Sherborne’s claims to affection and renown include architecture, education and shopping. Buildings both majestic and vernacular and several fine schools recommend themselves, and then there are the shops. The variety, charm and usefulness of Sherborne’s shops are the reason why visitors flock to the town from afar, and are one of the main attractions to new and would-be residents.
It is the variety of shops which is delightful – from a violin repairer to made-to-measure corsetiere, from a host of celebrated antique shops and art galleries to the specialist sources of cheeses and bustling markets on Thursdays and Saturdays.
An additional benefit is the pedestrianisation of Cheap Street, which gives freedom from traffic at the busiest time of day. There is an active Chamber of Trade and Commerce in the town, and banners across the main street announce theatrical events, fund raising exercises, craft fairs, and the annual cavalcade and display of vintage cars and motorbikes. Sherborne School is the host to this event in August, and it also opens the Powell Theatre to the public for drama and film all year round.
Two halls – The Digby Hall and the Digby Memorial Hall – contain regular antique fairs and a huge variety of events for residents of Sherborne and the surrounding villages, not least of which is the Amateur Players, on stage every year since its formation in 1932. The annual Sherborne Castle Country Fair raises money for charity as well as providing a varied spectacle in magnificent surroundings, and a real ale beer festival has recently been staged annually by the Sherborne Castles’ Rotary Club.
In May 2000 the first Arts & Music Festival took place with great success, making the prospect of such an annual event an attractive one. Maybe last, but not least, is the day in October – a moveable feast known as Pack Monday Fair – when street traders change the face of the town by day and night, and the Council ensures that the town is spotlessly clean the next morning.
Some recent additions to the town are ‘The Rendezvous’ for young people and a new sports pavilion and practice hall for the Sherborne Town Band on the Terrace Playing Fields. A new swimming pool and a nature pond are planned for the future, as is the refurbishment as an arts centre of the imposing Georgian Sherborne House.
Sherborne is largely protected from traffic’s thunderous roar, as the A30 lies to the north of the town centre, and most east-west traffic nowadays uses the A303 seven miles to the north. Good roads skirt the town to south, east and west, and the Waterloo – Exeter main line station is a few minutes walk from the town centre.
Sherborne has become a town noted for the variety and vigour of its twinning activities. These started in 1982 when a Charter was signed with Granville in Normandy, a seaside town close to Mont St Michel which, appropriately enough, was founded by the English in the Middle Ages. The Granvillais have a special gift for hospitality, good cooking and fine old Calvados. There are annual visits both to and from Granville, and sporting links between the towns. School exchanges have involved thousands of children over the years.
Everyone living in Sherborne and the area is automatically a member of the twinning association – there is no subscription. All are welcome to join in the activities of the association
In 1991 a second twinning charter was signed, this time with the many-towered Tuscan town San Gimignano in Italy. Reciprocal visits are arranged and Sherborne has taken a choir to sing in the cathedral and cloister. Each year children come from San Gimignano to improve their English. Enquiries to John Snell (01935) 813171.
Sherborne & Chojna
Links with Poland have led to an informal twinning with Chojna, an ancient walled town 40km south of Szczecin on the Baltic and about the same distance from Berlin in Germany. Enquiries to Jeremy Barker (01935) 816764.
Although there are now participating towns from twenty seven different countries in the Douzelage the name Douzelage has been retained for the alliance which was created to promote friendship and commerce in 1991, and which received the Etoile d’Or du Jumelage in 1993 from the European Union. The organisation has now moved on in Sherborne and more details can be found on the Douzelage area of this site.
Sherborne was one of the earliest towns in the South West to record a silk mill (in 1740) anticipating Macclesfield’s silk industry by 15 years. Although Derby had a silk mill as early as 1702 - it is part of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site which extends from Derby to Matlock. The textile tradition of Sherborne is continuing with the international company CS-Intergals Ltd. The largest manufacturing employer in the town, it makes glass fibre fabric close to the old and original yarn mills where silk parachutes were made during the Second World War.
A second substantial manufacturing company is Wincanton Engineering, now based on the Coldharbour Business Park, and various small manufacturing units have been developed on four industrial parks as the seed beds for new industries in the town.