The best full English breakfasts in Shaftesbury

The full English at the John Peel on Shaftesbury High Street

THE TOP FIVE FULL ENGLISH SPOTS IN SHAFTESBURY (as voted for by members of the Shaftesbury, Dorset Facebook group).

Last Saturday morning, at 8.30am, Paula Whitworth posed a question on the Shaftesbury Facebook group: “Best place to go for a full English breakfast?” Some 80+ comments and dozens of likes later, members of the 6,700-strong group had voted. And the results were:

  1. John Peel 52 High Street. Jonathan Thomas, editor of US publication Anglotopia and a regular visitor to Shaftesbury, says: “If you’re hungry and want a great meal – then you must go to the John Peel. The full English breakfast is divine…” 17 votes/comments on the Shaftesbury Facebook page include: “Biggest breakfast in town” “Without a doubt the best.” (4.5 on Tripadvisor from 93 reviews). Open 8am-5pm daily (9am Sunday).

2. The Salt Cellar 1 Gold Hill Parade. Radio journalist Keri Jones, who runs This is Alfred in Shaftesbury, says: “I’ve taken many visitors for food and drink to the cafe at the top of the iconic Gold Hill. In many prime tourism spots you would expect to have to sacrifice food quality for such a stunning location: not the case here..”. 7 FB comments: “Tasty and really reasonable” “Absolutely The Salt Cellar.” (4.5 from 500 reviews). Open 9am-5pm, closed Sundays.

3. Skevys 24B Wincombe Industrial Estate. Tucked away on an industrial estate north of town, Skevys is highly regarded by locals for its breakfasts (very handy when visiting the recycling centre…). 7 FB comments: “The toasties are amazing too.” Open 8am-2.30pm, closed Sundays.

4. The Udder Farm Shop Manor Farm, East Stour. Despite being five miles west, down the A30, The Udder is recognised in Shaftesbury as the ‘go-to’ farm shop for food. In January, it opened a large extension to seat 120, as well as a separate coffee shop – according to Tripadvisor reviewers, there have been a few wobbles over service and pricing, but it will bounce back. 6 FB comments: “I’ve been to pretty much every breakfast place within 15 miles and it’s The Udder.” (4.0 from 342 reviews). Open 8.30am-6pm (9.30am-4pm Sundays).

5. The Ugly Duckling 6 Swans Yard. Tucked away in the artistic quarter, in the heart of Shaftesbury, this lovely little cafe is revered by locals. Service is speedy and the cakes as good as the breakfasts. 6 FB comments: “This one all the way” “I have tried them all over the years and this is the best.” (4.5 from 166 reviews). Open 9am-4pm (10am Sundays).

THE BEST OF THE REST (as voted for)

6. Cafe Newt Gillingham. An upmarket motorbike shop with a cafe in Gillingham, six miles away: not only was it named Dealer of the Year 2019 by Motorcycle News, but the magazine also named the cafe the second best biker cafe in the country. Cafe Newt was also voted the Best Independent Cafe in 2018 in The Taste of Dorset awards. This place is cooking. (4.5 from 51 reviews). Open 9am-4.30pm (closed Sundays).

7. Compton Abbas airfield Ashmore. Three miles from Shaftesbury up a hill, it is a working airfield. Watch the planes take off and look over to Shaftesbury and some glorious views. But book in advance: such is the cafe’s popularity that only one group, of up to 12, can be booked in each day as they strive to make space for all. (4.5 from 321 reviews). Open 9.30am-4.30pm, closed Mondays. Breakfast served until 11.30am).

8. Visit Hillbrush Norwood Park, Mere. We are not surprised now to find a coffee shop/cafe in a department store or garden centre. But in 2017, it was a very brave move to open one in a brush factory on the A303. Hillbrush has held a Royal Warrant to supply brushes to Royal households since 1981. It is a very superior brush factory and, as you might expect, so is the cafe. Eggs Benedict or Florentine, salmon or steak with eggs complement the full English and vegetarian version. (4.5 from 202 reviews). Open 8am-6pm daily (4pm Sunday, Bank Holidays. Breakfast served until midday).


The High Street Bakery 58a High Street. A lovely little cafe with a big breakfast menu – alongside the full English; bacon or sausage sarnies; poached, fried or scrambled; avocado and poached eggs; porridge, or just beans on toast. Vegetarian and vegan options, and served from 8am-4pm. (4 from 13 reviews).

The Grosvenor Arms The Commons. Similar dishes to High Street Bakery, but Shaftesbury’s prime hotel offers slightly more expansive options (at slightly more expensive prices) – eg., porridge with apple, ginger and berry compote (£4) compared with HSB’s porridge topped with fruit and honey or maple syrup (£3.50). Or a full English at £9.50 (HSB) v £11.50 (TGA). But it’s a much bigger space and there’s room for all tastes. (4 from 332 reviews). Breakfast served 7.30-11am daily.