Gold Hill, Shaftesbury

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Coordinates: 51°00′18″N 2°11′50″W / 51.005057°N 2.197191°W / 51.005057; -2.197191

Gold Hill with buttressed precinct wall to right
Viewed from the bottom
Hovis bread monument at Gold Hill

Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town of Shaftesbury in the English county of Dorset. The view looking down from the top of the street has been described as "one of the most romantic sights in England."[1] The view appears on the covers of many books[example needed] about Dorset and rural England, as well as on chocolate boxes and calendars.

At the top of the street is the 14th-century St Peter's Church, one of the few buildings remaining in Shaftesbury from before the 18th century. Adjacent to the church is the former Priest's House (Sun and Moon Cottage), which is still part of the Gold Hill Museum building but now houses a shop.

The ancient cobbled street runs beside buttressed walls, a scheduled monument,[2] of the precinct, which are the grounds surrounding ancient Shaftesbury Abbey, built by King Alfred the Great. The origins of the wall are not known, but are presumed to have been built in the 1360s, when the abbess or other authority was given royal permission to build town defences.[3]

Each year the town hosts the Gold Hill Fair to raise money for local charities.[4]

In media[edit]

Gold Hill has also been used as a setting for film and television. It appears in the 1967 film version of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd.[5]

The street is the main setting for the 1973 "Boy on Bike" television advertisement for Hovis bread, which has been voted Britain's favourite advertisement of all time.[5][6] It was directed by Ridley Scott, and includes the main theme from the slow movement of Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9.[7] For this reason, the hill is still sometimes referred to as "Hovis Hill".[5]

Gold Hill also featured in an advert for supermarket Morrisons.[citation needed] The tops of some of the houses along Gold Hill appear on the cover of J. K. Rowling's book The Casual Vacancy.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Hyams, J., The Batsford Colour Book of Dorset, B. T. Batsford Ltd, 1975, p54
  2. ^ Abbey precinct wall on Gold Hill, Historic England, 17 September 2019. Retrieved 17 September 2019
  3. ^ "Gold Hill's wall gets a weeding". BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Gold Hill Fair". Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Davidson, Max. "Hovis Hill: is this the greatest street since sliced bread?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Jets, jeans and Hovis". The Guardian. 13 June 2015.
  7. ^ Andrew O'Hagan, "The future sounds rosier with Hovis", The Daily Telegraph, 3 May 2006. Retrieved 9 October 2009