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Sherborne Abbey
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The Conduit
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Sherborne House
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The Almshouses

Sherborne is an affluent market town in north west Dorset, England, situated on the River Yeo and A30 road, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale six miles east of Yeovil. The town has a population of 9,350 (As of 2001), 40.8% are retired. The town is famous for its history, including its abbey, castles, manor house and private school. The picturesque town is a popular, though relatively unknown, tourist town.

Much of the town, including many medieval and Georgian buildings, are built from distinctive ochre ham stone, including the Abbey.



The town was named scir burne by the Saxon inhabitants, a name meaning "clear stream" (see: Bourne).

The town was made the capital of Wessex, one of the seven saxon kingdoms of England, and King Alfred's elder brothers King Ethelbert and King Ethelbald are burried in the abbey. In 705 the diocese was split between Sherborne and Winchester, and King Ine founded an Abbey for St Aldhelm, the first bishop of Sherborne. The Bishop's seat was moved to Old Sarum in 1075 and the church at Sherborne became a Benedictine Monastery. In the 15th century the church was deliberately burnt down during tensions between the town and the monastery, and was rebuilt between 1425 and 1504, though some of the Norman structure remains. In 1539 the monastery was bought by Sir John Horsey and became a conventional church.

See the article Sherborne Abbey for more on the history of the abbey.

In the 12th century Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of England built a fortified palace in Sherborne. The palace was destroyed in 1645 by General Fairfax, and the ruins are owned by English Heritage.

In 1594 Sir Walter Raleigh built an Elizabethan mansion in the grounds of the old palace, today known as Sherborne Castle.

There has been a school in Sherborne since the time of King Alfred, who was educated there. The school was refounded in 1550 as King Edward's public school, using some of the old abbey buildings. The school remains one of the top fee-paying schools in Britain. Until 1992 the school also helped run two Grammar Schools, Foster's School for boys and Lord Digby's School for girls.

Other notable historical buildings in the town include the Almshouses of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, founded in their current form in 1438 and expanded in the Victorian Era in indistinguishable medieval style architecture. The conduit, Hospice of St Julian, and Lord Digby's school are also well preserved old buildings in the town.


External links

  • Census data (
  • Town web site (
  • Photographs of Sherborne (


  1. Pitt-Rivers, Michael, 1968. Dorset. London: Faber & Faber.
  2. The 1985 AA illustrated guide to the towns and villages of Britain.



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