On 24th October fourteen people traveling in four cars met up at Sherborne Castle on a rather misty but very pleasant autumn morning.
Our guide, Rita, gave us an outside introduction to the history of the two castles of Sherborne before moving into a wing of the home built for Sir Walter Raleigh.
The first Sherborne Castle was Norman- a classic motte & bailey construction of which only the shell remains of the keep. It was put out of use by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War so that any threat from it was eliminated. Before this, at the end of the 16th, Sir Walter Raleigh had built a big lodge a few hundred yards from the castle. After Raleigh was executed in 1618 the house was sold to the Digby family who have held it ever since. The house was considerably expanded during the C17th and C18th and took on the description ‘castle’ – although it isn’t fortified.
We wandered through the sumptuous rooms, each beautifully decorated and furnished with a great many historical portraits. The tour ended in the marvelously equipped kitchen of Raleigh’s castle.
After a snack lunch most of us went for walks around the grounds laid out by Capability Brown in the C18th.
We moved on to Sherborne Abbey at around 2pm. The abbey was the cathedral for Wessex from 705AD until 1075. In the early 900s part of the diocese was split off into separate dioceses at Wells and Crediton and in 1075 the see was moved to Old Sarum.
There are traces of the Saxon church still visible in the shape of a well-preserved doorway and the C12th south-west doorway is in brilliant Romanesque style. The C15th fan vaulting of the nave and chancel is quite breathtaking and all of the fittings of the interior are outstanding.
A group of seven of us went from the abbey for a cup of tea (or coffee) in an incredible bookshop that doubles as a café. It seemed a little chaotic – but they served an excellent cuppa.
We arrived home at around 6pm after a very satisfying day.
Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.