In concert: Beth Nielsen Chapman in Gillingham, Dorset, March 2018 – come and stay and enjoy our B&B as well as a great performance

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

|| Tickets for the first of this year’s GillFest shows are now on sale and we look forward to welcoming American singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman to Gillingham next month for what will undoubtedly be a fantastic concert.

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Beth Nielsen Chapman

It takes place on Saturday 10th March at the same venue where last year GillFest hosted rock maestro Rick Wakeman; it’s a small and intimate auditorium space, so a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the music of a legendary country and pop singer-songwriter up close.

Room One – Church View

We currently have rooms available over the weekend of Friday 9th and Saturday 10th March 2018,  so why not check the GillFest site for gig tickets and book your stay with us at the same time?  The concert venue is just a short walk from ‘Sunflowers’.

Concert tickets can be bought online via the GillFest website and you can also see some video footage there of Beth performing.

See you in March!

Light evening meals now available at Gillingham, Dorset’s popular bed and breakfast!

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

You asked, we listened!  And in response to great feedback on our breakfasts and to many requests and suggestions,  we are now offering a small menu of light evening snacks!

Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, ‘Sunflowers’ style

Our Delicious Dorset Evening Snacks are available between 5.00pm and 8.00pm on Sunday to Thursday evenings and are cooked to order and served in the private dining room. As many of the local restaurant options are closed on Sunday and Monday evenings,  the new menu is already proving to be very popular!

All items can be ordered and paid for during your stay and you can request a free copy of the menu in PDF format when you book if you wish to take a look or order in advance.

The menu includes:

  • Sandwiches, made on your choice of brown or white bread, served with crisps; choose from:
    • Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
    • Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato
  • Poached or Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon [pictured here]
  • Your choice from the Light Bites menu:Scrambled/Poached/Baked Eggs or Baked Beans on Toast – all available with your choices of cheese, ham and fresh tomatoes
  • Pasta Bake with Oven Roasted Vegetables, topped with Halloumi Cheese (v)
  • Pea, Pancetta and Parmesan Risotto with a Truffle Oil Drizzle [with mushrooms instead of pancetta for a vegetarian option]
  • Home made Mixed Fruit Fool, served with Dorset Shortbread Biscuits

All options include a jug of filtered ice water, and freshly brewed local tea or coffee to follow your meal.

We look forward to cooking for you soon!

Enjoy a vegan breakfast as part of Veganuary 2018: special bed and breakfast vegan menu available, Gillingham, Dorset

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

Happy New Year!

In support of Veganuary 2018,  we’re launching a special vegan breakfast menu which will be available throughout January 2018 for anyone who requests it when they book directly with us.

Avocado on sourdough toast

We’re committed to providing delicious, fresh and cooked to order breakfast options for all of our guests and if you’re a vegan or fancy trying out some delicious plant-based food as part of this year’s Veganuary, that includes you! We have vegetarian, vegan and plant-based menu options on offer all year round (as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb and paleo selections) but for January 2018,  here’s a couple of extra new things to try.


Our Veganuary options include:

  • Tofu Scramble: tofu scrambled with your choice of tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and spring onions
  • Porridge made with almond milk and served with fresh berries and maple syrup
  • Avocado on sourdough toast
  • A signature ‘Sunflowers’ parfait made with coconut or vanilla soya yoghurt, gluten-free oats, home-made fruit compote, topped with fresh berries and mint
  • The ‘Sunflowers’ Smoothie: banana, almond milk, cinnamon and mixed berries
Tal and mini parfaits
The ‘Sunflowers’ signature parfait – now available as dairy-free

Our regular vegan-friendly menu items are also always available – baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach in any combination you like, as well as cereals served with your choice of plant milks, dishes of fresh fruit or fruit compote and coconut or vanilla soya yoghurt.


We cook with olive or coconut oils and unsweetened almond and soya milks are available for breakfast and in the guest fridge as standard, year round. And we’ll replace the biscuits on the amenity tray in the bedrooms with vegan-friendly treats, too.

For more on Veganuary, please see their website and to book your vegan-friendly stay with us, please see our booking calendar – don’t forget to let us know that you’d like to try out the limited edition Veganuary menu when you book!

