Abbey House, Abbey Road, c.1890.

Abbey House has been in use as a school boarding house from 1835 to 1847 and continuously since 1868.

This area lay within the Precinct of Sherborne Abbey, which had been founded as a Benedictine institution in 998, hence the house’s modern name.

Abbey House is the combination of two separate properties.  On the east, the private side of the house was built in the first half of the 19th century by Mr Simmonds, a well-to-do confectioner whose business premises were in Cheap Street.  The property passed into the hands of the Digby family, from whom the School Governors rented it between 1835 and 1849 to accommodate Thomas James the usher and a few boarders.  This part of the house served the school once again in 1860-1861 when the Headmaster H.D. Harper and his family lived there during the building of the present School House.

The adjoining building to the west was, until 1861, the National School, also known as the Abbey School for the Poor.  In 1868, the two properties were combined and enlarged by pulling down the coach house and stables and building new studies and dormitories, and it was reopened as a school boarding house.  Additions to the building have included in 1887 an addition to the west wing (by architects Carpenter & Ingelow), the Reading Room in 1935, and the studies in 1958 (on part of Abbey Grange garden given by Geoffrey O’Hanlon).  In 1931, the premises were purchased by the School Governors.  On the night of 7/8 July 1962, a fire swept through the western end of the building destroying a 50ft stretch of the roof and a second-floor dormitory.  In 1996, a new west wing was opened by Michael McCrum, a former Abbey House boy and late Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.  The whole premises have belonged to the School since 1931.

Former pupils of Sherborne School who have boarded at Abbey House include Tom Bradby, J.B.W. Buchanan, N.M. Campbell, P.L. Candler, Jack Grayburn VC, Jeremy Irons, David Leakey, Michael McCrum, Robert McCrum, Littleton Alfred Powys, Littleton Charles Powys, Henry Raby VC, T.A. Rees, D.F. Smith, David Spedding, Harold Temperley, W.E. Tucker, Peter Twiss, L. Watkins.

House letter: b.

House colours: purple and black (formerly blue and white).

1835-1847 Rev. Thomas James (1794-1866)
1868     Arthur Mapletoft Curteis (1834-1922)
1876     Rev. Alexander Wood (c.1839-1917)
1888     Charles Selby Whitehead (OS) (1852-1934)
1893     William Beauchamp Wildman (1852-1922)
1908     Godfrey Mohun Carey (OS) (1872-1927)
1928     Percival Edward Holland Parry-Jones (OS ) (1892-1942)
1942     Max Edward Kenneth Westlake (OS) (1895-1987)
1955     Michael Moore Walford (1915-2002)
1971     Christopher Anthony John Knott (OS)
1986    Peter M.H. Wellby
1998    W. James Murphy-O’Connor
2005   Mark A. Pryor
2009   Ben A. Ryder
2011    Michael McGinty
2019    Hugh F. Tatham

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For further information about the Sherborne School Archives please contact the School Archivist.

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