Sherborne is a vibrant market town in north west Dorset, situated on the edge of the Blackmore Vale and close to the border with Somerset. It is surrounded by wooded hillsides and green pastures. Yeovil is just 6 miles to the east. Of all the towns in Dorset Sherborne has to be one of my favourites. It has a distinctive charm with plenty of independent shops, cafes and places of interest. Sherborne is full of medieval and Georgian buildings which have been built using a lovely honey brown sandy limestone.

Google map

Sherborne Abbey in the heart of the town
Sherborne Abbey – founded by St. Aldhelm in AD 705, the Abbey has devolped from a Saxon cathedral to one of the most beautiful of England’s parish churches.

The magnificent Sherborne Abbey takes centre place in the town and is well worth a look inside (free admission but a donation is welcomed). The current structure mainly dates from the 15th century. Saxon and Norman remains also survive having once been used as a cathedral to the 26 Saxon bishops of West Wessex from 705-1078. Next door to the Abbey are the charming arches of the picturesque almshouses.

Just out of town can be found two castles. Sherborne Old Castle dates from the 12th century and now lies in ruins. The newer Sherborne Castle is a 16th century mansion built by Sir Walter Raleigh. Both are open to the public, admission charges apply.

Sherborne Map
Sherborne Map and guide to the town
St. Johns Almshouse next to the Abbey
St. Johns Almshouse is next to the Abbey. The Almshouse has provided shelter and care for the people of Sherborne for over 500 years. It was built in the mid 15th century and is now home to 18 elderly residents. Dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist it his one of Dorset’s oldest serving almshouse.
The chapel at St Johns Almhouse is open to visitors between 2pm and 4pm on Wed, Thurs & Sat May-Sept.
Another view of the lovely arches of the St. Johns Almshouse.
View of Sherborne Abbey from the St. John Almshouse.
View of the Parade (town square) on Cheap Street in front of the Cross Keys pub and next to The Conduit building.
The Conduit in the Market Place in Sherborne
This building is known as The Conduit and located on the corner of Cheap Street and Long Street in the town square known as The Parade. It was originally the monks’ washhouse built against the cloisters in 1512. It was moved in 1553 to Cheap Street and used to supply water to the townsfolk.
Corner of The Parade. D’Urberville is a French style Cafe and antiques shop. Note the obvious Thomas Hardy connection with his novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy and Sherborne

In Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles Tess was born and brought up in the village of Marlott. This fictional village was based on the village of Marnhull which is about 10 miles east of Sherborne in the heart of the Blackmore Vale. The Durbeyfield home is a lovely thatched cottage (now called Tess Cottage) just south of the village. Tours of the cottage can be arranged through The Hardy Society.

Thomas Hardy’s last three novels – TessJude the Obscure and The Woodlanders – were all largely based in North Dorset.

In Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders Sherborne is referred to as Sherton Abbas. The market place is where Giles Winterborne stood with his sample apple trees and Sherborne Abbey is where Giles and Grace Melbury talked of their future.

The town was also transformed into a 19th century fair for the 2015 film of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd. Other key locations used in the film were West Bay, Mapperton House and Forde Abbey.

Cheap Street, Sherborne. This is basically the High Street with many of the shops and cafes
A view looking up the principle shopping street called Cheap Street. It is lined with fine Georgian and Victorian frontages which mask much older medieval buildings. Visitors who love shopping won’t be disappointed as there are plenty of independent shops including elegant fashion boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, shops selling handicrafts, fruit and veg, as well as some of the usual high street chains and the odd charity shop.
Further up Cheap Street.

Sherborne Markets

The Pannier Market is held every Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm. The location is at The Parade – the small square outside the Cross Keys pub and next to The Conduit.

The Farmers’ Market is held on the third Friday in every month along Cheap Street from 9am till 1pm . The market typically has around 30 stalls.

If you are interested in markets then visit our web page Dorset Market Days

Cheap Street Church
Cheap Street Church – is a joint Methodist and United Reformed congregation. The church is set back slightly from the main shopping street.
Cheap Street Church Sherborne
Cheap Street Church
Cheap Street is the main shopping street.
There are some lovely independent shops in Sherborne.

Related Pages: Sherborne Abbey / Sherborne Castle / Sherborne Old Castle