What’s going for it? Sherborne may be small, but what it lacks in girth it makes up for in history. This place is spilling over with stories. Back in 800 or so it was A Big Deal, a megalopolis of Saxon Wessex, with a cathedral and everything (in 1075 the cathedral was demoted to an abbey – still there, still luscious). This was the front line in the unification of England, holding back the invading Danes from the east. Alfred the Great’s brothers are buried in the Abbey. And we haven’t even got to the second millennium yet. (Don’t get me going on Sir Walter Raleigh’s two castles. One is never enough, I find.) These days Sherborne’s a quieter affair, up at the top of Dorset, a little off the beaten track now that the A303 to the north saps the traffic from the A30. It’s quite content, though, a prosperous place where Fired Earth does a roaring trade. It has its past for company, materialised in its glorious, ochre architecture. When old age looks this good, who’s want youth?
The case against… A little dull. A little perfect. One can have enough shops selling beige country casuals.
Well connected? Trains: hourly to Exeter (1hr 11mins) via Yeovil (7 mins), and to Gillingham (15 mins) and Salisbury (45 mins). Driving: the A303 is 10 minutes to the north; 15 mins to Yeovil, 50 mins to the M5, just under an hour to the coast.
Schools Primaries: Sherborne and Sherborne Abbey CofE are both “good”, says Ofsted. Secondaries: The Gryphon is “good”. There’s also the independent Sherborne School (where Alfred the Great is rumoured to have learned his times tables) and Sherborne Girls.
Hang out at… Nice old (of course) pubs such as The George or the Digby Tap. Oliver’s for coffee (or Horlicks!). The Plume of Feathers for bites and cocktails.
Where to buy An endless parade of perfect homes, from 15th-century via loads of Georgians. The centre is a delight. Wander in awe from Long Street and Newland to the Abbey. A nice line in 18th-century cottages. Good Victorians on King’s Road or The Avenue. Poshest suburbans around Bradford Road. Large detacheds and townhouses, £600,000-£1.5m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £315,000-£600,000. Semis, £175,000-£375,000. Terraces and cottages, £160,000-£400,000. Flats, £100,000-£300,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £450-£550pcm; a three-bedroom house, £700-£850pcm.
Bargain of the week Three-bedroom semi, needs refurbishment, £160,000, with connells.co.uk.
From the streets
Dave Oxford ‘New independent brewery, BrewedBoy; Sherborne Indies, shops fighting to keep our town vibrant;and gallery, cinema and cafe, the Paddock Project, due to open in 2021.’
Chris Bird ‘Black Shed Flowers is a brilliant family-run flower farm.’
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