Christmas present idea – ‘Sunflowers’ B&B in Gillingham, Dorset gift certificates are now available!

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

gift_vouchers_main.jpgLooking for an easy gift and a way to share our famous hospitality, great breakfasts and a taste of Dorset with someone this Christmas?

‘Sunflowers’ gift vouchers are now available, in multiples of £25. Each gift certificate is personally designed for the recipient and can feature their name,  the occasion or celebration and can show the value of the gift or be left blank (eg:”This certificate entitles you to a one night stay at ‘Sunflowers’ Bed & Breakfast Dorset, to include two Special Breakfasts and Use of the Hot Tub”) – feel free to ask us to personalise it with whatever you like – perhaps add on a stay for their dog too,  or a complimentary bottle of Prosecco?


Just email or call us with your request – payment can be made by credit/debit card, PayPal or BACS. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


Gift certificates are supplied via an emailed PDF within 48 hours of receipt of the order and payment.

Why not base yourselves at our Gillingham Bed and Breakfast and explore the hidden gems of North Dorset?

We have now opened the doors of our bed and breakfast to guests from 27 different countries! In August (2017)  alone, we welcomed visitors from France, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Russia and Australia. Thank you all.

Margaret and Ian from Australia stayed with us for two nights whilst visiting distant cousins in Gillingham and Shaftesbury and wrote us this review:

“This charming B&B hidden away in the little town of Gillingham is perfectly located for exploring Shaftesbury and the many picturesque villages nearby. Cleo is a delightful hostess who takes extra care to ensure that her guests have every comfort.”

Gold Hill, Shaftesbury Dorset

Saxon hill-top town Shaftesbury is of course famous for the iconic 1970s advertisement for Hovis Bread – here’s a reminder of the commercial, complete with the voice over which led many to believe that it was actually filmed in Yorkshire, rather than on Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill!

The actor who plays the young delivery boy still retains an association with Shaftesbury; he was here a few years ago to turn on the town’s Christmas lights and then again more recently in order to recreate the original commercial by way of using an electric bicycle in order to ride up Gold Hill – read all about it here!

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

A visit to new specialist motorcycle dealer Mirus 55 in Gillingham, Dorset

Mirus 55 in Gillingham, Dorset

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

Fans of classic, vintage and current European motorcycles should definitely plan to visit the newly opened Mirus55 MotoCorsa dealership, which opened up here in Gillingham, Dorset last month. It’s only a few minutes’ walk (or ride) away from ‘Sunflowers’ so we went along to take a look.

Mirus55 is a specialist motorcycle dealer, working with some of the most exclusive, desirable and exciting motorcycles in the world. The showroom is home to some exclusive British and Italian motorbike brands, from Brough Superior to Aprilia, Norton to MV Augusta and many more. The setting, a former brewery building, has had a ‘no expense spared’ makeover and it is amazing; it feels like a cross between a vintage bike museum (complete with original posters and other motorcycle related memorabilia) and a modern-day showroom. The bikes showcased there are spectacular – it’s definitely worth a visit for any motorcycle fan.

As well as bikes, there’s also a mezzanine level which sells motorcycle clothing and, at ground level, leading into the garden (home to a full size fibreglass model Bugatti car) and courtyard, you will find the cutely named – and DOG FRIENDLY – ‘Cafe Newt’.

Cafe Newt on Wincanton Road, Gillingham

Not that as a guest of ‘Sunflowers’ you would have need of an all-day breakfast,  but one is on offer in the cafe,  as well as the usual range of coffees, teas, cakes, sandwiches, pasties, sausage rolls and jacket potatoes.  Like us, Steve the cafe manager is passionate about using local produce, so the cafe supplies such local goodies as 918 Coffee, Dorset Teas, cakes from the Gillingham based Lavender Blue Bakery and sausages from Lagan Farm. They also have a good range of gluten-free options and drinks can be made using soya milk.


An excellent flat white, made with 918 Coffee, served at Cafe Newt

Both the cafe and the showroom are open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm (although the cafe stops serving at around 4pm or so).


