Splendid Sherborne

The weather was set to be sunny and very warm as the BEWI set off to visit Sherborne Castle in Dorset.  They were welcomed at the gate by Maria Wingfield Digby to what is her family home, and has been owned by the Digby family since1617, when the diplomat Sir John Digby purchased the castle for £10,000.  It had been built on the site of a hunting lodge by Sir Walter Raleigh retaining much of his influence.  A tour conducted by guides who know every nook and cranny, every secret and every skeleton in every cupboard, was to reveal an amazing history and many treasures within.  There was so much to learn and see,  representing the family’s wide ranging tastes and decorating styles from great periods of four hundred years of history, including fine furniture and porcelain, numerous family portraits and relics from the civil war.  Everywhere there is evidence of the legacy of the great men and women who resided there including a founder of the Royal Society, Sir Kenelm Digby, and a resident ghost in the Blue Drawing room.  Further delights awaited outside where Capability Brown’s magnificent landscaped parkland spread as far as the eye could see, largely unaltered to this day with fine trees, herbaceous borders and a fifty acre lake.  One cannot visit Sherborne without noticing the many images and sculptures of ostriches, which is an emblem of the Digby family prominent on their coat of arms.  The ladies of BEWI were enthralled with this wonderful place, and many left vowing to visit again.