Monastic churches in Dorset and Hampshire - 4

Sherborne Abbey

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset, the Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin: A beautiful building with lots of history.

The known history goes back to 705, though there is a suggestion of a Celtic church on this site dating from 658. A cathedral was founded here, as part of the plan to split the all-too-large diocese of Winchester. This was the cathedral of Western Wessex.
 Aldhelm, later Saint Aldhelm, was appointed the first bishop by King Ine of Wessex. . In 998 then then bishop, Wulfsin, founded a Benedictine monastery here and became its abbot. In 1075 the cathedral was moved to Old Sarum, later Salisbury. The monastery survived until the dissolution, when it was bought by the people of Sherborne and it became the parish church.
   Much of the abbey complex (unusually, to the north of the abbey) is now part of Sherborne School, which was founded alongside the cathedral in 705, making it one of the oldest schools in the country.  

   Inside there are features from various periods, from Saxon until the fifteenth century. Most impressive is the fan vaulting, completed in 1490.

Reredos by R H Carpenter, 1884

Saxon doorway

Another wonderful feature is the misericords, especially the one showing a poor chap being given a walloping.

The North Choir Aisle contains what is believed to be the tombs of King Ęthelbald of Wessex and his brother King Ethelbert of Wessex, elder brothers to Alfred the Great.

                         On to Farnborough Abbey                                             Back to Wimborne Minster                                       

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