You’ll find Cafe Newt referenced on our list of recommended and personally curated eating and drinking places and the showroom is also well worth a visit.

Looking for a motorcyclist/biker friendly place to stay? Bikers are always welcome at ‘Sunflowers’ and we look forward to meeting you (and your bike!) soon. Click here to view our current calendar and make your secure booking. 

#WalkersAreWelcome in Gillingham, Dorset – announcing the launch of the 2017 walking festival

Walkers are Welcome in Gillingham, Dorset

We are proud to be supporting this year’s Gillingham Walking Festival and we are a key advertiser in the Festival’s programme,  as pictured here.  The Festival,  which runs from 2nd-10th September 2017,  offers a range of walks of varying lengths, all designed to showcase  Gillingham’s Royal Forest heritage and to introduce the White Hart Link.

This is a very exciting new initiative, launched in April 2017 and is a 50 mile/80 km walking route which links the five towns of North Dorset – Gillingham, Stalbridge, Sturminster Newton, Blandford Forum and Shaftesbury –  using footpaths and quiet lanes.

Many of the Festival walks, which are led by local groups, are free and there’s also a range of other activities occurring during the Festival,  including a cinema showing of the film “The Way”, a quiz night and a cheese and wine evening.

Gillingham is the first town in Dorset to be granted Walkers Are Welcome status!

To read more about the Festival, to download a PDF copy of the programme (and to see our advertisement!) please click here.

And to book your bed and breakfast accommodation during the Walking Festival, please use special offer code BOOTS when you book directly online with us, to receive a discount on stays of two or more nights in rooms one and/or three.  We look forward to welcoming you soon.

PS: the code BOOTS is available to all walkers, not just during the Walking Festival.

New restaurant opens in Gillingham, Dorset

… and it’s just a short walk away from ‘Sunflowers’! So we are delighted to welcome the owners and staff of The Grill House on South Street, Gillingham to the town,  as it’s always good to have another eating place to recommend to our guests.

The Grill House restaurant, Gillingham, Dorset

The Grill House, pictured here, opened last week and welcomes guests from Wednesday to Sunday, serving food from 12 noon to 9pm. We’ll post a review once we’ve checked it out for ourselves but in the meantime, here’s their menu and you can book online, too.  We were also pleased to see on their Facebook page that they’re using the garden for a spot of al-fresco eating – always a plus in the summer months.

wp-image-217163504The previous restaurant on this site was extremely popular with our guests, particularly those who travelled to us by train, foot or bicycle, so it really is great news that it’s re-opened in a new incarnation.  It’s about a 10 minute walk away from ‘Sunflowers’ – perfect! We wish the new team lots of luck and look forward to calling in soon.

* * * * * *

Want to come and stay in a B&B which is top rated and reviewed across Facebook, Airbnb and Google?  Just click here to book directly with us for the best price, instant availability and lots of little extras. Ann and Stephen from Ireland recently came to stay for two nights on a visit to Dorset to see the legendary RICK WAKEMAN perform as part of GillFest 2017 and wrote in our guest book:

We have never before experienced such a wonderfully attentive and friendly B&B – everything is such excellent quality and Cleo and Steve are so hospitable. We highly recommend ‘Sunflowers’!

Thank you so much!

Pulling out all the (organ) stops in Gillingham, Dorset as part of #GillFest

david-briggs-flyer-july-1-2016Lovers of popular classical music should add Saturday 1st July to their diaries, when, for the third and final time, an audio-visual spectacular show featuring star organist David Briggs and a host of special effects including pyrotechnics, lights, smoke and lasers comes to Gillingham Methodist Church (GMC).

Presented by the Music at GMC team and forming part of community festival GillFest, the evening promises to be a classical spectacular as would normally only be staged in London venues.

Music at GMC organiser Gordon Amery explains:

“Our aim is to bring top quality music to Gillingham and the surrounding area by inviting musicians to come and perform for us. We have previously hosted performers from all over the world and look forward to welcoming renowned concert organist David Briggs back to Gillingham to play for us on July 1st.”

