An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire, Volume 1, South. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1912.
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(1). Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, S.W. of the village, is built of stone rubble, with stone dressings; the roofs are tiled. The present church originally consisted of an aisleless Nave and Chancel, built in the 12th century; in the 13th century the South Porch was added, and a S.W. window inserted in the nave. The small South Aisle was built c. 1340. Late in the 15th century the upper part of the S. aisle and the S. and W. walls of the porch were re-built. The chancel was widened towards the S. in the 16th century. The West Bell-turret was added c. 1630. In 1904 the church was restored, and the N. wall of the nave partly re-built.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (16½ ft. by 15 ft.) has a 16th-century E. window of two uncusped lights with sunk spandrels in a square head. In the N. wall is a window of two square-headed lights, probably of the 16th century, with a modern sill. In the S. wall is a 16th-century window of one wide light, with chamfered and moulded external jambs; the head of the inner member is pointed, and the outer member is square. The chancel arch is modern, except the chamfered S. respond, part of the N. respond and the moulded bases, all of c. 1340. The Nave (46 ft. by 18½ ft. at E. end by 16½ ft. at W. end) has, in the N. wall, two modern windows, with parts of an old tie-beam from the roof used to form internal lintels. At the E. end of the S. wall is an arcade of two bays, of c. 1340; the octagonal column and the chamfered responds with moulded bases and capitals have been restored; the two-centred arches are double-chamfered on the N., and single-chamfered on the S. side: W. of the arcade is a 15th-century doorway, with moulded external jambs and arch, and a moulded label with large plain shield-stops; the segmental rear arch and the inner jamb on the E. side are chamfered: W. of the doorway is a 13th-century lancet window with a moulded external label. The W. window is of late 15th-century date, partly restored, and of two cinque-foiled lights under a square head with a moulded label. The South Aisle (17½ ft. by 7½ ft.) has a late 14th-century E. window, partly restored, of two trefoiled ogee lights, with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head; the external label is moulded, and has much worn stops. The S. wall is gabled, and has a late 15th-century window of two cinque-foiled lights with sunk spandrels in a square head; the external jambs are moulded and the label forms part of a moulded 15th-century string-course at the base of the gable. The South Porch has a 15th-century entrance archway, two-centred and of two chamfered orders, with semi-octagonal jambs having moulded capitals, much worn, and a moulded external label; in the E. wall of the porch, now the W. wall of the aisle, is a blocked 13th-century window, forming a recess; the wall has, visible in the aisle, a chamfered plinth, originally external. The West Bellturret is of timber, with weather-boarded sides and a pyramidal tiled roof. The E. side is supported from the floor of the nave by two large stop-chamfered posts with three semi-circular arches of wood below the tie-beam; the arches spring from small moulded corbels, and have moulded key-blocks; above the tie-beams are two similar arches.
Fittings—Bells: three and a sanctus, 2nd, by Robert Atton, 1626, 3rd, by Bartholomew Atton, 1604, sanctus undated; bell frame probably of c. 1630. Communion Table: two turned legs of the credence table, probably formerly part of a communion table, 17th-century. Communion Rails: with turned balusters supporting small semi-circular arches and a dentil-moulded rail, c. 1630. Door: in S. doorway, of studded oak battens, 15th-century, iron hinges, possibly 13th-century, re-used. Font and Font Cover: plain cylindrical bowl, 12th-century, octagonal base, 15th-century; cover, hexagonal, six brackets of scroll-work meeting at the top with short central shaft, turned knob and pendant, inlaid inscription, 'A gifte to butyfie the house of God Francis Harryson anno domnie 1631'. Panelling: dado round walls of chancel, with oblong enriched panels at the top, 17th-century, brought from Dorton House, top rail modern: enclosing W. bay of S. aisle, said to have been a pew, with carved rails and, on one side, small attached turned balusters, glazed panels at the top, 17th-century: at W. end of nave, between the posts supporting turret and the N. and S. walls, 17th-century. Piscina: in S. aisle, with trefoiled head and plain circular basin, partly cut away, c. 1340. Plate: includes small cup and cover paten of 1568, date engraved on paten 1569. Pulpit: two sides, moulded panels, 17th-century. Seat: at W. end of nave, plain back, possibly 16th-century. Stoup: on E. side of S. doorway, inside, with two-centred head and circular basin, 15th-century, imperfect.
(2). Dorton House, S.E. of the church, is a large building of two storeys with a basement and an attic, and forms three sides of a courtyard; the walls are of red brick with stone dressings; the roofs are tiled. It is dated 1626, but was considerably altered externally at the end of the 18th century, when a small addition was made at the back. The building has been recently restored, as far as possible, to its original condition.
The house, though frequently altered, contains much fine detail of 1626, and is an interesting example of Jacobean architecture of a late date. It contains many fine ceilings of Jacobean design, but the ceiling of the main staircase foreshadows the detail of a later style. The hall screen, the two staircases, and the panelling and mantelpiece of a room on the first floor are also worthy of note. The Boarstall Horn, which is preserved in the house, is of peculiar interest as a relic of mediæval land tenure.
