Sherborne Castle

Richard Ollard looks at the rise and fall of Sherborne Castle.

Before our rulers succeed in their promising efforts to destroy the railway system which used to be the source of such justifiable pride, anyone who has not done so would be well advised to travel along the old South-Western main line from Salisbury to Exeter. It is one of the most ravishing tracts of railway scenery in southern England: and one of its most dramatic moments is when the line suddenly swoops from the hills of Somerset's southern borders down into the Blackmore Vale and you see rising on your left the noble masonry – majestic though in ruin – of Sherborne Castle.

Sherborne is now thought of simply as a name in the list of famous schools, like Oundle or Uppingham. It is not even a county town. Yet it was once a centre of English civilisation, a fact one is reminded of when one realises that the school, whose rugger fields you see as the train pulls out on its westward journey, has a far longer continuous history than Eton or Winchester. It sheltered under the walls of the great abbey where St Aldhelm was bishop from 705-709 and where King Alfred may have been among its pupils. Not until well after the Conquest, in 1075, was the see removed to Salisbury.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.