Sherborne Abbey, Dorset (Keith Salvesen)

Sherborne Abbey – The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin – is one of England’s great churches, founded in AD705. The mellow stone beauty of the exterior and the outstanding fan vaulting (let alone its other glories) secure its primacy as a place of worship, of religious and architectural study, and of inspiration for the community it serves.

It also has a clearly incised benchmark, the bathetic subject-matter of this post as foretold in the title. It’s a strangely humble feature to focus on, but the attempted revival of this blog will include such mundanities. More interesting will be the medieval scratch dials (crude early sundials carved on church walls or doorways) that I am currently working on.

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset benchmark 1 (Keith Salvesen)

Sherborne Abbey, Dorset benchmark 2 (Keith Salvesen) Sherborne Abbey, Dorset benchmark 3 (Keith Salvesen)

All photographs © Keith Salvesen


  1. That mark on the wall looks a bit like an Ordnance Survey mark??
    I havent been in Sherborne Abbey for many years but I remember the military flags hanging in one part, they were tattered and somehow this seemed very poignant.


  2. I think strictly these are ‘Ordnance Survey Benchmarks’ (oddly the OS site uses both Benchmark and Bench Mark – sometimes in the same para, I note). These are just one variety of survey marks, which come in different orders. There are brackets as well; also studs, of which there are some on the perimeter of Maiden Castle. The flags are still there in apparently much the seem condition. The Abbey is quite special for us – we were married there.

    Liked by 1 person

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