By Blue Badge Tour Guide - Anne Bartlett
Today I'm going to recommend an easy, interesting family walk in the Cotswold countryside.
The walk is around the National Trust land at Sherborne Park just off the A40 between Northleach and Burford. This is an easy 21/2 mile walk which should take around an hour and a half to complete. There are lots of things to discover on the way, such as wildlife sculptures, the village church, an ice house, stone quarry and many more. Parking is available at the Ewepens car park. There is no access to the magnificent Sherborne House which is private property but it can be seen through the trees during the walk.
A very good guide about the walk can be downloaded from the internet. It’s a pdf file from the National Trust and is titled Sherborne Family Fun Walk. I find it very useful to take with me, particularly if there are children in the group, to help them find the 15 points of interest along the way.
The history of Sherborne is interesting. During the Middle Ages the Sherborne Estate was part of a huge area owned by Winchcombe Abbey. The monks kept large flocks of sheep which grazed on the pastures all round the Cotswolds. At shearing time the sheep were rounded up and brought to Sherborne where there was a fast flowing brook for washing them before shearing. You can see the brook and its waterfall during the walk. Merchants came from Flanders and Italy to buy the fleeces and paid the Abbey large sums of money, making it very wealthy.
Winchcombe Abbey was dissolved in 1539 and a Thomas Dutton bought the estate and built himself a stately home. The house you see today is the second house on the site, the first one was carefully dismantled, the stones numbered and stored for re using in the second building in 1830.
The Duttons and their descendants lived at Sherborne for about 400 years. Probably the most interesting member of the family was a Sir John Dutton known as Crump Dutton who was one of the richest men in England. He was a passionate gambler, and built 17th century Lodge Park nearby, as a grandstand to entertain friends and gamble on the deer coursing that took place there. History books say that on one of his all night gambling sessions he rashly staked Sherborne Estate, but when his servant heard spectators saying “Sherborne’s up” he rushed in and removed his master bodily from the table and took him home.
Despite all the gambling and high living the Dutton family managed to hold on to Sherborne House until the second world war when it was taken over by the army and the Duttons moved into Lodge Park and made it their home.
Sherborne later became a school before being sold and in the 1980’s it was converted to private apartments. In 1983 Charles Dutton the 7th Lord Sherborne died without any heirs and the land was gifted to the National Trust. It’s through this gift that we are able to enjoy this lovely countryside.