Sherborne Old Castle

herborne Old Castle was built by Roger, the Bishop of Salisbury, and Abbot of Sherborne. Robert needed a secure home and a small hill surrounded by a lake was chosen as a suitably defendable site. The layout of the castle is roughly rectangular and has four corner towers. The main entrance to the castle is via the gatehouse in the southwest corner.


Sherborne Old Castle Key Facts
CountyDorset (7 castles)
DirectionsSix miles to the east of Yeovil on the A30. Not to be confused with the newer Sherborne Castle nearby.
CategoriesStone / Norman Square Keep
OwnershipBaronial castle
RemainsSmall amount survives
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating
TimeRef Comments
Apart from the gatehouse and sections of the keep not too much above ground level survives but there is enough to get an idea of how impressive this castle would have been.



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YearMonthEvent
1120   Construction of Sherborne Castle
 Built by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury.[1] 
1139 Jun  Roger, Bishop of Salisbury is arrested
 King Stephen arrested Roger, the Bishop of Salisbury. Bishop Roger was a powerful landowner and had several castles. Stephen also arrested Alexander, the bishop of Lincoln and had him imprisoned. Stephen wanted to take control to bishop Roger's castles and the bishop was taken to his castle at Devizes where he was held captive outside the walls and starved until the castle surrendered. Roger's son was also captured and tortured until the castle finally fell to the King. Roger's castle at Sherborne was also captured by Stephen. The castles at Newark and Sleaford in Lincolnshire belonging to bishop Alexander were forced to surrender to the King using the same underhand tactics.

Episode: Civil War Stephen and Matilda  
1330   Sherborne Castle is given to the Earl of Salisbury
 Edward III gave the castle at Sherborne to the Earl of Salisbury. 
1355   Bishops of Salisbury regains Sherborne Castle
 Robert Wyvil, the Bishop of Salisbury regained control of the castle at Sherborne. 
Early Modern Period (1500-1800)
1645 Aug 15  Sherborne Castle taken by Fairfax
 After a two week siege the castle at Sherborne fell to the Parliamentarians.[2] 

Norman Square Keeps

White Tower, London

More about Norman square keeps

One of the most important types of building in the time of William the Conqueror and William Rufus were the Norman keeps. Although many were rebuilt in the following century there are many good examples still remaining. The White Tower in London (pictured left), Dover and Rochester in the south east, Newcastle, Appleby, Carlisle, Brough, Richmond in the north are all examples of this type of castle. Other examples include Portchester, Guilford, Goodrich, Norwich, Castle Rising, Hedingham and Colchester. The castles are all built from a roughly uniform plan. A massive square tower with a square turret at each of the corners that project slightly. Each of the main faces of the castle has a flat buttress running up the centre of the wall for extra strength. The only parts that have decoration are usually the main doorway at the entrance and the chapel. At the centre of the keep are large halls. Some keeps have a dividing wall down the middle. Access to different levels and sections of the castle are by passages and spiral staircases built into the thick walls.

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