Dorchester Town Council

Borough Gardens

The Borough Gardens were laid out to a plan by William Goldring of Kew, and were opened to the public on 30th July 1896.  Although never closed the Gardens were ‘opened' again on 7th May, 2007 by oscar-winning local resident Julian Fellowes to mark the completion of a £1.4m plus restoration and refurbishment project funded in part by a grant of almost £1 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  If you would like to know more about the work of the HLF visit their website at

The Gardens are located within a few minutes walk of the town centre and are wheelchair accessible from all entrances which are located on the corner between Albert Road and Princes Street, Cornwall Road, Bowling Alley Walk and West Walks.

The Gardens are open every day from dawn until dusk in the winter and 9.00pm in the summer.

The Gardens has a Management and Maintenance Plan which was last revised in January 2015.

Current Projects

A project has started to make some real improvements to the back of house functions in the gardens. The first exciting news is that we are reducing our carbon footprint in two big ways...
  • We are installing solar panels on the roof of the house. The electricity will be used to power our needs in the house through the day and any surplus sold back to the grid. As we use many rechargeable power tools in the gardens and not all of them at the same time, that means we can charge them with power generated on our own roof!
  • We are installing air source heat pumps to warm the house and the greenhouses. This way, we can reduce our emissions whilst keeping users of the house warm and continuing to grow the plants for the gardens flower beds. There are not that many greenhouses heated in this way yet, so we are very happy to be doing this. We have also changed our growing methods and plant varieties to reduce the need for warmth through the coldest months.
The gardeners office will soon be extended, to provide very much improved facilities for staff who work on site. Roof rain water will be captured to help water plants outside the greenhouses, and bat access holes will be put into the roof space to offer nocturnal friends a roosting opportunity. The main driver of this is to then be able to redecorate the main rooms in the house and once again, be able to offer them for community use. The re-decoration should be completed from mid-summer so the rooms will then be able to be hired, on an ad-hoc or routine basis. 
To enable all these works to happen over the coming weeks paths around the greenhouse area will be closed off, on occasion. There will always be a simple diversion in place to maintain access, usually by going around the new tennis courts. Tennis court use is un-affected. Users are asked to please follow these diversions and any other directions given by staff on the day, as this is for your and their safety during the works. 


Play area

There is a fully enclosed play area which has facilities for all age groups. The play equipment includes baby and standard swings, rockers, mini spinner, two different types of slide, multi play structure and seesaw. For the warmer days there is also a splash area that shoots water from the ground (cooling for the kids, but they will get wet!).

Adult Fitness Equipment

Near to the main (Albert Road) entrance to the Gardens is a range of adult fitness equipment which gives everyone the opportunity to keep fit without needing to pay a gym subscription - provided, of course, that you don't mind people looking at you while you are exercising and can stand the weather!

Tennis Courts

There are four tennis courts open all year round and are available for public use at a very reasonable charge. Further details including how to book a court and the cost can be found by clicking here.

Community Room

The refurbished Borough Gardens House has a community facility located on the ground floor. There is a large room equipped with tables and chairs together with a kitchen and toilets and can be hired by the community for a multitude of uses. For further information on hire charges and how to book the room click on the 'Community Room Hire' button to the left of this screen.

Refreshment Kiosk

The 'Kiosk on the Green' located at the northern end of the Gardens sells a range of light snacks and drinks at a very competitive price. It is open every day in the summer and at weekends during the winter.  The kiosk is run by the operators of Cafe on the Green at Poundbury, both facilities have an ethos of helping train young adults with learning difficulties by giving them the opportunity to achieve valuable work experience  at the venues. To contact the Kiosk on the Green or Cafe on the Green please email Kelly Maston 

Public Toilets

The public toilets are located adjacent to the refreshment kiosk building and are open all year round during the Gardens opening times.

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Special Features


The centrally located bandstand was donated by Col. W.E. Brymer MP as a permanent memorial of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and in acknowledgement of kindness received by him from Dorchester townspeople.  It was designed by G.J. Hunt, the Borough Surveyor, and built by Messrs.  T. MacFarlane and Co. of Glasgow for £200. The bandstand is still the focal point for live music and other events which take place in the Gardens over most weekends during the summer.

Clock Tower

Close to the bandstand is an elaborate cast-iron clocktower painted in red, green and gold. There is an inscription recording the gift of the clock to the town by Charles Hansford in 1905.


There is a fountain in the north-east area of the Gardens. It is 16ft high with four seated lions backed by fern leaves supporting a 7'6" diameter basin, a column of three carved birds below a 4' diameter basin above, and an inverted scalloped basin with cherub and cornucopia on a flowered column at the top.  It was donated by Charles Hansford in memory of G.J. Gregory JP, his brother-in-law and five times Mayor of Dorchester, and was officially named the Gregory Memorial Fountain

Tirah Memorial

In the north-west corner of the Gardens there is a stone obelisk known as the Tirah Memorial.  It was erected in 1899 and dedicated to the memory of the non-commissioned officers and men of the 1st Battalion Dorset Regiment who died in the Indian Northwest Frontier (Tirah) Campaign of 1897-98. It was carved by Westcott of Dorchester.

Shield Beds

There are three shield beds located near to the Cornwall Road entrance to the Gardens. Each year they are planted to commemorate anniversaries of local or national organisations and charities.


The sundial on the lawn below the bandstand is an analemmatic dial and is unusual because the user forms part of the dial system. In other words if you stand in the right place your shadow will tell you what the time is!

A Children's Guide on how to use the sundial is available.  A Sundial information leaflet is also available..

Management and Maintenance Plan - Revised 2024

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo




Green Flag Logo




General view of the Borough Gardens








Borough Gardens Play Area





Gym equipment in the Borough Gardens





The Oasis iosk





Borough Gardens Clock Tower








Borough Gardens Bandstand





Borough Gardens Fountain