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Royal Wootton Bassett Tourist Information

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Wootton Bassett in North Wiltshire

Royal Wootton Bassett Tourist Information and Travel Guide

The location of Royal Wootton Bassett just two miles from junction 16 of the M4, makes it an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding numerous tourist attractions including London, Bath, Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, and the Cotswolds.  There are also many historical and archaeological places of interest and areas of outstanding natural beauty close by. These include Malmesbury, Tetbury, Castle Combe, Lacock, Avebury, Stonehenge and Cirencester.

Wootton Bassett's best known landmark the Town Hall was built at the end of the 17th Century, it owes its existence to the political ambitions of the Hyde family (the Earls of Clarendon) who presented the building to the town, and also had the market charter renewed.

The upper floor of the hall was a council chamber built on 15 pillars, while below there as a store room for market goods and also a Blind House or lock-up, in which drunks were detained overnight. The building was extensively restored in 1889 when the Blind House disappeared. It now houses a museum of town life which currently opens on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Wootton Bassett has retained much of its architectural heritage.

There are notable Georgian Buildings which line the broad High Street.  Most of these have been sympathetically adapted to house the shops and offices that serve modern-day needs.  The town is particularly well endowed with public houses.  The Waggon and Horses claims to date from 1612, while the Cross Keys Inn dates from 1742, but may have been the site of an older tavern.  Other hostelries which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries survive, along with their traditional names, the Angel, the Crown Inn, Borough Arms , the Curriers Arms to name a few.  If this interests you why not pick up a copy of the Town Trail.

Wootton Bassett's Jubilee Lake is to be found a short distance out of town on the Malmesbury Road, a wooded trail leads off a small car park and takes you through a steeply-wooded area to the lake, a popular spot for walkers, dog owners and anglers.

The lake was formed at about the time of the first world war when the Thunder Brook was dammed. The area is rich in bird life and contains wetland habitats, ancient woodlands and grass areas. The Town Council is about to invest heavily in the site in the hope of securing Broad Town White Horsethe much coveted Nature Reserve Status.

Things to see and do in and nearby to Wootton Bassett:-

  • Wootton Bassett Museum, Wootton Bassett
  • Broad Town White Horse, Broad Town
  • High Street Festival, Wootton Bassett (August)
  • Butterfly World, Wroughton
  • Dickensian Evening with Christmas Lights, Wootton Bassett (December)
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Respect to the Fallen

In the last two years, Wootton Bassett has become a very British version of Arlington, the US cemetery where respect is paid to the fallen especially from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Until April 2007, the bodies of the fallen were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, to be taken from there to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where they are examined by a coroner before being released to the families. When renovations began at Brize Norton, RAF Lyneham took over the melancholy role. From Brize Norton the route does not pass through a town centre, but five miles east of Lyneham, on its way to the M4, the B3102 passes through Wootton Bassett.

Route Map of the Repatriation cortege

The Royal British Legion of Wootten Bassett started the idea of lining the high street and saluting in respect of the passing cortege. As the hearses approach, the tenor bell of St Bartholomew's Church begins to toll. Business stops while shoppers and shopkeepers join the crowds lining the pavement. When the cortege reaches the war memorial, the president of the British Legion says a single word,"Up", to mark the moment when ex- and serving members of the forces should begin their salute, "Down," he says 60 seconds later, as the hearses move on.

The British Legion get notified by RAF Lyneham when there will be a funeral procession but people wanting to take part as interested on-lookers have been known to wait for up to 3 hours to view the proceedings.

Watch the video of a servicemens cortege through Wootten Bassett:-

New Route for Repatriations

From September 2011 repatriations, which have gone from RAF Lyneham since 2007, will now go from RAF Brize Norton.

It means an end to the scenes in the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, where crowds have lined the streets to pay their respects to the fallen - the town has been renamed Royal Wootton Bassett to recognise its efforts.

The route to the John Radcliffe Hospital through the city of Oxford remains the same as before.

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Wootton Bassett Tourist Information &
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