Forum developed as one of the major market towns in the eastern
part of Dorset during the later medieval period. The main reason
for its development was that the main roads from Salisbury to
Dorchester and from Poole to Shaftesbury met there to cross
the River Stour.
growing significance of the town was recognised in 1605 when
it was formally incorporated as a borough with its own portreeve
(or mayor) and burgesses. The town was one of the polling places
for county elections and was also home to the Bishop of Bristol's
registry for the archdeaconry of Dorset until the county was
transferred to the diocese of Salisbury in 1836.
In 1713 and again in 1731, the town was destroyed by fire. The
first blaze decimated much of the eastern part of the town.
The second and more serious destroyed virtually everything that
had survived the first fire so that the only buildings remaining
today that predate these two catastrophes are the Old House
c.1660 in The Close, and the Ryves Almshouses c.1682 in Salisbury
After the fire of 1731 the town was rebuilt according to the
earlier street pattern except that the central part of the market
place was left as open space. Today Blandford Forum is one of
the best preserved Georgian market towns in England. The majority
of the buildings in the centre of the town date from the period
Bastard brothers, John and William, local architects, entrepreneurs
and politicians, were responsible for the rebuilding programme.
The completion of the programme was commemorated by the erection
of the Fire Monument. Designed and paid for by John Bastard
and located on the eastern side of the market place in 1760,
it stands "in grateful Acknowledgement if the Divine Mercy,
that has raised this Town, like a phoenix from it's ashes, to
its present beautiful and flourishing State."
commercial prosperity of the town was greatly enhanced by the
deliberate destruction of the neighbouring market town of Milton
Abbas between 1771 and 1790 by the Earl of Dorchester, who replaced
it with a more modest model village. Blandford Forum grew steadily
in the nineteenth century with the development of housing along
Dorset and Orchard Streets, and later after the arrival of the
railway, in streets running off from Salisbury Road.
1960 the town had a population of 3000 - today the figure is
closer to 8500. The attractive town centre bustles with 135
shops, restaurants, pubs, bistros and cafes. There are regular
markets and industry thrives on the edges of the town.