And David Briggs told us:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be returning to Gillingham, Dorset for my seventh concert at GMC. I’m always struck by the warmth and enthusiasm of the audience and this makes for a very enjoyable and communicative experience. The past two Organ Fireworks have been great and the atmosphere is so electric. This year I’ll be playing a similarly fun and varied programme, with ample opportunity for audience participation. Last year the massed singing was incredible – it was all I could do to match the volume, even using ten fingers and both feet. I’m looking forward to ‘pulling out all the stops’ again on 1st July!”

This will be a wonderful opportunity to hear popular classics played on Gillingham’s historic, heritage restored William Sweetland organ, which simulates a full symphony orchestra, in a setting featuring lasers, pyrotechnics and indoor fireworks.

At only £15 per ticket, with discounts available for groups of four or more, the audience will be able to enjoy such classical favourites as the 1812 Overture, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Clair de Lune, the Ride of the Valkyries, Jerusalem and many more, all accompanied by an exhilarating light and sound show.

The July 1st show starts at 7.30pm at Gillingham Methodist Church on the High Street. For further information and tickets, please call 07817 379006 or email

Need somewhere to stay during GillFest? Click to book!

Hold the front page! We’re in the Gillingham, Dorset News!

Gillingham News – June 2017

We were delighted to be featured in the June copy of Gillingham, Dorset’s local newspaper, The Gillingham News. The article runs alongside a piece discussing tourism in North Dorset and references our part in supporting visitors to Gillingham with our bed and breakfast.  You can read the story online here (choose the June edition, then scroll through to page 16) or it’s reproduced below for easier reading.

I’ve always said that I used to travel the world and that now the world comes to me – but even I was surprised when I worked out that we’ve hosted guests from over twenty countries so far!

Gillingham is open to the world

North Dorset may be low on the Dorset scale of visitor numbers, but Cleo Thompson’s bed and breakfast in Gillingham has played host to visitors from around the world.

‘Since we opened our doors, we’ve hosted nearly 600 people from 20 different countries including Italy, Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand and South Africa, and this summer we’ll be adding visitors from the USA, Thailand and Australia to that tally,’ says Cleo, who used to travel the world in her former corporate life but who now runs Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in the Wyke area of Gillingham.

‘I always ask people what brings them to Gillingham and the range of reasons is really interesting – it’s a microcosm of the town’s life.  We’ve hosted lots of guests who are here due to an event or an activity at one of the schools; these have ranged from actors performing in a play at the high school, the cast of the Inside Out Dorset festival, a cyber security expert and a speaker from BBC Bristol.

‘We get a lot of cyclists, so far from the UK, Holland, Belgium and France, who are cycling National Route 25. We’re also starting to see a lot of walkers who are on the Stour Valley Way or using us as a base camp to walk the Blackmore Vale or around the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  A recent big trend is people staying here to research their family history – that was true of the New Zealanders two weeks ago; they had ancestors buried in Mere and Motcombe churchyards and also of the Australian who checked out this morning after three nights.’

Garden fans are also visitors, visiting Stourhead and the Capability Brown-designed gardens at Sherborne Castle. ‘We also get dog owners who stay whilst their dogs are competing in various agility/other dog shows,’ says Cleo. ‘There’s apparently a Crufts 2018 qualifier show at the Showground in July – I have two dogs (and their humans) booked in across seven nights for that!’

Cleo also gets business visitors staying for one or two nights. ‘They are usually having business meetings with one of our key local employers such as Dextra, 918 Coffee, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Sigma-Aldrich.’

Cleo is a dedicated supporter of other local businesses. ‘I’ve sent almost 100 customers to Ristorante da Massimo at the Buffalo Inn,’ she says. ‘We also source as many of our breakfast items as we can from local suppliers; our guests particularly love 918 Coffee and Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt from The Dorset Dairy Company in Stalbridge and it’s not unheard for them to go home via the Udder Farm Shop to stock up on the yoghurt. 

‘All of our guest rooms are fitted with black out blinds supplied by Sewards on Gillingham High Street,  we provide complimentary dog treats made by Dorset Dog Delights, our locks were installed by Three County Locksmiths and our promotional material has been designed and printed for us by Wyke Print.’

Continue reading “Hold the front page! We’re in the Gillingham, Dorset News!”