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10 of the best things to see and do in Sherborne

PUBLISHED: 09:49 17 March 2015 | UPDATED: 09:49 17 March 2015

Sherborne Castle - photo by William Hollyoak

Sherborne Castle - photo by William Hollyoak

Archant

Greatly sought after as a film location, this charming north Dorset town offers a packed events programme, an impressive array of independent shops, superb schools, two castles, an abbey and an illustrious history

1 - The Jewel in the Sherborne Crown

Any trip to Sherborne must involve a visit to its magnificent abbey. The building is renowned for its ceiling – a fan-vaulted construction - that is surely one of the best examples of its kind in the country. Two Saxon kings – King Ethelbald of Wessex and his brother King Ethelbert of Wessex – are buried here as is the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt.

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2 - Festival Fever

This year’s Sherborne Abbey Festival (1–5 May) features a fascinating line-up of local musicians and schools as well as internationally established performers. Now in its sixteenth year, the Festival collected a Silver Award in the Tourism Event of the Year at the 2014 Dorset Tourism Awards. Highlights for the 2015 Festival include readings by the award-winning author Michael Morpurgo and song performances by John Tmas and Barry Coppe, in a concert version of War Horse, Only Remembered. For the full festival programme visit their website sherborneabbeyfestival.org.

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3 - Artistic Values

The Jerram Gallery, established in 1993, exhibits Contemporary British pictures and sculpture and represents artists whose studios are located throughout Britain. The gallery in Half Moon Street holds six exhibitions throughout the year featuring both established painters and sculptors along with emerging young artists from across the UK.

For more information visit jerramgallery.com.

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4 - Educating the Famous

Sherborne is world famous for its schools. Sherborne School (for boys) was founded by St Aldhelm and according to legend, Alfred the Great was one of the school’s early pupils. ‘Old Shirburnians’ include Hugh Bonneville, Jon Pertwee, Jeremy Irons and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the current emir of Qatar. The Sherborne Girls’ School has educated the likes of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and author Sophie Kinsella. Other renowned schools in the area include Sherborne Prep School, Leweston and Gryphon.

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5 - A Walk Through History

To truly discover Sherborne and its history you need to explore it by foot. There is a fascinating and picturesque walk around the Sherborne area posted on the AA website entitled ‘Raleigh’s Country Retreat at Sherborne’. The 6.4 mile route, which takes in country lanes, gentle hills and pretty villages, reveals the legacy of Sir Walter Raleigh who formerly lived in the Norman castle before building his own manor house on the outskirts of the town in 1594.

More details can be found at theaa.com/walks/raleighs-country-retreat-at-sherborne-420326.

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6 - Raleigh’s Castles

Sherborne has not one but two castles. Sherborne Old Castle dates from the 12th century and is now a romantic ruin in the grounds of Sherborne ‘new’ Castle formerly Sherborne Lodge. The original castle was leased to Sir Walter Raleighin 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Rather than improve the castle, in 1594 Raleigh built a fine four storey lodge in the castle grounds.

In the early 17th century the lodge was acquired by the Digby family who made it a much more substantial and grand building. Parliamentary forces left the Old Castle in ruins and the Tudor lodge became Sherborne New Castle. It’s here that first Sherborne Castle Country Fair was held 20 years ago. Now a well established and popular family event it has a plethora of country activities, stands and one of the best Rare Breed Shows in the country. The Fair is held every late May Bank Holiday, which this year is Monday 25 May. Advanced tickets are 15% cheaper than the on the day. Book them on 01749 813899 or visit sherbornecountryfair.com.

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7 - From Field to Plate

Sherborne Farmers’ Market takes place on Cheap Street on the third Friday of the month between 9am and 1pm. You can expect to find around 30 stalls stocked with local produce, freshly baked bread, meat, fruit and vegetables as well as handmade jewellery and other goods. Sherborne Weekly Market is held in the same location every Thursday and Saturday between 9am and 1pm.