The plan is of a modified E-shape, without a central wing; the N. and S. wings project towards the E., and the S. wing is continued towards the W.; there are square blocks of moderate size in the S.W. and N.W. angles of the forecourt. The central block has the Screens in the middle, with the 18th-century main entrance and portico on the E. front, and a garden entrance with a small 18th-century porch at the back; on the N. side of the screens is the Hall, and beyond it, in the N.W. corner of the house, is the Billiard Room; S. of the screens is a Morning Room, some domestic offices, and a corridor leading to the S. wing; on the W. side of the corridor is the Secondary Staircase. The Main Staircase is partly in the block in the N.W. angle of the forecourt and partly in the N. wing. The N. wing contains a Library, the Queen Elizabeth Room, and some smaller rooms. The S. wing formerly contained the domestic offices, but the original kitchen is now the Dining Room, and other changes have been made; at the S. end of the corridor, leading from the screens, is a vestibule with a garden entrance and a small original porch. The Kitchen and offices are in the S. wing. On the first floor, over the hall, is the Drawing Room, which extended originally further towards the N., but the N. end now forms two small rooms with a passage between them leading into an Ante-Room entered from the main staircase. S. of the drawing room the rooms are divided practically in the same way as on the ground floor. The whole of the N. wing is occupied by the Long Gallery. The S. wing is divided into a number of bed rooms, and there is a small staircase leading to the attic, which contains servants' bedrooms.
The Elevations are plain, the only detail being in the windows; the N. elevation and the elevations of the forecourt are symmetrically designed, but the S. and W. elevations are more irregular. The walls are of red brick with stone plinths and quoins; the stone stringcourses have been cut back to form plain flat fillets; the gables have stone coping, and, with the parapets and moulded cornices, are modern or very much restored. The original windows, on the ground and first floors, all have moulded stone mullions and transoms; the larger windows are each of four lights with a very wide mullion between each pair of lights; the windows of the attic are without transoms, and have small square-headed labels. The chimney stacks have square shafts, set diagonally, with plain moulded brick caps. Forecourt Elevations:—The main block and the two smaller blocks in the corners of the forecourt are carried somewhat higher than the wings. The main block has been much altered, and the only original windows are those of the basement. In the wings some of the windows are original, but have been blocked, others retain the original heads and jambs, and the rest have been entirely altered, probably in the 18th century; both the wings are gabled at the E. end. The N. Elevation, which is the principal garden front, has been less altered than any other part of the house; near the ends the wall projects 4½ in., and in each projection is a bay window; in the middle of the wall is a third bay window, and all three are carried up to the roof. The two doorways, opening on to the N. terrace, were inserted at a later date. The S. Elevation has six gables, two being partly covered by large chimney stacks; the windows are all of the original design, but many of them are restored or modern. The doorway of the vestibule at the end of the passage from the screens is of stone, with moulded jambs and a four-centred head with sunk spandrels; it opens into a porch which has three entrances, that on the W. being similar to the inner doorway; the other two have three-centred heads, carved spandrels, and crude capitals at the springing line; the soffits are ornamented with arabesques, and the workmanship is coarse. The W. Elevation is of irregular design; there are three gables, one covered by a large chimney stack, and the W. end of the S. wing is also gabled; most of the windows are original, but have been altered. The doorway opening into the screens has a small 18th-century porch, and in the angle formed by the S. wing and the main block is a small 18th-century addition of two storeys.
