Discovering Sherborne’s hip and historic High Street
PUBLISHED: 15:44 23 September 2019
Famous for its great mix of independent retailers, galleries and eateries, Liz Murray explores Sherborne’s hip new openings in some of its most historic buildings
Adding a funky vibe to Cheap Street
The forward-thinking Dodge family seamlessly blends contemporary retail against a backdrop of historic buildings, creating a high street experience fit for the future. Follow the 'zebra door' - between fourth generation family baker Oxford's (baking since 1911) and the town's more recent arrival Costa Coffee - to Circus II. Situated on the first and second floors of a building bought from Finlay's the Tobacconist by Adrian Dodge in 1980, it is also home to Susie Watson Designs. The Dodge family has been retailing in Sherborne since 1846 when William Dodge opened a riding boots and clothing shop at the other end of the high street. Adrian's daughter Samantha is the sixth generation to carry on the tradition. She already heads up The Circus opposite and this new venture expands on its lifestyle boutique. Stylish interior pieces and own-brand soft furnishings sit alongside designer menswear and trainers (think Tresanti shirts, Kinross Cashmere and more) as well as presents for boys of all ages. Or buy into the height of cycling fashion, with everything from a Stolen Goat Cycling Kit to a Terra Bespoke Bicycle.
New kids on the block
Fly Jesse, which opened on Cheap Street in August, is the stuff of fairy tales according to excited young owners Dominic and Polly Drabik. They first met at a local convent school as five-year-olds but didn't meet again for 25 years. They are now proud parents to Rufus (7) and Jesse (18 months old) the inspiration behind the shop's name. With a love of the outdoors, and dog walks in the Dorset countryside, they bring a dynamic family-inspired chic to their shop located on a pretty parade just a few doors down from where Parsons the Butcher has traded since 1840. Dom, who previously followed another dream - living in New Zealand, Ireland and Australia working in the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry - lends his graphic design skills to the business. And both have a keen eye for contemporary gifts for home and family, along with baby accessories and a designer clothing range for children. Retail runs in the family; Thelma Drabik, Dom's mother, is owner of the Melbury Gallery in Sherborne and Dorchester. She will no doubt keep a friendly eye on the latest competition in town, named after her grandchild!
Breathing new life into The Cross Keys
Back in 1823, when Robert Hyatt was landlord at The Cross Keys, Sherborne was an important staging post between London and the West Country; locals and visitors alike would have supped on pints and tucked into pies here, or maybe stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This beautiful Georgian building was totally refurbished before reopening last May. Run by the Gherras family - Mo and Hannah and their four-year-old daughter Ruby - The Cross Keys has quickly built a reputation for its British classics menu and individually styled bedrooms overlooking The Conduit. The family are huge supporters of locally sourced ingredients: you can expect to find Story Pig sausage rolls, local meats, fish and cheeses; Lavender Blue cakes and Liberty Loves tarts served with coffee; along with Sherborne Castle Wines, Forgotten Orchard Cider and Cerne Abbas Ales from behind the bar. Don't miss their Beerfest event on 3 October from 6.30pm.
A fabulous dash of French style
Opened by Paula Young and Julian Hill this summer, D'Urberville is located in a stunning 17th century building on The Parade that was previously the headquarters of the Somerset & Dorset Family History Centre. Look out for the carved emblems of the Saints John the Baptist and Evangelist after whom the building is named. D'Urberville offers antiques for contemporary living and a delightful first floor coffee shop set amongst its vintage and brocante-style wares.
Paula is an expert in restoring furniture using contemporary paint colours and special finishes. She learned her trade while living in France with Julian, upcycling antique furniture as they renovated their home on a budget whilst raising a young family. The main body of the shop and café is on the first floor via a characterful staircase, with access from both The Parade and Half Moon Street. Weekly markets are held every Thursday and Saturday in The Parade, along with a Dorset Farmers' Market every third Friday of the month. Leaded mullioned windows on the first floor offer views onto Sherborne's marketplace as you enjoy coffee and pastries, homemade cakes, or a light lunch. If you fancy learning some upcycling skills then book into D'Urberville's autumn furniture refinishing classes - just bring along a favourite piece that needs bringing into this century.
To the Abbey!
From The Parade, a narrow alleyway leads under the 15th century Bow Arch and past Sherborne Museum to Sherborne Abbey, an architectural treasure house where the community meets not only to worship but also occasionally to be entertained - most recently when nearly 18,000 visitors enjoyed Luke Jerram's spectacular Museum of the Moon installation in July.
Sherborne has what its Rector, Canon Eric Woods, calls a "vibrancy of churches" - a collaboration of different denominations, working under the umbrella of Sherborne Churches Together. An example of that vibrancy can be experienced on Saturday 19th October, when the ecumenical Christian Aid Committee hosts a coffee morning at Cheap Street Church. The same day there is an Open Day in Sherborne School's Junior Common Room (next to The Hub café) to highlight the work of the Abbey's Faith in Action Committee, which supports local, national and international charitable causes.
Meanwhile, Sherborne Abbey will be the starting and finishing point of a Walk For Freedom, a silent single file walk round the town (registration from 10.30am) to draw attention to modern-day human slavery. Along the way walkers will be handing out information leaflets to anyone interested in this cause.
What's on in Sherborne
10 - 14 OCTOBER
PACK MONDAY FAIR
Sherborne's historic Pack Monday Fair starts with weekend entertainment, funfair on The Terraces and traditional fair on the Monday. packmondayfair.com
SHERBORNE FESTIVAL CHORUS
Come and Sing Concert at Sherborne Abbey
Join Paul Ellis, musical director of Sherborne Festival Chorus, for an afternoon of music-making learning popular sacred choruses such as the Hallelujah Chorus, followed by an informal early-evening concert. Runs 1.30-5.15pm, informal concert at 6.15pm. Cost for afternoon £20, students under 18 free of charge. Concert tickets £5 on the door.
SHERBORNE STEAM & WATER WHEEL CENTRE OPEN DAY
See the new waterwheel and the Hindley steam engines under steam at this open day, 11.30am to 3.30pm. Oborne Road (DT9 3RX). sswc.co.uk
19 - 20 OCTOBER
AUTUMN COLOURS WEEKEND AT SHERBORNE CASTLE
Enjoy the spectacular display of autumn colours in the beautiful lakeside gardens. Open 10am-5pm. Half price entry (£4 per adult), under 16s free. sherbornecastle.com
24 - 27 OCTOBER
SHERBORNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
This annual event, now in its 11th year, promises four days of excellent foreign film entertainment (with subtitles) at The Powell Theatre in Abbey Road. Visit rcsc.org.uk for this year's line-up or Sherborne TIC.
SHERBORNE MUSEUM'S BIG FAT AUTUMN QUIZ
A general knowledge quiz with a smattering of Dorset questions. Teams of up to six or book individually and be introduced to a team. 6.30pm Digby Memorial Hall, Digby Road (DT9 3NL). More details 01935 815341 or Sherborne TIC.
TREORCHY MALE VOICE CHOIR
Enjoy a rousing choral concert in the wonderful acoustics of Sherborne Abbey at 7pm. Tickets thelittleboxoffice.com/blackmorevalelions or call into Sherborne TIC.