Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Sherborne Abbey

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Located in Dorsetshire, England; founded in 998. Sherborne (scir-burne, clear brook) was originally the episcopal seat of the Bishop of Western Wessex, having been established as such by St. Aldhelm (705). The Benedictine Rule was introduced by Bishop Wulfsy III, who also governed the monastery as abbot, the monks forming his chapter. The office of abbot was, however, separated from that of bishop by Roger of Caen (1122), when the see was removed to Sarum, and the abbey church ceased to hold cathedral rank. The original Saxon Church of St. Aldhelm having become too small, Bishop Roger replaced it by a larger Norman one, and this was subsequently so rebuilt and altered, that it is now almost entirely perpendicular in style. A Lady-chapel was added in the thirteenth century, and later on a great restoration was commenced by Abbot John Brunyng (1415-1436), and continued by his successor William Bradford. A parish church had previously been erected at the west end of the abbey nave, but there were continual quarrels between the parishioners and the monks, because this Church of All-Hallows had not the proper status of a parish church, and remained the property of the monastery. Their differences led to serious disturbances which were eventually settled through the intervention of the bishop. A great fire occurred in 1437, said to have been caused by a parishioner, and this may perhaps have necessitated more rebuilding than had been originally contemplated. At the dissolution of the monastery (1536) the abbey and its lands were bought by Sir John Horsey, Knight, from whom the parishioners purchased the abbey church for the sum of £300, and since two churches were not now needed, that of All-Hallows, about which there had been so much contention, was forth with demolished. The conventual buildings, chiefly of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, were handed over to the school, which had existed there since 705, and which in 1550 was refounded, receiving a new charter from Edward VI. These buildings have been added to from time to time, and Sherborne School now ranks amongst the leading public schools of England. The abbey church remains the parish church of the town, having been judiciously restored in recent years. Though Norman in plan, its perpendicular work is unusually fine, and the fan-vaulting of the choir absolutely unrivaled.

TANNER, Notitia Monastica (London, 1794); DUGDALE, Monasticon Anglicanum (London, 1817-30); WILDMAN, Short History of Sherborne (Sherborne, 1902).

G. CYPRIAN ALSTON