Sherborne, Dorset, England
Sherborne Castle is situated half a mile east of Sherborne in the south west of England.
The original rectangular four storey house with hexagonal corner turrets is the centerpiece of the castle with the later additions of four wings and further towers being attached to the four corners. The castle is built of a light colored stone with brick detail.
Within the grounds across the lake are the ruins of the original 12th century ‘Old Sherborne Castle’.
The castle is open to the public between April and November 11am until 4.30pm at the weekends and from Tuesday to Thursday.
The castle’s interior displays many items from the Digby collection including fine porcelain, art and furniture; other parts of the collection are held at Berrington Hall in Herefordshire. Visitors can also visit the medieval kitchens giving an idea of what life was like ‘below stairs’.
The gardens and parklands are a very popular place to visit with walks around the lake with places to stop and enjoy a picnic, feed the birds or marvel at the ancient trees.
Civil wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, renewal of vows ceremonies and naming ceremonies can all be held at the castle. Ceremonies take place in the Tudor parlour, the 18th century Orangery with a lakeside view or the Tudor entrance hall suitable for up to 75 guests.
The original ‘Old Sherborne Castle’ was built in the early 12th century as the fortified palace for Roger de Caen, Bishop of Salisbury. In 1592 Queen Elizabeth persuaded the church to relinquish the estate and leased it for 99 years to Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh decided that the old castle didn’t meet his needs so he built a new home ‘Sherborne Lodge’ on the south side of the lake in the deer park.
After living in the lodge for only ten years Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason and was beheaded. His estates were forfeited to the King James who then sold the castle to the Earl of Bristol, Sir John Digby in 1617. The Digby family added four wings to the house, keeping the original corner towers in place.
Following the civil war, and the dismantling of the ‘old’ castle the lodge took on the name of ‘new’ Sherborne Castle. Henry Digby, 7th Earl, appointed Capability Brown to create the lake and parkland in 1753, separating the old and new castles in the latest fashion. The last Earl Digby died in the 19th century and so the estate passed to a nephew Wingfield Digby and is still within the family today.
The castle has never seen conflict although it has been used both as a military hospital during World War I by the Red Cross and as the headquarters for soldiers involved in the D Day landings.
Other Castles in the Area
Cary Castle, Somerset
Old Sherborne Castle, Dorset