When people look at the Abbey, they see different things. Some see the finest building in Dorset, with its glorious fan vaulting – of which Simon Jenkins says in his book England’s Thousand Best Churches, ‘I would pit Sherborne’s roof against any contemporary work of the Italian Renaissance.’ Others see a place renowned for its choir and its music and its bells – the heaviest peal of eight bells in the world. Some see thirteen centuries of history, ever since St Aldhelm, new bishop of the West Saxons, chose to build his cathedral here.
Tradition certainly runs like a stream through the Abbey. Two Saxon kings are buried here; for over 800 years the chanting of Benedictine monks filled the air. Thomas Wyatt, Tudor courtier and poet, has his grave here; Sir Walter Raleigh worshipped here. But it is a living tradition: the Abbey today is still the spiritual home of a large and vibrant Christian community. It remains above all a place of prayer and of worship.