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The Hidden Beauty of Dorset's Sherborne

submitted on 28 July 2023 by uklistings.org

Introduction

Imagine a place where time seems to stand still, where ancient buildings and picturesque landscapes transport you to a bygone era. A place where the air is pure, the countryside is embraced by rolling hills, and the only thing louder than the church bells is the bustling chatter of local shopkeepers and pub-goers. This is the quintessential English town of Sherborne, Dorset. Now, bear with me because I know what you’re thinking – “another boring, peaceful English town that’s probably only good for napping and sipping tea.” And while I completely understand your concern (I myself have been known to fall asleep against my will in a quaint English countryside), Sherborne is anything but a snooze-fest. In fact, it’s a treasure trove of history, beauty, and downright hilarious quirks that make it the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.

The History of Sherborne

Located in the northwest corner of Dorset, Sherborne was once the capital of Wessex and played a vital role in England's history. The town's rich past can be traced back to the Saxon times when St. Aldhelm, the first Bishop of Sherborne, founded a monastery in 705 AD (that’s right, we’re talking about a time when the Vikings were still just a twinkle in Scandinavia’s eye). Luckily for us, the ravages of time have been kind to Sherborne, and much of its ancient history remains standing today. So, let's embark on a journey through this charming town's past to see what hidden gems we can uncover.

The Sherborne Abbey

The first stop on our historical tour is the stunning Sherborne Abbey, which, in my humble opinion, should be renamed the "Cathedral of Holy Mackerel" due to its jaw-dropping beauty and the fact that I can't help but blurt out "holy mackerel" every time I lay eyes on it. Built in the 12th century, this former Benedictine monastery is now a parish church and features some of England's finest fan vaulting and medieval stained glass windows. Upon entering the Abbey, you'll be greeted by the imposing tombs of Sir Walter Raleigh's relatives, who probably never thought they'd be sharing their eternal resting place with tourists snapping selfies. The Abbey is also home to the Saxon shrines of St. Aldhelm and St. Wulfsige, as well as the 15th-century reredos – an ornate wooden screen that's so detailed, it could give Michelangelo's "David" a run for his money.

Sherborne Castle

Next on our adventure, we'll stroll down to the over 400-year-old Sherborne Castle, which makes Downton Abbey look like a shabby little cottage. Built by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594, this architectural wonder is now home to the Digby family, who, I assume, are constantly bickering over who gets to sleep in the castle's most luxurious bedroom. While the castle itself is impressive, the real star of the show is its 1,200-acre park designed by the master of landscape gardening himself, Capability Brown. Here you'll find tranquil lakes, lush woodlands, and even a few friendly deer that might let you take a selfie with them if you're lucky.

Sherborne's Quirky Traditions

Now, what would a trip to Sherborne be without experiencing some of its delightfully quirky traditions? For instance, every year on the last Monday in July, the town hosts the Sherborne Country Fair – a delightful event where you'll find everything from vegetable competitions to ferret racing (yes, you read that correctly). And let's not forget the annual Pack Monday Fair, which dates back to the 13th century and sees the streets of Sherborne filled with food stalls, rides, and games. Legend has it that the fair was originally started as a way for farmers to sell their surplus livestock, but nowadays, it's more of an excuse for the locals to let loose and enjoy a bit of revelry.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – the hidden beauty of Dorset's Sherborne. This charming town offers a unique blend of ancient history, stunning architecture, and quirky traditions that are sure to delight and amuse visitors of all ages. Whether you're a history buff, a lover of beautiful landscapes, or just someone who enjoys a good ferret race, Sherborne is a must-visit destination that's guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

 







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