Sherborne Abbey, also known as the Abbey Church of St. Mary the Virgin, is a Church of England church in Sherborne, located in the beautiful English county of Dorset. The history of the Abbey, dates back to the year 705. Throughout its history, it has been a Saxon cathedral (705–1075), a Benedictine abbey church (998–1539), and since 1539, a parish church.
Today Sherborne Abbey, holds a variety of meanings for the community. To some it is the most spectacular historical building in Dorset, with its incredible fan vaulted ceiling, the earliest great fan-vaulting in England, referenced by Simon Jenkins in his book, England’s Thousand Best Churches, ‘I would pit Sherborne’s roof against any contemporary work of the Italian Renaissance.’ For others, it is a place of song, renowned for its choir, its music and its bells, with the heaviest peal of eight bells in the world. Music fills the abbey and the nearby picturesque countryside, bringing joy and hope to its people. And for those historians among us, the Abbey is a place of thirteen centuries of history, ever since St Aldhelm, new bishop of the West Saxons, chose to build his cathedral there. Two Saxon kings are buried there and for over 800 years the chanting of Benedictine monks filled the air. Thomas Wyatt, Tudor courtier and poet, was buried there and Sir Walter Raleigh worshipped there. The Abbey is the spiritual home for a large and vibrant Christian community, but first and foremost it is a place of prayer and worship and a space which brings the community together. ERCO were specified to bring 21st century illumination to thirteen centuries of history.