Attractions in Sherborne
Sherborne has a fascinating history with plenty of ancient and beautiful buildings including a superb Abbey, picturesque Almshouse and not one but two castles! Sherborne’s many attractions make it an ideal place for a holiday or day trip.
A town of two castles
During your visit make sure you go to see the impressive and picturesque castles.
Sherborne Old Castle is a 12th century ruin that was destroyed during the Civil War and is located in beautiful grounds right next to Sherborne Castle and Gardens (the newer of the two castles). Previously owned by the famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, only the Southwest Gatehouse, the Great Tower and the North Range survived the war. Today, the grounds are fantastic for exploring and are a haven for wildlife and birds. It is also a perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day.
Built in 1594 by Sir Walter Raleigh, Sherborne Castle and Gardens has been the stately home of the Digby family since 1617. After the demolition of the Old Castle, the mansion acquired the name Sherborne Castle. There is plenty to see at the castle, with beautiful landscaped gardens by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown and the Family Museum where visitors can see Raleigh’s Kitchen, fascinating family artefacts, plus a Fossil and Archive display. The garden's centrepiece is a magnificent lake and we advise that you have plenty of time to explore and really appreciate the beauty of what's on offer. Please note that the castle grounds are only open during certain times of the year, please check the website before your visit.
The history of Sherborne
Visit the Sherborne Museum and find out more about the town’s history, going as far back as Roman times. The museum holds various exhibitions throughout the year and it is well worth a visit. Here you will find the model of the Sherborne Old Castle and a digital version of the Sherborne Missal - a large and lavishly decorated service book for masses that dates from the Middle Ages.
Sherborne Steam and Waterwheel Centre has a special place in Sherborne’s history as it used to provide a water supply to the town from 1869 until 1959. Then in 1876 a Hindley steam engine and boiler were installed to help with the output of water delivered by the waterwheel. It now is run by a local group of volunteers who over the past 25 years have rescued the waterwheel and its house. Visitors can see the restored waterwheel and refurbished steam engine running on open days.
Beautiful Sherborne Abbey
A must-see attraction when visiting Sherborne is the Abbey and its beautiful stone, fan-vaulted ceiling. The Abbey Church can be dated back to the 15th century and has the heaviest peal of 8 bells in the world. Another feature to look out for on your visit is the magnificent Great West Window which was created by John Hayward and dedicated to Her Majesty The Queen in 1998. Guided tours of the Abbey take place on a regular basis between April and November and pre-arranged tours for larger groups can also be booked. The Abbey also plays host to some wonderful concerts throughout the year.
In front of the Abbey is the Digby Memorial which was built in 1884 to commemorate the life of George Wingfield Digby, a benefactor of the Victorian restoration of the Abbey.
Step back in time
Located near to the Abbey is the beautiful St Johns Almshouse. It was built in 1437-38 to house 17 poor men and women, when residents received full board, lodging and clothing in return for surrendering their possessions and agreeing to abide by the rules of the house. It continues to care for the elderly today and is open to the public to visit during the summer months.
A little further afield
Situated not far from Sherborne are some fantastic museums which provide a great day out for all ages. Haynes Motor Museum is a multi-award winning motor museum with over 400 amazing cars and bikes on display. With a packed programme of exhibitions, tours, talks and events running throughout the year. there is more than enough to interest motoring enthusiasts, young and old!
The Fleet Air Arm Museum represents the Royal Navy in the Air. With four exhibition halls, more than ninety aircraft, over two million records and thirty thousand artefacts, it is is Europe's largest naval aviation Museum. In addition it houses the first British Concorde which you can go on board and view the cockpit!
So what are you waiting for, start planning your short break or day trip to Sherborne.
Discover Sherborne's fantastic variety of places to eat out to suit all tastes and budgets.
This traditional high street is packed with boutiques, art galleries, delis and antique shops.
Sherborne is surrounded by beautiful countryside easily explored on foot or by bike.
You'll find lots of options for places to stay overnight in Sherborne.