Sherborne is a market town crammed with historical interest and located in northwest Dorset, South West England. The town was named scir burne by the Saxon inhabitants after a brook that runs through the town’s center.
In 933, King Æthelstan granted land at Sherborne to the nuns of Shaftesbury Abbey under the condition that they would recite the Psalter once a year on All Saints’ day and say prayers for the king. In 1075 the church at Sherborne became a Benedictine monastery.
In the 12th century Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of England, built a fortified palace (destroyed in 1645 by General Fairfax). In 1594 Sir Walter Raleigh built an Elizabethan mansion in the old palace’s grounds, today known as Sherborne Castle.
Notable historic buildings in the town include the almshouses of saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, founded in 1438. There are 378 listed buildings within the town.
What to See
Medieval Sherborne: Top 5 Attractions
Sherborne Abbey has a rich history: It has been a Saxon cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey church (998–1539), and since 1539, a parish church. It is believed that there was a Celtic Christian church here called Lanprobi as early as AD 658. The Abbey is a Grade I listed building and has several distinct architectural styles throughout.
Sherborne Old Castle
Sherborne Old Castle is a 12th-century ruin set in grounds next to New Sherborne Castle. After withstanding two sieges during the Civil War, only the Southwest Gatehouse and parts of the castle survive. The castle grounds are a haven for wildlife and birds and an ideal spot for a picnic.
Almshouses of St John
The Almshouse was built in the 15th Century for “12 poor men and 4 poor women” and has provided shelter and care for the people of Sherborne for over 500 years. Dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, it is one of Dorset’s oldest serving almshouse.
Minterne Magna, St. Andrews Church
Minterne Magna is located midway between Sherborne and Dorchester. There was a Saxon church on this site, and parts of that early building have been incorporated into the present chancel. There are two bells, both cast in the 15th century.
Cheap Street and Shoemaker’s House
Shoemakers is a beautiful conserved timber-framed building of 1500 in Cheap Street. The timbered frontage of the Shoemaker’s House was revealed only in the 1990s when 19th-century work was removed during renovations. This fine old building has also been a candle makers.
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