Things to see and do in Sherborne

PUBLISHED: 16:19 09 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:19 09 May 2016

Sherborne Castle set in grounds designed by Capability Brown

Sherborne Castle set in grounds designed by Capability Brown


With its wealth of historic buildings to admire, a vibrant high street to browse and a lively events calendar this beautiful north Dorset town has so much to offer, says Andy Greeves

Shop around

Sherborne’s rich history extends to its local shops and businesses. J&M Parsons at 39 Cheap Street is a family butchers that has been serving the town since 1840, while Oxford’s Bakery in the nearby village of Alweston has been baking bread since 1911 and is the only steam-powered bakery in the world. For a great range of wines and expert tutored tastings try Vineyards of Sherborne in Digby Road.

There is tradition aplenty at Riley’s Cycles on Trendle Street too. Set in a pleasant courtyard, Riley’s supplies new bikes, parts and accessories and has an on-site service and repairs workshop. Almondsburys at 46 Cheap Street is a family-owned business stocking furniture, homeware, lighting, gifts, handbags and much more. The Jerram Gallery on Half Moon Street, exhibits contemporary British art and sculpture. Exhibiting artists in 2016 include Katherine Swinfen Eady, Richard Pikesley, Howard Phipps, Adam Binder and Emma Brownjohn.

Fashion is very much part of the town’s shopping experience. Sherborne-based designer Perri Ashby, who has decades of experience producing collections for international fashion houses, has a boutique on Half Moon Street. Diva on Long Street offers high end fashion brands such as Jean Muir, Caroline Charles, Paul Costelloe and Ghost. Arabella’s Dress Agency at 243 Westbury sells women’s fashion, bags and accessories, while next door, Togs specialises in clothes, books and gifts for babies and children. Also worth checking out are Ginger & Pickles, White Feather and the Melbury Gallery.

The Circus, a new lifestyle and fashion boutique at 33 Cheap Street, is run by cousins Isabella and Samantha Dodge, whose ancestor William Dodge opened a shop in Sherborne selling riding boots and clothing in 1846. Opposite, at number 28, is Dodge Interiors home to classic, contemporary and traditional ranges of upholstery, carpets, wallpaper, paint and curtains. For beautiful vintage furniture try Edward Oliver in Trendle Street.

Butterfly Bright, now in new premises at 81 Cheap Street, is a treasure trove of colourful fabrics and yarns, and runs knitting and sewing workshops.

Sherborne is a bibliophile’s dream. Chapter House Books on Trendle Street, which also incorporates the excellent Sanctuary Coffee Shop, contains over 35,000 titles ranging from antiquarian to modern. While Winstone’s at 8 Cheap Street, has twice been South West Independent Bookseller of the Year.

Local markets include the Pannier Market on the Parade (Thursday/Saturday), and the Farmers’ Market on Cheap Street (third Friday morning of the month). The Country Market (Thursdays morning) and Sherborne Vintage Market (last Saturday of the month 8.30am – 3.30pm) are at the Church Hall on Digby Road, while the Big Little Market (every fourth Sunday 11am - 4pm) is at Digby Hall on Hound Street. 

A whole lot of history

As a former capital of Wessex, Sherborne is home to a wealth of historic buildings including two castles, a Benedictine abbey and a 15th-century alms house. So its no wonder that it is often sought out as a film location. Sherborne Abbey, Castleton Church and Abbey Close were amongst the locations used in Thomas Vinterberg’s 2015 adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd.

With buildings dating from the 16th-century, Sherborne School featured as a location in the BBC drama Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s prize-winning novel. It also provided the school days setting for The Imitation Game, a film about former pupil and code breaker Alan Turing. Other alumni include actor Jeremy Irons, Coldplay front man Chris Martin and Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville.

One of the best ways to learn about Sherborne’s wonderful history is to take a walking tour with Blue Badge Guide, Cindy Chant ( Walks take place every Tuesday and Thursday (until 29 September), starting from the Tourist Information Centre on Digby Road (Tuesdays) and at the Post Office (Thursdays).

In 1991, Sherborne became founding member of the Douzelage – a town-twinning association with a town from each of the original 12 member states of the European Union. Set up with the aim of promoting educational, sporting, cultural and employment links within Europe, the organisation has grown to 27 member towns – one in each current EU country. With the Douzelage celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016, a host of special events are planned for Sherborne in August. Visit for more details.

A taste of Sherborne

Popular cafes in Sherborne include the Bakery Café on The Green, which does brilliant breakfasts, while Oliver’s at 19 Cheap Street - situated in the 1927 art deco premises of Mould & Edwards pork butchers - is renowned for its flat whites and almond and cherry cake and was a worthy finalist in the Dorset Magazine Food, Drink and Farming Best Tearoom/Coffee Shop category last year. Other local recommendations include The Three Wishes and The Townhouse Bakery for a quick lunch.

For fine dining try The Dining Room on Westbury, situated in a former school erected in 1743 by Lord William Digby. Open for lunch and dinner, it specialises in contemporary British cuisine with many locally sourced ingredients. The Eastbury on Long Street, is an elegant Georgian hotel with beautiful gardens and a 2 AA rosette fine dining restaurant, as well as offering a less formal lounge and bar menu for a light lunch or afternoon tea. Another must try is The Green on Cheap Street headed up by talented chef and forager Sasha Matkevich.

Tapas restaurant Vida Comida at The Swan on Cheap Street opened last autumn and has quickly established itself as a popular eatery in the town. Owner Rob Davies is a former school teacher who fell in love with Spanish cuisine during a two-year spell teaching maths in Madrid.

A short drive outside of town, The Grange at Oborne is a lovely country hotel that has an excellent reputation for its cuisine. Other recommended places to eat within a few miles of Sherborne include The White Hart at Bishops Caundle and The Three Elms at North Wootton.


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