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8 - Lights, Camera, Action!

Sherborne has a starring role in two feature films and a major BBC series that are all set to be released this year. Thomas Vinterberg’s adaption of Thomas Hardy’s fourth novel Far From The Madding Crowd hits the big screen this May. Starring Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge and Mathias Schoenaerts. Locations include Sherborne Abbey, Castleton Church and Abbey Close.

Meanwhile Sherborne School provided the setting for both the BBC adaption of Hilary Mantel’s award-winning novel Wolf Hall and The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which has been nominated for numerous awards including Best Picture as this year’s Oscars.

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9 - Retail Therapy

Sherborne is renowned for its wonderful array of independent shops, which includes the Melbury Gallery. Situated on the corner of Half Moon Street and South Street, the retailer stocks clothes, accessories, gifts, stationary and cards as well as soft furnishings and lighting for the home. They also have a great range of jewellery. Butterfly Bright in Digby Road has a wide selection of beautiful fabrics and yarns as well as gifts and cards and runs an extensive range of craft workshops.

Cheap Street is filled with retail outlets to explore including Weekend (interior design, soft furnishings and clothing), Isabella Dodge at Home (fine fashions and home accessories), The Present Finder (unusual birthday and anniversary gifts), Cilla and Camilla Cookshop, Dodge Interiors (furniture and soft furnishings) and Gathered which offers ‘a curated selection of future heirlooms’. Book lovers should beat path to Winstone’s of Cheap Street which has twice been named South West Independent Bookseller of the Year.

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10 - Gastro-tastic!

Sherborne is renowned for it fantastic food scene. The town is home to Oxford’s Bakery (Cheap Street)– the only steam-powered bakery in the world! Excellent local cafes include Oliver’s Coffee House at 19 Cheap Street (their cherry and almond cake comes highly recommended) and The Bakery Café on The Green which serves a cracking bacon bap. The Green Restaurant (The Green) offers a great value Menu du Jour, three courses for £20 (Tues –Thurs evenings and Tues- Sat lunchtimes), check out this month’s Meet the Chef to find out more. The multi award-winning Eastbury Hotel, a boutique style hotel in Long Street, is a short walk from the heart of town and has a delightful walled garden. It offers fine dining and has a two-course (£19.50) or three course (£24.50) lunch menu as well as their legendary Evening Tasting Menu for £55. Just outside town, The Three Elms in the village of North Wootton serves great pub classics, as well as its ever-popular burger topped with Dorset Blue Vinney!

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Let’s Move to Sherborne

Over the coming years, Sherborne is likely to benefit from a planned £2bn programme of road improvements for the South West of England that will speed up journey times to and from London via the A303. Sherborne has a regular flow of Londoners exiting the city each year in search of more affordable family homes, good schools and a vibrant local community. The town also benefits from having its own railway station with direct services to London Waterloo and Exeter St David’s running every hour.

Sherborne’s schools are one of the town’s main draws, creating competition for the best period homes. However last year most property sales in Sherborne involved terraced properties which sold for on average £268,336. Detached properties sold for an average price of £381,954, while semi-detached properties fetched £246,579. The overall average price of a home at £273,656 was more expensive than nearby Milborne Port (£202,971), but cheaper than Charlton Horethorne (£364,563) and Marnhull (£306,576). Overall, Sherborne prices were down 10% last year but the town’s growing fame and improvement to transport links should fuel an uplift to the market in the future.

With a guide price of £925,000, Humberts of Sherborne is offering a striking five bedroom, family home in one of the town’s most desirable locations. Combining Victorian and Edwardian architecture, the property also has three bath/shower rooms, a dressing room, drawing room, dining room, kitchen/breakfast room, utility room, cloakroom and a spacious reception hall. For further details contact Humberts on 01935 812323 or visit humbersts.com.

Pricing information from rightmove.co.uk (average prices correct as of February 2015)

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