Places to Visit in the Local Area
The Kings Arms is situated in the historic village of Portesham Dorset, directly opposite the home of Thomas Hardy, the mariner not the writer! Portesham is 7 miles from Weymouth, 9 miles from Dorchester and 12 miles from Bridport, on the main coast road from Weymouth to Bridport. We are surrounded by the rolling hills of Dorset and are minutes from the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.
The village of Portesham is a typically picturesque Dorset village with many stone thatched cottages and it is steeped in history. The first record of the village appears to be in 1024 when King Canute grants land in Porteshamme to a man named Orc, one of his ministers.
Portesham House, an impressive late 18th-century building, stands opposite the Kings Arms and was the family home of Thomas Masterman Hardy, who would become Admiral Hardy (“Kiss Me, Hardy”), Captain of Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. Hardy was finally promoted to Vice-Admiral of the Navy and to honour his achievements, a monument was erected on Blackdown Hill, above Portesham.
Blackdown Hill is the highest point in Dorset, so there are some breathtaking 360-degree views of most of Dorset and on a clear day, it is even possible to see the Needles of the Isle of Wight. The Hardy Monument has recently been restored by the National Trust and is open to the public from Easter – Oct
Portesham lies below the South Dorset Ridgeway, so many stunning walks are directly accessible from the village. These include the Jubilee Trail, a 90-mile route right across Dorset, which runs from Forde Abbey on the Somerset border in the west to Bokerley Dyke in the northeast on the Hampshire border. A more modest, popular circular walk starts 1/4 mile from the Kings Arms, so a great place to finish your walk, with lunch and a drink. This circuit follows the inland coastal path and takes in Hardy’s Monument and the Hell Stone, a Neolithic tomb consisting of nine upright sarsen stones supporting a single capstone. Legend has it, the devil hurled the Hell Stone from Portland, whilst playing quoits!
Abbotsbury is 2 miles from Portesham and is famous for its Swannery and Subtropical Gardens. The Swannery was established in 1040 by monks and today is a natural habitat for 600 free-flying swans. The Subtropical Gardens were originally created as a kitchen garden in 1765, but since then have developed into 20 acres of rare and exotic plants, most of which were the first introductions to England.
4 miles from Portesham is Chesil Beach. Extraordinary not only for its length – 18 miles but also because it is separated from the mainland by an area of shallow water, known as the Fleet Lagoon. Famous in World War II for the testing of the so-called ‘Bouncing Bomb’, this has now become an extremely important area for many types of wildlife and lies at the centre of the fossil-filled Jurassic Coast, 95 miles of breath-taking coastline from East Devon to Dorset and a designated World Heritage Site.