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Market town
Sherborne abbey.jpg
Sherborne Abbey
Sherborne is located in Dorset
Location within Dorset
Population10,365 (2021 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceST638165
• London124 mi (200 km)
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townSherborne
Postcode districtDT9
Dialling code01935
FireDorset and Wiltshire
AmbulanceSouth Western
UK Parliament
List of places
50°56′49″N 2°31′02″W / 50.9469°N 2.5171°W / 50.9469; -2.5171Coordinates: 50°56′49″N 2°31′02″W / 50.9469°N 2.5171°W / 50.9469; -2.5171
Arms of Sherborne Town Council
Image: 150 pixels
CrestOut of an Ancient Crown Or a double headed and twin-tailed Wyvern 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.
Registered 1986[3]

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 parish includes the hamlets of Nether Coombe and Lower Clatcombe. 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.[4] 28.7% of the population is aged 65 or older.[5]

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, a name meaning "clear stream", after a brook that runs through the centre of the town,[6] and is referred to as such in the Domesday Book.


The Conduit

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 Dorset, Somerset, and 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.[7] The bishop's seat was moved to Old Sarum in 1075 and the church at Sherborne became a Benedictine monastery. In 1437 the Abbey was damaged by fire after tensions between the town and the monastery came to a head, but much of the Norman structure stands today. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in 1539, the vacated monastery buildings were bought by Sir John Horsey and became the parish church. Sherborne was the centre of a hundred of the same name for many centuries.

In the 12th century Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of England, built a fortified palace in Sherborne. During the English Civil War, the palace was destroyed in 1645 by General Fairfax. Its ruins are now 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.[8]


In the UK national parliament, Sherborne is within the West Dorset parliamentary constituency. As of 2021, the Member of Parliament (MP) Chris Loder 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.[9][10][11] In county council elections, Dorset is divided into 42 electoral divisions, with Sherborne's two wards together forming Sherborne Electoral Division.[12]


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 operates Sherborne International, a school which seeks to integrate international students into the British public school tradition.

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

Sherborne Preparatory School is located opposite Sherborne School, and many of its pupils choose to go on to Sherborne School or Sherborne Girls.

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.

The town also has two primary schools, Sherborne Abbey Primary School and Sherborne Primary School.

Historic buildings[edit]

Notable historic buildings in the town include:

The almshouses of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist: founded in 1437 and building completed in 1448. It was expanded in 1866 in indistinguishable medieval style architecture;

The conduit: originally built in the Abbey Cloister c.1520 as the Monks' wash place, but moved to the Market Place in 1560;

Hospice of St Julian: founded in c.1405;

No. 101 Newland: built 1297;

Lord Digby school, now known as Sherborne House (designed by Benjamin Bastard). Sherborne House, famed for its mural by Sir James Thornhill,[13] 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.[14] Its renovation included rebuilding an unstable rear wall.[15]

St Emerenciana's Chapel (now known as Nethercoombe Farm); built in the late 14th century. The only building in the country to have been dedicated to this saint.

There are 378 listed buildings within the town[16] and 23 in Castleton (considered to be an inclusion of Sherborne),[17] totalling 401, including 14 Grade I listed buildings and 21 Grade II* listed buildings.


The parish church, known as Sherborne Abbey is the most prominent building in the town.

There is a Catholic Church, Church of St Aldhelm and the Sacred Heart, on Westbury.[18]

Cheap Street Church is a joint Methodist and United Reformed congregation.[19]


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

Notable residents[edit]

Environment and community[edit]

The Almshouses

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,[21] running a number of projects and events as a community response to climate change and peak oil.

Pack Monday Fair[edit]

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.[22]

Sport and leisure[edit]

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

International relations[edit]

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.[23][24] Discussions regarding membership are also in hand with three further towns (Agros in Cyprus, Škofja Loka in Slovenia, and Tryavna in Bulgaria).

Spain Altea, Spain – 1991
Germany Bad Kötzting, Germany – 1991
Italy Bellagio, Italy – 1991
Republic of Ireland Bundoran, Ireland – 1991
France Granville, France – 1991[25]
Denmark Holstebro, Denmark – 1991
Belgium Houffalize, Belgium – 1991
Netherlands Meerssen, the Netherlands – 1991
Luxembourg Niederanven, Luxembourg – 1991
Greece Preveza, Greece – 1991
Portugal Sesimbra, Portugal – 1991
United Kingdom Sherborne, United Kingdom – 1991
Finland Karkkila, Finland – 1997
Sweden Oxelösund, Sweden – 1998
Austria Judenburg, Austria – 1999
Poland Chojna, Poland – 2004
Hungary Kőszeg, Hungary – 2004
Latvia Sigulda, Latvia – 2004
Czech Republic Sušice, Czech Republic – 2004
Estonia Türi, Estonia – 2004
Slovakia Zvolen, Slovakia – 2007
Lithuania Prienai, Lithuania – 2008
Malta Marsaskala, Malta – 2009
Romania 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.

See also[edit]

Sources and references[edit]

General sources[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Sherborne". City population. Retrieved 25 October 2022.
  2. ^ "Sherborne Parish". Retrieved 5 January 2023.
  3. ^ "South West Region". Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "Age Structure, 2011 (KS102EW) – Sherborne (Parish)". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  6. ^ "History of Sherborne". Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  7. ^ Studies in the Early History of Shaftesbury Abbey. Dorset County Council, 1999
  8. ^ Baxter, James Phinney; Levett, Christoper (1893). Christopher Levett, of York, the pioneer colonist in Casco Bay. Portland, Maine, USA: Gorges Society. p. 7. Retrieved 13 November 2008. christopher levett sherborne.
  9. ^ "The West Dorset (Electoral Changes) Order 2015". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Dorset West: Seat, Ward and Prediction Details". Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  11. ^ "Interactive map of District councillors". Dorset County Council. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Electoral division profiles 2013". Dorset County Council. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  13. ^ Sherborne House at Sherborne House Arts website. Archived 12 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Sherborne House in Dorset to become tourist attraction". BBC News Dorset, 7 December 2011
  15. ^ "Sherborne House restoration work hits six-month delay". Western Gazette, Sherborne, 29 November 2012.
  16. ^ "Search Results for Sherborne". Historic England. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Search results for Castleton". Historic England. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  18. ^ "Sherborne Catholic Church". Sherborne Town. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Welcome to Cheap Street Church". Cheap Street Church. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Largest Sailing Race in 24 Hours (Multiple Venues)". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Sherborne". Transition Network. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  22. ^ Roud, Steve (2006). The English Year. London: Penguin Books. pp. 385–387. ISBN 978-0-140-51554-1.
  23. ^ " Home". Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  24. ^ " Member Towns". Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
  25. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 11 July 2013.

External links[edit]