What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Sherborne and Its Abbey Church
=How to get there.=–Train from Waterloo, via Salisbury. L. and S.W. Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Sherborne. =Distance from London.=–118 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 3-1/4 to 6 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 19s. 8d. 12s. 4d. 9s. 10d. Return 34s. 6d. 21s. 6d. 19s. 8d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Digby Hotel,” “Antelope,” “Half Moon,” etc.
Sherborne is full of archaeological interest, for besides its wonderful Abbey Church, it has the ruins of its castle on a rocky height at the east end of the town and a good number of ancient houses. The town itself is situated on the side of a hill sloping down to the Yeo, and has a clean and quaint aspect. About 705, it was chosen as the seat of a bishopric. The see was removed to Old Sarum in 1078, but the castle continued to be used as an episcopal residence until it was besieged by Stephen, when it became Crown property. The Abbey Church of St. Mary the Virgin is Norman in origin, but it has been so rebuilt and remodelled that it is now practically Perpendicular. The whole church, with the exception of the Lady Chapel, was very carefully restored between 1848 and 1851.
Adjoining the Abbey Church, at the west end, are the remains of the parochial church of Alhalows, a three-aisled church in Decorated or Early Perpendicular style. The monks and the parishioners had many quarrels, one resulting in a fire which destroyed much of the abbey. The Abbey Church was granted by Henry VIII. to Sir John Horsley, who sold it to the parish for £250. There being no further use for Alhalows Church, it was taken down.
The exterior of Sherborne Church has been called unpicturesque, owing to its low central tower and insignificant pinnacles. It is, however, a huge building, and its interior is so richly decorated that it more resembles a cathedral than a parish church. It possesses the finest fan-vault in existence, covered with gilded bosses and heraldic arms. Contrasting with this wonderful richness of decoration are three plain Norman arches.
The nave is divided into five bays by panelled arches, the irregular widths of which are due to the fact that the Norman arches are cased in with Perpendicular work. The south transept has a wonderful roof of black Irish oak.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. SHERBORNE ABBEY CHURCH.
It contains Norman work and some of the finest fan-vaulting in existence.]