Sherborne is a market town and civil parish in north west Dorset, in South West England. It is sited on the River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, 6 miles (10 kilometres) east of Yeovil. The A30 road, which connects London to Penzance, runs through the town. In the 2011 census the population of Sherborne parish and the two electoral wards was 9,523.[1] 28.7% of the population is aged 65 or older.[3]

Market town

Sherborne Abbey
Location within Dorset
Population9,523 [1]
OS grid referenceST638165
 London124 mi (200 km)
Civil parish
  • Sherborne
Unitary authority
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSherborne
Postcode districtDT9
Dialling code01935
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
EU ParliamentSouth West England
UK Parliament
Arms of Sherborne Town Council
CrestOut of an Ancient Crown Or a double headed and twin-tailed Wyvem displayed Argent armed and langued Gules.
TorseArgent and Azure
BlazonAzure a Cross triparted and fretted Argent between four Double Roses Gules on Argent en soliel barbed and seeded Gold.
SupportersOn either side a Griffin segreant reguardant the aquiline parts Argent beaked and gorged with an Ancient Crown Or the leonine parts also Or armed and langued Gules.
MottoSoli Deo Honor Et Gloria (To God Alone Be Honour And Glory)
BadgeA Crozier Or enfiling a Tower with a portal Argent.
Matriculated in 1986 [2]

Sherborne's historic buildings include Sherborne Abbey, its manor house, independent schools, and two castles: the ruins of a 12th-century fortified palace and the 16th-century mansion known as Sherborne Castle built by Sir Walter Raleigh. Much of the old town, including the abbey and many medieval and Georgian buildings, is built from distinctive ochre-coloured ham stone.

The town is served by Sherborne railway station.


The town was named scir burne by the Saxon inhabitants, after a brook that runs through the centre of the town, a name meaning "clear stream", and is referred to as such in the Domesday book.

In 705 the diocese of Wessex was split between Sherborne and Winchester, and King Ine founded an abbey for St Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne, which covered Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and probably part of Devon. King Alfred the Great's elder brothers King Æthelbald and King Æthelberht are buried in the abbey. The large Sherborne diocese lasted until about 909 when it was further sub-divided into three sees, with Sherborne covering Dorset. 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.[4] 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 burnt down during tensions between the town and the monastery, and rebuilt between 1425 and 1504 incorporating some of the Norman structure remains. In 1539 the monastery was bought by Sir John Horsey and became a conventional church. Sherborne was the centre of a hundred of the same name for many centuries.

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 its 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.

Sherborne became home to Yorkshireman, Captain Christopher Levett who came to the West Country as His Majesty's Woodward of Somersetshire, and who remained in Sherborne when he turned to a career as a naval captain and early explorer of New England.[5]


In the UK national parliament, Sherborne is within the West Dorset parliamentary constituency, which is currently represented by Sir Oliver Letwin of the Conservative Party. In local government, Sherborne is administered by Dorset Council at the highest tier, and Sherborne Town Council at the lowest tier.

In national parliament and local council elections, Dorset is divided into several electoral wards, with Sherborne forming two of these: Sherborne West and Sherborne East.[6][7][8] In county council elections, Dorset is divided into 42 electoral divisions, with Sherborne's two wards together forming Sherborne Electoral Division.[9]


There has been a school in Sherborne since the time of King Alfred, who was educated there. The school was re-founded in 1550 as King Edward's grammar school, using some of the old abbey buildings, though it is now known simply as Sherborne School. The school is one of the independent schools in Britain, with alumni such as Alan Turing, Jeremy Irons, Chris Martin, John le Carré, Hugh Bonneville and John Cowper Powys.

Sherborne School for Girls was founded in 1895. Its notable alumnae include the opera singer Emma Kirkby and the scientist Rosa Beddington.

Until 1992 there were also two grammar schools, Foster's School for Boys and Lord Digby's School for Girls. Both schools merged with another local school to form The Gryphon School.

