BURSTING with charm and steeped in history, Wimborne Minster is known as one of Dorset's prettiest places, with a plethora of historic buildings, bridges and the magnificent Minster.

A popular destination for day trippers, the town has a number of splendid independent speciality shops, restaurants and essential services, making it the perfect place to indulge in some retail therapy while enjoying the relaxed and laid back pace of life.

While Wimborne may boast an impressive array of historic buildings, bridges and monuments, the jewel in the crown is of course, the magnificent Minster.

Nestling between the rivers Allen and Stour, Wimborne Minster has a history dating back to the Saxon era. The twin-towered church has several fascinating historical features, including a rare chained library and an astronomical clock.

It also makes for a worthwhile visit as you look back at nearly 1,300 years of pilgrimage, prayer and worship.

As a parish church today it has a central place in the lives of its members and in the life of the town. It is not a museum, although it has inherited some wonderful treasures.

From whichever direction Wimborne is approached, the two towers of the Minster can be seen but the original design, which dates back to the 11th century, included a central spire said to rival that of Salisbury.

Records state that it apparently fell down during a Sunday service in 1600 and was never replaced. Instead, the tower was capped to match the top of the west tower.

Despite its 11th century roots, much of the building we see today dates from the 13th century. It was finally completed in the 15th century.

Thanks to their convenient location and beautiful surroundings, the towns and villages in East Dorset have witnessed rapid expansion since the sixties.

A charming model village, museum and nearby stately home, the art deco Tivoli theatre and cinema, numerous bridges crossing the Rivers Stour and Allen, and a large selection of elegant cafés and restaurants complete the street scene in this pretty town.

Whether you want to shop in its famous market, browse around the square or soak up the unique and historic architecture, there is plenty to enchant visitors.