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Sherborne, Dorset

The Umbrellas of Sherborne

The Queen is following in my paw-steps, or at least the Corgis are. For, just ten days after I, Phileas Dogg, visited Sherborne in Dorset, she, Queen Elizabeth the Second, is there visiting. TODAY!

Jane wanted me to investigate Sherborne in the course of my research because, on a visit there 15 years ago, she thought it the ‘cutest, quaintest little rural hideaway’.

The buildings, she has often rhapsodised since, are very ancient and appear to be hewn from great slabs of toffee. Sherborne Abbey, founded in AD 705, is one of the great churches of England. Sherborne, Jane continues apace, has a fine and busy town centre, brimming with independent traders. And two castles. It was once the capital of ancient Wessex.

(I’ve used a bit of poetic license there – Jane doesn’t actually staccato out random facts like that. In fact, I’ve used a bit of poetic license and Wikipedia.)

Oh but initial investigations did not reveal Sherborne to be the most dog-friendly town in the world. Was it to posh to pooch?

The man at the Britannia said no canines allowed: try the Half Moon, opposite the Abbey. The Half Moon said nae, try the Plume of Feathers, next door. The Plume said yes – but it only had a couple of bedrooms and they were busy. Someone else reckoned that The Bakehouse B&B accepted canine guests, as the owners had a dog. But no human hand or canine paw was picking up the phone at The Bakehouse.

This was all very odd, especially from a town that boasts the wonderfully named Hound Street!

The delights of Sherborne were to be hidden from me forever – until Carol at The Crown Inn answered the phone.

‘We have never been asked if we take dogs before,’ Carol said.

‘But do you?’ Jane asked, persistent. She is learning some terrier instincts from me. Make your bark heard!

‘Well, I suppose we could,’ Carol said. ‘Is he well-behaved?’

‘Very,’ Jane replied.

And that was that. We were booked in with Carol and her husband Malcolm for the night at The Crown Inn – and at a bargain £40 for a double room. That’s £20pppn – amaze-bones value for money! Including a big breakfast and SAUSAGES for me.

I can report that, after my stay at The Crown Inn, Carol and Malcolm have made it their policy to always throw down the red carpet to canines. This is on account of my breeding and manners, so impeccable they could have been learnt at the school just one minute down the road. I have opened the door of The Crown Inn to all dogs – and should a canine visit, on my recommendation, he or she will be most grateful. For, while The Crown is neither boutique nor five star, gentrified nor gastronomic, it’s clean, super-friendly, and a two-minute stroll from the centre of Sherborne. What more do you require, hounds of Britain?

Things for dogs to do in Sherborne: take your owners for a walk (on the lead) in the 42-acre grounds of Sherborne Castle. Go to one of the antiques fairs in Digby Hall, where you will receive much fuss. Stroll through the ancient streets enjoying the medieval architecture (lifting your leg against it, in other barks.)

Humans can go to the Rajpoot Indian restarant but dogs aren’t allowed so I disapprove strongly of this course of action. However, Jane says that I must report that the Rajpoot is one of the finest curry houses she has ever visited and has a spectacular view of the Abbey, particularly attractive in the evening, when it’s floodlit.

I’m sure the Queen won’t go to the Rajpoot though. I have heard on the dog and bone that the Queen’s philosophy is: if somewhere’s not good enough for the corgis, it’s not good enough for her.

Royal Woof!

(NB: This post is entitled The Umbrellas of Sherborne because it rained all the time we were there.)

Phileas Fact Box, Sherborne:

  • The Crown Inn, Greenhill, Sherborne, Dorset,DT9 4EP. Tel: 01935 812930. Website: www.crowninn.biz. Prices start at £20 pppn; dogs stay free.
  • The Bakehouse does accept dogs, at a cost of £5 per night. Human prices are £49 for a single human and £69 for a double human. The Bakehouse, 1 Acreman Street, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 3NU. Tel: 01935 817969. Website: www.bakehouse.me.uk
  • Sherborne Castle, New Road, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5NR. Tel: 01935 812 072. Website: www.sherbornecastle.com
  • Rajpoot Indian restaurant, Half Moon Street, Sherborne, DT9 3LN. Tel: 01935 812455. Website: www.rajpootsherborne.co.uk