One of the first things you notice about the North Dorset Town of Sherborne is the colour of the buildings which are built primarily from the local Ham Stone, which has a distinct golden tone. Being a relatively soft sandstone most of the sharp edges to the architecture have long since been worn away.
The town retains a majestic 15th century Abbey. The original dated back to the 8th century and was founded by St Aldhelm to whom the Abbey is dedicated. North of the Abbey is Sherborne school for Boys. Founded in 1550 and granted a Royal Charter as a free Grammar school by Edward VI. Probably it's most famous old boy is Alan Turing one of the pioneers of the computer industry.
East of the town are two castles. Old Sherborne Castle was built in 1107-39 by Bishop Roger, Henry I's chancellor. Taken by Cromwell's men in the civil war and later destroyed by them. Sir Walter Raleigh was given the estate by Elizabeth I in recognition of his achievements. In 1594 He decided it was too old and draughty, and built Sherborne Lodge, the nucleus of the present Sherborne Castle, in the grounds nearby. In the 18th century the grounds were landscaped by Capability Brown, and are open to the public.
Sherborne "Old" Castle
Sherborne "Old" Castle is half a mile east of the town and is owned by English Heritage. The ruins date from the early 12th century and was built for Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury (1103-1139) and Abbot of Sherborne (1103-1122). Roger was the largest landowner in the area and was Principal Advisor to King Henry I. After the death of Henry I, the castle was taken from Roger and remained in royal hands. During this period the castle served as a fort and for a time as a prison. In 1354, the church regained title to the castle, and it served as a residence for the visiting Bishops. Sir Walter Ralegh obtained title to the castle in 1592 and set about modernizing the castle, but in two years gave up and built a new castle nearby. During the Civil War between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, the new owner, Lord Digby, held the castle against attacks by the rebels. In 1645, on the third siege of the castle, it fell to Oliver Cromwell and General Fairfax of the Parliamentarians. The castle was then abandoned until 1956 when the Digby family gave it to the nation as a national monument.
The Abbey Church of St. Mary (Sherborne Abbey)
The site of the present-day parish church was consecrated in 705 by King Ine of Wessex and Saint Aldhelm (the first literate Saxon). The church has, in its 1200 year history, been a cathedral, abbey, and monastery. History of the church includes a battle between the monks and the townspeople in 1437 which resulted in the destruction of the roof. The bell tower contains the heaviest set of 8 bells in the world. The average weight of the bells being over one ton. The bells date from 1350 to 1653.
There is a Market on Thursdays and Saturdays.