Historic buildings

Other notable historic buildings in the town include the almshouses of saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, founded in 1438 and expanded in the Victorian era in indistinguishable medieval style architecture; the conduit, hospice of St Julian, and Lord Digby school, now known as Sherborne House (designed by Benjamin Bastard). Sherborne House, famed for its mural by Sir James Thornhill.[10] was a subject for the BBC's "Restoration" programme in 2004, and was sold in 2008 by Dorset County Council to a developer, Redcliffe Homes, for £3 million.[11] Its renovation included rebuilding an unstable rear wall.[12]

There are 378 listed buildings within the town[13] and 23 in Castleton (considered to be an inclusion of Sherborne),[14] totalling 401, including 14 Grade I listed buildings and 21 Grade II* listed buildings.


Date 1841 1851 1861 1871 1891 1931 2011
Population 3485 5254 5852 6129 5001 7007 9523

Notable residents

  • The social reformer and moralist Rev Sir James Marchant died here in 1956.

Environment and community

Sherborne has an active green community, with various environmental and sustainability organisations in the area. The Quarr Local Nature Reserve at the northern end of the town makes use of an old quarry and landfill site, Sherborne Area Partnership oversees a successful environment forum and, in 2009, Sherborne became an official Transition Town,[16] running a number of projects and events as a community response to climate change and peak oil.

Pack Monday Fair

The town has for centuries hosted an annual street fair, Pack Monday Fair, starting on the Monday following 10 October (Old Michaelmas Day). Originally an agricultural fair, it is now devoted to stalls, sideshows and a funfair.[17]

Sport and leisure

Sherborne has a non-League football club Sherborne Town FC a cricket club (Sherborne CC) and a rugby club, Sherborne RFC.

International relations

Sherborne is a founding member of the Douzelage, a town twinning association of 24 towns across the European Union. This active town twinning began in 1991 and there are regular events, such as a produce market from each of the other countries and festivals.[18][19] Discussions regarding membership are also in hand with three further towns (Agros in Cyprus, Škofja Loka in Slovenia, and Tryavna in Bulgaria).

Altea, Spain - 1991
Bad Kötzting, Germany - 1991
Bellagio, Italy - 1991
Bundoran, Ireland - 1991
Granville, France - 1991[20]
Holstebro, Denmark - 1991
Houffalize, Belgium - 1991
Meerssen, the Netherlands - 1991
Niederanven, Luxembourg - 1991
Preveza, Greece - 1991
Sesimbra, Portugal - 1991
Sherborne, United Kingdom - 1991
Karkkila, Finland - 1997
Oxelösund, Sweden - 1998
Judenburg, Austria - 1999
Chojna, Poland - 2004
Kőszeg, Hungary - 2004
Sigulda, Latvia - 2004
Sušice, Czech Republic - 2004
Türi, Estonia - 2004
Zvolen, Slovakia - 2007
Prienai, Lithuania - 2008
Marsaskala, Malta - 2009
Siret, Romania - 2010

Sherbourne Street, Toronto and Sherbourne (TTC) subway station was named after the town, as it was the birthplace of Upper Canada official and Toronto resident Thomas Ridout.

Sources and references


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


  1. "Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics - Sherborne (Parish)". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  2. "SHERBORNE TOWN COUNCIL (DORSET)". Robert Young. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  3. "Age Structure, 2011 (KS102EW) - Sherborne (Parish)". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  4. Studies in the Early History of Shaftesbury Abbey. Dorset County Council, 1999
  5. Baxter, James Phinney; Levett, Christoper (1893). Christopher Levett, of York, the pioneer colonist in Casco Bay. Portland, Maine, USA: Gorges Society. Retrieved 13 November 2008.
  6. "The West Dorset (Electoral Changes) Order 2015". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  7. "Dorset West: Seat, Ward and Prediction Details". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. "Interactive map of District councillors". Dorset County Council. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  9. "Electoral division profiles 2013". Dorset County Council. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  10. Sherborne House Archived 12 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine at Sherborne House Arts website
  11. Sherborne House in Dorset to become tourist attraction BBC News Dorset, 7 December 2011
  12. Sherborne House restoration work hits six-month delay Western Gazette, Sherborne, 29 November 2012
  13. "Search Results for Sherborne". Historic England. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  14. "Search results for Castleton". Historic England. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  15. "Largest Sailing Race in 24 Hours (Multiple Venues)". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018.
  16. "Sherborne". Transition Network. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  17. Roud, Steve (2006). The English Year. London: Penguin Books. pp. 385–387. ISBN 978-0-140-51554-1.
  18. " Home". Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  19. " Member Towns". Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  20. "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 11 July 2013.

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