Sherborne’s markets and fairs drew in farmers and artisans from the wider agricultural district. The burgeoning industries of gloving and silk throwing, meanwhile, relied heavily on outworkers from the surrounding villages. The town’s favourable position on two main coaching routes (linking the area with London, Exeter, Bristol and Weymouth) encouraged further expansion and, from the 1860s, this was accelerated by the arrival of the railway. By the outbreak of the First World War, Sherborne boasted a large silk mill, two glove factories, two breweries, two dairies, a gasworks and a steam laundry.
Although major industry has since declined, Sherborne is famous for its schools and education and prides itself on its independent shops, galleries and artisan crafts. The town’s architectural beauty and aura of spirituality has made it attractive to artists and writers, including Sir Thomas Wyat, Charles Dickens and the Powys family. Sherborne features in the writings of Thomas Hardy as “Sherton Abbas.” His novel The Woodlanders focused on its wider historic landscape with its orchards, coppicing and cider-making. As well as providing inspiration for authors, Sherborne has been used for numerous film location settings including Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969), The Imitation Game (2014), Far from the Madding Crowd (2015), and Wolf Hall (2015).