Sherborne, Dorset, England
Old Sherborne Castle is situated in the grounds of the ‘New Sherborne Castle’, half a mile east of Sherborne in the south west of England.
The ruins of ‘Old Sherborne Castle’ comprise of part of a high curtain wall and its three storey gatehouse and parts of the Great Tower and the north range. The castle is within an estate of over 15,000 acres of woodland, formal gardens and a lake
The castle is open daily from 10am between April and November, and has its own small shop selling souvenirs, light refreshments, ice cream and soft drinks, or visitors are invited to picnic within the ruins.
‘Old Sherborne Castle’ was built in the early 12th century as the fortified palace for Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury who was also the Chancellor of England. He served as Chancellor to King Henry I, but after Henry’s death there were great conflicts as to the ownership of the castle, it was seized for the crown before finally being repurchased by the church who kept it until the late 16th century.
Queen Elizabeth persuaded the church to relinquish the estate to the Crown in 1592 after Sir Walter Raleigh fell in love it and petitioned her to acquire it for him. The castle was leased for 99 years to Sir Walter but he decided that the old castle did not meet his needs so he built a new home ‘Sherborne Lodge’ on the south side of the lake in the deer park.
The castle was used for the last time during the civil war when it was twice held for the King, on the second occasion it managed to hold out for over two weeks against General Fairfax. Finally, in the following year the castle’s defenses were partially dismantled to prevent further use and it was left abandoned.
Although the castle is still within the estate owned by the Wingfield Digby family, it now in the care of English Heritage.
Other Castles in the Area
Cary Castle, Somerset
Sherborne Castle, Dorset