193km (120 miles) SW of London; 43km (27 miles) W of Bournemouth

In his 1886 novel, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy gave Dorchester literary fame. Actually, Dorchester was notable even in Roman times, when Maumbury Rings, the best Roman amphitheater in Britain, was filled with the sounds of 12,000 spectators screaming for the blood of the gladiators. Today, it's a sleepy market town that seems to go to bed right after dinner.