Restoration planned after 30 years

Grade I Georgian building
Grade I Georgian building

Sherborne House Trust 2018 has submitted a planning application to restore the magnificent Grade I Georgian building to its former glory after months of hard work. The house has been largely empty since the closure of the Lord Digby’s School for Girls in 1992, with a huge amount of restoration work to be done before it can open its doors to the public. There has been no realistic prospect of refurbishment until now.

The Trust is seeking to transform the building into an events and art exhibition venue. Featuring a café and restaurant, the building is also set to include flexible office space, artists’ studios and artisan workshops, whilst a contemporary multifunction rear extension has also been proposed. Not only will the Trust’s restoration provide the town with a fantastic facility, but it will also secure the long- term financial viability of the house.

Since November 2018, the Trust has been liaising with Historic England and Dorset Council to secure their support for the proposals. It has also been engaging with prospective business partners on the hospitality and events side and it is hoped Dorset Visual Arts, the organiser of Dorset Arts Weeks, will have its home there.

The Trust has put together an experienced professional team, including Dorset based SPASE Design (architects) and Forum Heritage Services (heritage impact assessment), Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants (historic building survey) and accredited conservation engineers, Mann Williams and QODA, to ensure the restoration is carried out sympathetically.

Chris Mitchell from the Sherborne House Trust 2018 said: “We believe this application reflects the works required to bring Sherborne House back to long term, secure and viable use. It represents the best possible opportunity to bring the heritage asset off the Buildings at Risk register. We’re extremely excited and once the extensive restoration has been completed, we hope this magnificent building will be an integral part of the town again.”

Friends of Sherborne House spokesman Jeremy Barker said: “The trust’s plan to transform this magnificent building is a triumph for the local community; the Friends have been campaigning for nearly 30 years for the restoration of Sherborne House and we look forward to giving the project our full support.” Jem Main, creative director for Dorset Visual Arts, said: “We’re excited by the opportunity to develop a high quality and wide-ranging arts programme at Sherborne House. We look forward to being involved in the trust’s ambitious plans to restore and expand the potential of this special building and its grounds.”

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