Evershot is one of Dorset’s most enchanting villages. Victorian novelist Thomas Hardy certainly approved, having featured the charming cluster of neat, thatched cottages and bow-fronted shops in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, thinly disguised under the name Evershed. But Evershot, home to Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Restaurant, is not the only gorgeous, olde-worlde English village in the vicinity. Follow any winding country lane and you’ll inevitably stumble upon an equally delightful, local treasure. Here are the prettiest Dorset villages, each within a 15-minute drive of Summer Lodge.

Sydling Saint Nicholas

A scenic 10 minutes along the English country lanes leading out of Evershot is the impossibly pretty Dorset village of Sydling Saint Nicholas. With Sydling Water bubbling through it, and many of its pretty rose and ivy-clad cottages reached by stone bridges, it’s utterly picture perfect. The beautiful, ancient church is not its only selling point—be sure to pay a visit to the now-closed blacksmith and bakery for an authentic glimpse of historic, rural life.


An 11-minute drive due west of Evershot is the gorgeous little gold-stone village of Chedington, which commands spectacular views across the Mendip and Hamdon Hills. Surrounded by stunning hiking trails, it’s a popular stop among ramblers. Join them for a drink in the beer garden at Winyard’s Gap Inn, a charming local pub with a cheerful menu.

Toller Porcorum

The Toller Valley, within a 13-minute drive of Summer Lodge, is particularly picturesque, more so for the tiny hamlets of Toller Fratrum, Porcorum and Whelme that pepper it. Of these, Toller Porcorum is the prettiest. The ancient church is the highlight, with its 17th-century bell tower an easy landmark. Step inside to discover what’s suspected to be a Roman font.

Cerne Abbas

The Cerne Valley is best known for its mysterious, ancient, 180ft giant, etched into the side of a hill with chalk rubble. However, it’s also home to some of the prettiest Dorset villages, and nearby Cerne Abbas—13 minutes from Evershot—is a worthy visit. All historic, listed buildings clustered around a 10th-century abbey, it rose to fame for the quality of its beer, brewed at the monastery. The brewery has since dried up, but its three village pubs still pour an excellent pint.

Bradford Abbas

Find Bradford Abbas 15 minutes from Evershot, and once you’ve wandered through it to admire the neat, stone houses and sleepy charm, settle in at The Rose and Crown for a real taste of village life. The Tudor pub is the beating heart of the village and you’re likely to meet a few local characters at the bar.


A scenic 15 minutes southeast of Summer Lodge is Charminster. It has all the trappings of a traditional English village: olde-worlde tea rooms, traditional pubs, pretty gardens, an ancient church and, of course, a haunted house. It’s also the central hub of some very beautiful walks, not least a stroll along the banks of the River Cerne, upon which Charminster sits.

Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Restaurant to admire the prettiest villages in Dorset, starting with Evershot itself.