People love a famous face, and Sherborne’s History is rich with names worth dropping both in both ancient circles and modern.
So, in chronological order, here’s a run through of who’s who…..
Bishop Roger of Salisbury (1102-39) and Lord of Sherborne manor. Bishop Roger built the Old Castle which lies in the East of the town.
When the Abbey was a Cathedral 706-1075. St Wulfsin, St Juthware, King Æthelbald of Wessex and his brother King Ethelbert were buried here. Their younger brother, King Alfred the Great was educated by the monks in Sherborne Abbey.
Eleanor of Aquitaine, Edward I, and the Black Prince visited the castle during the time that the Crown took it over, and held if for 200 years.
Sir Walter Raleigh, soldier, sailor, explorer, colonist, statesman, MP, scholar, poet and courtier. He was granted the Old Castle by Queen Elizabeth I with the manor in 1591. He then built the central part of the New Castle across the lake to the South East of the town. he called Sherborne his “fortune’s fold”. (You all know, by now how fond I am of Walter.)
The Digby Family. Sherborne New Castle has been their home since 1617.
Sir Winston Churchill’s ancestor John Churchill, first Duke of Marlbrough was the son of Winston Churchill of Glanvilles Wootton. Randolph, son of Sir Winston, married the honourable Pamela Digby of Minterne Magna.
Alexander Pope, the poet. Stayed at Sherborne Castle.
Benjamin Jesty, a young farmer from the village of Yetminster, just south of Sherborne, carried out the first authenticated vaccination against smallpox in 1774. He successfully used matter from a cow infected with cow pox to inoculate his wife and two young sons.
Parson Woodforde -famous for Diary of a Country Parson– was at the Antelope Hotel, Greenhill in August 1789.
William Charles Macready, the famous actor, lived in Sherborne House in Newland 1851-1860. He was visited by his novelist friends, William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens.
Lawrence Whistler engraved the glass reredos which can be seen in the Lady Chapel in Sherborne Abbey.
John Cowper Powys, and Llewellyn Powys along with other members of their literary family schooled here (their father was the vicar at Montacute just over the border into Somerset).
Other notable Old Shirburnians include:
- Cecil Day Lewis,
- David Cornwell (John Le Carre),
- Jeremy Irons,
- Nigel Dempster,
- Lance Percival,
- Alan Turing,
- Rev. David Sheppard, Bishop of Liverpool,
- Christopher Chattaway,
- Hugh Bonneville,
- John Le Mesurier,
- John Pertwee,
- Chris Martin (of the band Coldplay).
…to name but a few!
Horace Vachell, the novelist, lived in Priory House on Greenhill.
Archbishop Lord Fisher of Lambeth and Lady Fisher spent the first year of their retirement in a house in Hound Street, before moving to Trent, near Sherborne, where they are both buried in the churchyard.
The town is also home to the well known folk group The Yetties, who taking their name from nearby Yetminster, have lived in the town for many, many years. (Pete Shutler having sadly died only a couple of years ago).
Not forgetting finally, that Thomas Hardy, writer and poet, called the town ‘Sherton Abbas’ in his novels.
So there you have it.
Our beautiful little town still attracts attention even today, with celebrities spotted visiting within more recent years including Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Irons, Sean Bean, Orlando Bloom, Griff Rhys Jones, John Cleese, Sarah Beeny, Kevin McCloud, and Lulu.
I’m expecting a booking for a Guided Tour any day now….