A brief history of Sherborne

We are proud of our heritage at Sherborne. It tells us where we’ve come from, and provides a firm foundation on which to build for the future.

Many of the buildings on our campus date back as far as the 12th century, giving a tangible sense of history to our surroundings.

Despite this, the school only took on its current form as a boys’ boarding school in the 19th century. This was thanks to the vision of the Reverend Hugo Daniel Harper, who was headmaster from 1850 to 1877.

In the years prior to this, Sherborne provided education for a handful of pupils. It was founded in the mid-16th century under the auspices of the monastery at Sherborne, and survived the Reformation to become established as a Free Grammar School during the 17th and 18th centuries.

By the time Harper took control, dwindling student numbers and a dispirited staff meant that Sherborne was in need of transformation. That is exactly what the visionary new Headmaster achieved, with the help of the new railway to bring pupils from across the country. In consequence, Sherborne became one of the country’s leading boarding schools – beginning a legacy that continues to this day.

We owe our identity to the vision of our forbears, without whom Sherborne would never have come into existence. That is why we remain committed to providing a full-boarding environment in which boys can be shaped in community with each other. It is part of our heritage, and ensures we go on forming men of distinction, ready to take their place in the world.

View the School Archives




Portrait of Edward VI, after Hans Eworth (c.1547)

Further information on the history of the School and its historic collections can be sought from the School Archivist, Rachel Hassall.