When we asked Katy’s step-son Brendan if he could choose any place in the world to visit, being a Russian history major, and barring Moscow, he chose the Bovington Tank Museum, the largest tank museum in Europe. Bovington is a small area in Dorset county at the southern tip of England a bit west of the Isle of Wight near Poole.
This seemed a bit random at first but it was a great excuse to take a train into the beautiful UK countryside and apparently if you’re into tanks this place is the shiznit.
We chose to stay nearby at the small town of Wareham, where the train from London stops and where we could find a hotel and few pubs. Wareham was really great. A stone village with a fish and chips joint, little boats, old world pubs with traditional food. It was slow and grey and just perfect.
We booked three rooms at the Anglebury Hotel and Bar. Very cute, good food. T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) and Thomas Hardy both lived nearby and frequented the restaurant (there’s a little plaque).
The town itself has loads of charm. Picturesque street scenes and a cute park.
The Bovington Tank Museum and Monkey World
The big day. We booked a car to the museum. Now personally war, and things which seem to glorify war, aren’t personal interests of mine. It’s an important part of history, one of the main themes of humanity, but war to me should be presented as a cautionary reality. War museums, torture museums, anything involving real human suffering, make me uneasy. My thoughts gravitate to the horrors of war, not to the victories. So walking around a museum filled with Nazi machine gun nests and walk-through replicas of trench warfare kinda freaked me out to be honest. One section funneled you through a low WWI trench with recordings of war, rats, soldiers huddled in the mud crying, and all manner of awful depictions. Dioramas with war horses being run over by tanks.
The 12 year old boy in me did kind of get a kick out of the tanks. It’s like the G.I.Joe toys of my youth come to life. And lots of kooky vehicles which were quite cool if you could forget their primary purpose was for killing other people.
Katjia on the other hand was pretty bored straight off. We walked around for about an hour having fun with the kids displays but then decided to walk the 2 miles to a monkey themed zoo called Monkey World, which turned out to be lots of fun on its own. Katjia enthusiastically got behind the monkeys and lemurs and we had a fun time there for a few hours until Brendan had gotten his fill of the tanks.
Following the road from Wareham to the sea, you drive straight through the town of Corfe Castle, named for the castle now in ruins on the hill. Built by William the Conqueror at the end of the 11th century, it was later destroyed in 1645 by Parliamentary forces after it’s defeat to prevent it from being used by royalists. There’s not much left but it’s a fun exploration. The surrounding town (built mostly from castle stones) is very charming and we had a great post-castle snack at Corfe Castle Village Bakery. A cream tea with scones and clotted cream. Then a couple pitchers of Pimm’s. Fun for the whole family.
Getting cream tea:
The town of Corfe Castle:
Train Back to London
Early the next day we headed down to the train station for the trip back. I didn’t have many expectations for our little trip but it turned out to be loads of fun and to an area I probably would not have visited otherwise. Thumbs up for sleepy Wareham and Corfe Castle.