Walter Raleigh’s former home was built in 1594 and replaced an older 12th-century castle that’s still on the site today. The Wingfield-Digby family have lived there since 1856.
There’s been a castle at Sherborne since the 12th century. The ‘Old Castle’ was built by Roger, Bishop of Salisbury, and then the estate was leased to Sir Walter Raleigh, who built a new house there in 1594. In 1617 it was sold to Sir John Digby, 1st Earl of Bristol, and he added more wings to Raleigh’s building. However, in 1645, the castle came under siege during the civil war and it was left in ruins. Raleigh’s house was still intact and became known as Sherborne New Castle. The grounds around it were laid out by the 5th Lord Digby and his heirs. Capability Brown was employed to design a lake there in 1753 - one of his first commissions - and he also designed the rest of the gardens in 1778, where he managed to incorporate the old ruined castle into the landscape. In 1856 the new castle passed to George Wingfield-Digby, whose descendant, Maria Wingfield-Digby, still lives at the house.
On a walk round the lake you’ll find lots of different plants depending on the time of year; perhaps magnolias, daffodils and acers in spring, weeping lime trees in July, Japanese maples in autumn… If it’s raining you can look at the Capability Brown exhibition in the castle cellars, or explore the house which is filled with artefacts. There’s a Tudor kitchen and relics from the Civil War, plus displays of artefacts that were found in the old castle.
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