The 'most beautiful town in England' on Somerset's doorstep with two castles and a famous school

A market town near Somerset has been named one of the "best places to live in 2024". Sherborne, located in northwest Dorset, is brimming with history, from its stunning honey-coloured buildings to the magnificent Abbey at its heart.

The town was named the "best place to live" in the South West by the Sunday Times thanks to its rich culture. Sherborne was first named scir burne by its Saxon inhabitants, a name meaning "clear stream", after a brook that runs through the centre of the town.

As reported by the Express, Visit Dorset has called it "without doubt one of the most beautiful towns in England".

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The town is also mentioned in the Domesday Book. Since those times, many important buildings have been built in Sherborne, each with its own historical story.

One of these is Sherborne Castle and Gardens which Sir Walter Raleigh built it in 1594. Now, visitors can walk around the castle and gardens, following in the footsteps of Sir Walter Raleigh and royalty. The castle is surrounded by 42 acres of landscaped gardens and a 50-acre serpentine lake.

Sherborne also boasts another ruined castle, Sherborne Old Castle. This romantic 12th-century building, once a bishop's palace, was home to Sir Walter Ralegh. However, it fell in 1645 after an 11-day siege during the Civil War. Today, visitors can stroll through the castle grounds, filled with wildlife and colourful flowers.

If you're interested in learning more about Sherborne's history, visit the town's museum. It's located in the former gatehouse and almonry of the monastery linked to the Abbey. The exhibits share stories of Sherborne's bustling Medieval life and honour the many people who have lived here.

Cheap Street, Sherborne -Credit: Jonathan Hutchins
Cheap Street, Sherborne -Credit: Jonathan Hutchins

Sherborne is also famous for its educational institution, Sherborne School. Operating continuously since 1300, this ancient school was first founded in 705AD by St Aldhelm and later re-founded in 1550 by King Edward VI.

It's one of the oldest schools in the country and is now a public and boarding school for boys aged 13 to 18. There's also a similar school for girls, called Sherborne Girls School.

Sherborne is famous for its history and lovely shops, with The Sunday Times saying it has "high-class shops". There are a number of independent stores as well as big names like Quba, Crew Clothing, White Stuff, Joules, Face Fat and Mistral.

There is an auction in Sherborne every month where you can bid on old things like furniture and dishes. On Thursdays and Sundays, Cheap Street has a market called the Pannier Market. And every last Saturday of the month, there is a Vintage Market at Digby Memorial Church Hall.

Right Move says that homes in Sherborne cost about £358,972 on average last year. Right Move says: "The majority of sales in Sherborne during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £314,537. Detached properties sold for an average of £522,403, with semi-detached properties fetching £350,353."