Marlborough was founded as a royal estate and is situated in the north east corner of Wiltshire. Savernake Forest is situated to the south and east of the town in which William the Conqueror used to hunt deer. Marlborough had a castle that was a royal possession until 1273, which was used by William, Henry I and King John. The great Bath road runs through the town that was much travelled by forty stagecoaches a day before the coming of the railway.
The high street is claimed to be one of the widest in the country and used by a twice-weekly market where also the two Mop Fairs are held each October. The Royalists took the town in 1642 and a few years later in 1653, much of the town was raised to the ground in the great fire. It is thought that as many as 150 buildings were destroyed. Some half-timbered cottages that escaped the big fire can be seen in many fascinating back alleys. The 17th century Merchant’s House has just celebrated its 20th Anniversary of Trust and is well worth a visit as is also the 17th century style garden behind the house.
Today Marlborough is a bustling town with a population of almost 8,000, which enjoys a wide range of cultural activities including the annual International Jazz Festival in July and the Food Festival in October. In 2011 the vision of creating ‘a town in an orchard’ opened with an Apple Day and the start of a Community Orchard.
Currently the town is seeking to be a ‘Transition Town’, which aims to plan ahead to moderate the worst effects of climate change, the diminishing availability of oil and to reduce consumption of water.