Gold Hill, Dorset - the perfect English street

Beauty Spot

Gold Hill, Dorset - the perfect English street

Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town of Shaftesbury, Dorset, lined by ancient cottages of different shapes and sizes including thatched and tiled. The view has been described as 'one of the most romantic sights in Britain' and became famous in 1973, when bakers Hovis used the location for its 'Boy on Bike' TV advertisement.

Gold Street runs beside buttressed walls of the precinct, the grounds surrounding Shaftesbury Abbey which was built by King Alfred the Great. The walls themselves are presumed to have been built in the 1360s.

At the top of the street is the 14th-century St Peter's Church - one of the few buildings remaining in the town from before the 18th century. The former Priest's House is adjacent to the church, and is now one of two buildings that accommodate Gold Hill Museum. It still has a 'squint' enabling churchgoers to look through the wall to St Peter's Church. The other museum building once provided basic lodgings for traders at the market on Gold Hill.

The 1973 Hovis advert helped Gold Hill to become a very popular tourist attraction. In the commercial, a boy strenuously pushes his bicycle up Gold Hill to deliver a loaf of bread, before speedily freewheeling back down. It has since been voted Britain's favourite advert. It was directed by Ridley Scott, later to become a celebrated filmmaker and Knighted. To this day, the hill is sometimes referred to as 'Hovis Hill'.

Further reading

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