The Iconic Gold Hill of Shaftesbury

Dec 3, 2014 5 comments

Gold Hill, in the town of Shaftesbury in the English county of Dorset, is a picturesque steep cobbled street. The street was made famous by the Hovis bread advertisement, featuring a bread delivery boy pushing his bike up the steep cobbled hill. Since then, pictures of Gold Hill have appeared on the covers of many books about Dorset and rural England, as well as on countless chocolate boxes and calendars. Previously, Gold Hill appeared in the 1967 film version of Thomas Hardy's classic Far From the Madding Crowd, but it was the Hovis commercial directed by Ridley Scott that shot this beautiful location, along with the town of Shaftesbury, to fame. Gold Hill became embedded in the nation’s consciousness as an icon of Dorset. But many people still refer to it as "Hovis Hill".

To one side of Gold Hill, facing the famous cottages, is a buttressed wall of the Shaftesbury Abbey built by King Alfred the Great. The wall is presumed to have been built in the 14th century. At the top of the street is yet another 14th-century relic, the St Peter's Church, and one of the few buildings remaining in Shaftesbury from before the 18th century. Adjacent to the church is the former Priest's House, now part of Gold Hill Museum.


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The classic Hovis advert.


  1. Over here in England, the amusing thing is that Gold Hill, in the south coast county of Dorset, is represented in the Hovis ads as an iconic northern street - complete with an 'authentic' northern voice-over - with flat vowels and a rolling R - from County Durham. They couldn't be much further apart if they tried!

    You refer to "the original buttressed wall of the Shaftesbury Abbey built by King Alfred the Great, possibly in the 14th century". Alfred the Great lived in the 9th century.

    1. Actually, it's the wall that was built in the 14th century and not the Abbey. The sentence was a bit unclear. It has been now corrected.

    2. That so-called northern accent sounds as West Country as they come to me. I don't think the first commenter has seen the video of the advert lately and his/her memory is a bit muddled.

    3. Not false memory I think. I remember the advert with a voiceover with a distinct Yorkshire accent (in my Yorkshire based youth) so I suspect there were regional variations of the same advert. My parents-in-law used to live in Shaftesbury and I remember being shocked to discover Gold Hill wan't in the Yorkshire Dales....

    4. The accent is not Yorkshire it's Dorset, although the music is northern so people assume it's from Yorkshire I live here and push the bike on to the hill to collect for charity, so please stop this stuff about a northern accent it's totally incorrect.


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