Abbotsbury is a very old village, settled amongst the hills behind the great Chesil Bank, and is one of Dorset’s finest, with a history going back some 6,000 years. It has been influenced by man from the Neolithic Age and is overlooked by an Iron Age hill fort.
High above the village on a lonely hill stands the 14th century St Catherine’s Chapel, built as a place of pilgrimage and retreat by the monks of the former Abbotsbury Abbey. From here there are superb views of Chesil Beach below. Abbotsbury today features thatched cottages built from local stone, some dating from the 16th century.
Abbotsbury is world-renowned for its swannery. The popular bird sanctuary is 600 years old and home to over 600 flying swans. It is the only place in the world where you can literally walk among the breeding, nesting and hatching birds.
Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens
A short walk from the village is Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens. Founded in 1765, the gardens have developed into a 20-acre site filled with exotic plants.
There are formal and informal gardens, woodland walks and walled gardens. Abbotsbury’s central position along Chesil Beach also makes it a great base to explore the rich wildlife of the Fleet Lagoon.
The Jurassic Coast Trust has collaborated with Abbotsbury Tourism to produce a family-friendly “Jurassic Trail” through the Gardens, available at the entrance for a suggested donation of £2.