Interior:—The S. wall of the Screens is covered with original panelling; the N. wall is formed by the panelled back of the hall screen. The opening to the corridor has a semi-circular arch of stone, with a panelled and enriched soffit. In the Hall is a screen of two bays, and in each bay is a doorway with a semi-circular head and spandrels ornamented with arabesques, flanked by Ionic pilasters on pedestals, which carry a complete Ionic entablature, with elaborate cresting above it; the doors have square and triangular moulded panels; the dado on the walls of the hall is of plain original panelling; the large fireplace has moulded jambs and four-centred head, and above it is an elaborate cartouche of strap-work in plaster with a shield bearing the following arms (the tinctures are modern and doubtful): quarterly (1) azure a cheveron between three griffons' heads razed or; (2) argent a cheveron between three manches sable with a crescent or on the cheveron; (3) argent a fesse between two crescents gules in the chief and a bugle sable in the foot; (4) argent two bars gules in chief three molets sable (?) in centre chief the Ulster badge; in dexter fesse a scutcheon gules a lion argent and a chief or with three martlets sable therein (?) in sinister fesse a scutcheon quarterly (1) and (4) azure (or vert) two lions facing each other or; (2) and (3) sable eleven rings or between two flaunches argent. The doorway to the main staircase is of stone and of the same detail as the doorway from the screens to the corridor. The Billiard Room has a similar doorway and contains some fragments of panelling. At the end of the Corridor leading from the screens is an original doorway of stone with moulded jambs and four-centred head. The Secondary Staircase (see Plate, p. 269) is in a series of short flights without turns until close to the first floor; it has an enclosed string, a moulded handrail, and square rake-moulded balusters; the newels have urnshaped caps and are of the same profile as the balusters, but are larger. At the N. end of the hall containing the Main Staircase is an oak screen or arcade of two bays; the openings have curved spandrels carved with arabesques, forming arches; the column and half-columns have Ionic capitals, and form the first newels of the staircase, which is practically of dog-leg construction, and rises by three flights to the turn, beyond which is a very short flight; a fifth flight rises to the level of the long gallery; from the main landing a few steps lead up to the ante-room of the drawing room; the square, chamfered newels have urn-shaped finials, except two which are carried up to the ceiling, and have bracket-pieces forming arches; the handrail and closed string are moulded and the balusters turned; the soffit of the stairs, where exposed, has plaster panels, ornamented with strap-work and grotesque heads, and in one of the panels is the date 1626; the ceiling of the hall has strap and cartouche ornament in relief, and the walls have a plaster frieze with grotesque designs and foliage. The Queen Elizabeth Room is lined with small bolection-moulded panels and the walls are divided into bays by fluted Ionic pilasters on panelled pedestals; the cornice and frieze are set with brackets between which are small carved cartouches; all the panelling has been painted white. The Drawing Room has a coved ceiling of elaborate arabesque design, in which appears the badge of the Dormer family, an eye with rays issuing from it; the ceiling is original, except at the N. end. The room above the morning room has an original coved ceiling, divided into geometrical panels by moulded strips, and enriched with cartouches, grotesque heads, and pendentives; the fireplace has a moulded square head, and the mantelpiece, supported by square moulded baluster pilasters, has two arched and moulded niches, with an elaborately mitred square panel in the middle, and a small Ionic order under a heavy carved cornice and cresting; on the fire-back is a figure on horseback in relief, and the initials R. C.; the walls are lined with small square original panels; on the W. side, part of the room has been cut off to form a passage, but the partition is low and the original ceiling is undisturbed. The ceilings of the ante-room to the drawing room and of the main staircase are original, and in the latter are repeated the arms which appear over the fireplace in the hall. The Long Gallery has a plain plastered barrel ceiling, but is without ornament or detail of any kind. In the S. wing one bedroom has an original fireplace with a moulded four-centred head, and a bath-room is lined with original panelling, and has two small cupboards made up of old material, all painted. The staircase to the attic is of dog-leg construction, and has square newels, with obelisk finials, a plain handrail, and flat shaped balusters.
The stables surround a small courtyard, and are of two storeys, constructed of brick and stone; the roofs are tiled. They were built at about the same time as the house, but the external walls were faced or re-built with brick, c. 1800; only the stone walls facing the yard are original and have doorways with four-centred heads and windows with stone mullions. The N. range is pierced by an archway, and on the roof above it is a cupola of c. 1800. The gardener's cottage, N. of the house, is of two storeys, built against the garden wall, outside. It is of about the same date as the house, and is of brick; the roof is tiled. The plan is rectangular; the walls at the ends are gabled, and the remaining original windows are mullioned.
The Boarstall Horn and Chartulary. The horn was apparently the symbol of office as King's Forester in Bernwode Forest. The existing Horn (see Plate, p. 136) is undoubtedly mediæval, but is probably not of earlier date than the 15th century; it is a cow-horn, 22 in. long, black, with silver-gilt mountings, consisting of a plain mouthpiece, a band at the end, and another band about 7 in. higher up, with simple ornament; near the end a short slit across the horn was apparently intended to hold a strap. A badge, of brass, representing the horn slung on a shoulder-strap, is also preserved, with a signet ring, of latten, having the letters I.D. or I.V. cut on it, and, attached to rings, a number of small metal chapes ornamented with a cusped and foliated design, apparently originally fastened to the ends of straps, all of 15th-century workmanship. The Chartulary deals with the manors of Boarstall, Chickendon, Stanhill, Gatehampton, and others. It was compiled in 1444, and contains copies of charters from 1093 to 1444, with a continuation, by various hands, to 1499. There are 314 leaves of vellum, 13 in. long by 9 in. wide, with 42 lines to the full page; the initials are gessoed and illuminated, and there is a pictorial map of Boarstall. It is bound in wooden boards with old calf covers.
(3). Cottage, now two tenements, about ¼ mile N.E. of the church, on the E. side of the main road, is of one storey and an attic. The walls are of timber and brick; the roof is thatched. It was built apparently in the 17th century on a rectangular plan, facing S.; in the 18th century two small additions in brick were made at the back. The eastern half of the cottage has been much altered; the western half retains the original timber-framing. The roof is half-hipped, and there is a chimney stack at each end, the E. stack being of the 18th century. In the western room on the ground floor the fireplace retains the original chimney-corner seat.