The See of Sherborne was created in AD 705 when the great Diocese of Winchester was divided in two, and Aldhelm, Abbot of Malmesbury, was appointed as the first Bishop of the West Saxons. Aldhelm chose Sherborne as the site for his new Cathedral.
St Aldhelm and twenty-six succeeding Saxon Bishops were appointed Bishop of Sherborne. However, soon after the Norman Conquest the Bishop’s seat was moved to Old Sarum, and later Salisbury. Earlier, in 998, St Wulfsin threw out the community of secular canons who served the Cathedral, and invited monks of the Order of St Benedict to replace them.
Sherborne remained a Benedictine Abbey until 1539 when Abbot John Barnstaple and his sixteen fellow monks surrendered it to King Henry VIII.
From the Nave and splendid Stone Alter Screen
Once installed the Monks set about building a smaller church to be called All Hallows, attached to the west end of the Abbey. All Hallows was to be used by the townsfolk instead of the Abbey, whose access to which would become very resrtictive .
Needless to say the townsfolk were not happy with being denied access to the Abbey, access which they had enjoyed for several centuries. Tensions between the monks and the town came to a head in 1437 when the townsfolk decided they had had enough of having to go to the Abbot every time they wanted to use the abbey font for a baptisms and erected a font of their own in All Hallows. The Abbot was outraged and according to the contemporary chronicle sent a ‘stout butcher’ armed with a hammer into the smaller church to breakup the font.
This caused a riot, during which a burning arrow was shot into the east end of the Abbey, which at that time full of wooden scaffolding for the rebuilding of the roof. It took the Pope himself to settle the conflict – and the people had to pay for the repairs!