Meet Digbert the Ostrich
Digbert the ostrich has arrived in Sherborne.
Digbert comes with exceptional credentials. His lineage can be traced back to the most noble of ostrich ancestors and it is said that his sudden appearance in Sherborne is linked to his investigation into a possible family connection with the Digby ostrich, resident in Sherborne for nearly 400 years, and indeed this might explain the first part of his name.
More mysteriously, the latter part of Digbert’s name is said to be tied to one of Sherborne’s royal connections, that of King Ethelbert, King of Wessex from 860AD to 865AD, entombed in Sherborne Abbey. Brother to King Alfred, it is well known that there was a family inclination to burning cakes, a well-known ostrich delicacy at the time.
Sherborne has had a close connection with ostriches for nearly 400 years, ever since the Digby family moved into town in 1617 and took up residence at the local castle, previously occupied and remodelled by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Sightings of ostriches soon began to appear, first at the castle and then in the town.
As the family began to enlarge the castle, the impressive bird took up prime position over the entrance. At first, it did not wander far but by the 19th century it was roosting amongst the roof-tops of the town.
Today, it is not quite known how many ostriches can be seen in the Sherborne area – the main habitat is at Sherborne Castle but it is sometimes seen at Minterne House, from the garden, and who knows how many are in the town itself.
The connection between the Digby family and the ostrich was first recorded in 1350 but probably goes back much further than this. It is said that in the Roman wars in northern Africa in 100BC, local warriors rode on ostriches and outflanked the Roman cavalry. Indeed, the Digby ostrich carries a horseshoe in its mouth.
When you visit Sherborne, be on the alert. See how many ostriches you can see.