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Sherborne - Dorset

Sherborne

Sherborne has much to offer visitors and is one of the most beautiful towns in England. Situated on the Dorset and Somerset border it has excellent transport links making it a great centre from which to explore the Wessex area of Dorset and the neighbouring counties of Somerset and Wiltshire. The town has an attractive shopping centre with a large selection of individual shops, including craft shops and boutiques. It is also an important centre for dealers in art and antiques. There are a number of excellent hotels and other accommodation. In addition there are plenty of bars, cafés and restaurants in Sherborne.

Sherborne came from the Saxon words “scir burne” meaning the place of the clear stream . The town became the capital of Wessex and two kings, Ethelbert and Ethelbald were buried in the Abbey here. There were the two elder brothers of Alfred the Great.

The beautiful Abbey Church of Sherborne dates from Saxon times. At the beginning of the 8th century, the large Diocese of Winchester was split in two, and St Aldhelm was appointed the first Bishop of the West Saxons. The Bishop’s seat was moved to Old Sarum, the old name for Salisbury, in 1075 and the church was taken over by the Benedictine monastery. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 16th century, Sir John Horsey acquired the Abbey.

The present Sherborne Castle has been the home of the Digby family since 1617. It was visited by both William of Orange and George III. The house contains impressive collections of art, china and furniture. The gardens and lake were created by Capability Brown in the middle of the 18th century.

There are two interesting waterwheels in Sherborne. The Castleton Wheel was originally built in 1869 and rebuilt some thirty years later. This wheel can be seen working on open days. The Nether Cerne Waterwheel is not in working order but is believed to be one of the oldest completely iron wheels in England.

Sherborne’s small museum contains an excellent local history section with many early photographs and drawings about the townand the area. There are other displays including specific ones featuring the Abbey and the two castles.

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