Look out for the quirky places in particular. The Merchant's House, for example, combines being an eighteenth-century building of interest, with a shop. Round the corner a furniture shop delights in the name 'The Cat's Whiskers', while slightly up the hill a restaurant delights in the sophisticated name Godots Brasserie, modern style in a sixteenth-century building.

marlborough, shop, cats whiskers, furniture, wiltshire
The Cat's Whiskers

One famous resident was William Golding, author of books such as Lord of the Flies, and there's a blue plaque to him in the centre.

william, golding, blue, plaque, marlborough, wiltshire
Blue plaque to William Golding

Little alleyways lead you in and out of the centre in true unplanned country town style. You can wind in what feels like an aimless fashion and still end up in the centre.

marlborough, wiltshire, alley
Down an alley to the centre

It is well known for the public school at the end of the high street. Marlborough College has educated a number of important people since its foundation in 1843. The school is co-educational and insists on full boarding for all students, which means that there's a strong community atmosphere. The school prides itself on a sense of service, and working alongside the rest of the town is part of this. Famous alumni include the Duchess of Cambridge, William Morris, Siegfried Sassoon, Chris de Burgh and a number of British MPs; the school clearly educates people who go on to be successful in a great range of areas.

market, marlborough, parking, church
Down Marlborough High Street

Lying on the river Kennet, Marlborough is situated on the sides of a valley, with steep hills either side of the town centre. Energetic walking but potentially great views are therefore promised. You're close to White Horse formations in the countryside, and to other beautiful English country towns such as Calne. Even Salisbury is less than an hour away, with several routes out of Marlborough leading there.

marlborough, wiltshire, town, centre
Looking across the valley from the residential outskirts

Getting in and out of Marlborough is also slightly tricky. It's at the junction of the A338, A354 and A34, so driving is okay but there's limited parking in the town centre. There is no train station, so to arrive by train you'd probably need to go to Swindon.
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Why? A beautiful English country town
Where: Marlborough
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