With more than 15,000 local artefacts, Sherborne Museum is a fascinating place to visit if you're interested in the Sherborne of days gone by. It's located in the heart of the town, close to five ancient buildings from its history: Sherborne School, the Almshouse, the Conduit, the Old Church House and the Abbey.
Apart from a few purchases, the items have all been donated by local residents, and the displays are enhanced by models, illustrations and back-drops by local artists.
The following notes highlight a few of the items from different periods which are on display at Sherborne Museum:
In 1136 Bishop Roger completed a fortified palace a little to the East of the Abbey. Only the ruins now stand, but models and drawings show the impressive scale of the Old Castle which survived for 500 years until destroyed by Oliver Cromwell.
A wall painting of 1480, taken from a medieval house nearby, was discovered only in 1962 under layers of paper and whitewash. It illustrates a legend, explained in a panel, concerning a cleric who conjured a (disarmingly perky) devil into a boot.
Sir Walter Raleigh
In 1592 Sir Walter Raleigh acquired the Castle and Manor of Sherborne and intended to spend his retirement years there. He built a fine new house a short distance away, retaining the Castle for ceremonial use. His house forms the heart of what is now known as the New Castle. Sir Walter and his wife enjoyed their new home for less than nine years before his execution under James I.
In 1617 the estate with the two castles was purchased by Sir John Digby and has now remained in the Digby family for nearly four centuries. Plans, drawings and other items in the Museum illustrate Sir Walter Raleigh's original building and the several enlargements made by the Digby family.
Gerald Pitman Collection
Nineteenth-century Sherborne is brought to life by a very wide range of items. Of particular interest is the Gerald Pitman collection of photographs; paintings and drawings of Sherborne; and the David Hunt photographic collection of 5,000 prints and 9,000 plastic negatives and glass plates recording events and people in the town since 1880.
The Costume Collection, of which a selection is on display, contains a number of items with links to local people.
The fully furnished Sherborne Dolls House is on permanent display for the delight of children of all ages.
We have expanded our education programme and have close links with local schools. Loan boxes are now available on a number of topics and outreach visits can be arranged. Thanks to the latest technology the Sherborne Missal can be viewed as a digital 'Turning the Pages'
The staff and the curator of the Museum are always happy to answer visitor's enquiries and to give access, by arrangement in advance, for serious students to material which may not be on general display.
Sherborne Museum is an Accredited Museum. We have been granted our accreditation with no areas recommended for further improvement - quite an achievement for a small volunteer museum. It means we meet National standards of care in all areas!
One to one visits can now be arranged by appointment for visitors with a wide range of disability problems or those who cannot tolerate crowded atmospheres.
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Sherborne Museum Postcode for SatNav: DT9 3BP