An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.
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12 CORFE MULLEN (9798)
The parish, covering just over 3,000 acres, is roughly triangular and stretches from the river Stour in the N. to an apex on Upton Heath 3½ m. to the S. The extreme N. part of the parish is occupied by the flood plain of the river. To the S. is a small area of rather broken country, on Reading Beds and London Clay, with isolated low hills rising to 275 ft. above O.D., cut into by small streams flowing N. to the Stour. Further S. this landscape gives way to a rather flatter area of heathland on Bagshot Beds.
The parish was formerly a chapelry of Sturminster Marshall and is of interest because it exhibits the typical settlement pattern associated with the Dorset heathland. The original village lay around the church on a flat dry river terrace in the N.W. corner of the parish. Later settlements were established to the S. and E. on the Reading Beds and London Clay, e.g. Knoll and Sleight, which were both in existence by 1327 (Fägersten, 111). Sleight formed the focus for a scatter of 18th and 19th-century farmhouses round about, and the foundation of Lockyer's School (Monument 3) in 1706 near by and not in Corfe Mullen village is indicative of the decline of the old nucleus and the growth of population to the S.E. at this time. The heathland in the E. and S. of the parish has been a source of brick-earth and pipe clay; it is now extensively occupied by haphazard modern housing development, especially at Newton and Hill View, with no building earlier than the early 19th century.
The parish boundary with Poole on the E. coincides largely with the Roman road from Hamworthy (Poole parish) to Badbury Rings (Shapwick). Roman finds near the road, including a pottery kiln and a cremation burial, both of the mid 1st century, may be connected with early military activity.
The Court House (Monument 2), a fragment of a larger house, is the principal monument, and two dwellings at Sleight (Monuments 7 and 8) are vernacular buildings of interest, Hart's Cottage of c. 1600 being of cob and with original timber joinery and therefore of considerable rarity.
b(1) The Parish Church of St. Hubert stands to the S.E. of the village. The older walls are of carstone and local limestone roughly squared and coursed, in part rendered, with dressings of the same materials. The roofs are covered with stone slates and tiles. The Chancel and Nave are of mid 13th-century origin and the West Tower was added early in the 14th century. The North Chapel of c. 1400, originally the N. porch, was altered to its present form in the 19th century. The South Transept, of brick, was added in 1841, the date on one of the roof bosses. The church was repaired or restored in 1850, 1865 and 1930, and the South Vestry and South Lobby are of the second half of the 19th century.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (20 ft. by 18 ft.) has a much restored and partly rebuilt mid 13th-century E. window of three graduated lancet lights; the rear arches are modern and spring from modern timber shafts. In the N. wall are two 13th-century windows each of a single trefoiled light with a label. In the opposite wall are two windows, that to the E. now blocked, similar to the foregoing but much restored and a 13th-century doorway, now opening into the vestry, with a two-centred head and continuous chamfered jambs. The only demarcation between chancel and nave is a step and a 19th-century chancel arch of timber plastered.
The Nave (44 ft. by 18 ft.) has in the N. wall two repaired 15th-century windows, each of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head, flanking a large rectangular opening, probably of 1865, to the N. chapel. The opening is spanned by a 19th-century timber arch. Rather more than the middle third of the S. wall has been removed to form the opening to the S. transept, but the flanking lengths of old walling each contain a 13th-century window of one trefoiled light; that to the E. is reset.
The North Chapel (10¼ ft. square) was originally the N. porch and of c. 1400 but has since been largely rebuilt. The original E. window of one light with a two-centred head and chamfered reveals has been repaired. The N. window is of the 19th-century though in the style of c. 1400.
The South Transept (18½ ft. by 30 ft.) is a building of 1841, though the E. and W. walls were refaced in brick later in the century. In the E. wall are two trefoiled single-light windows and, between them, a recess with a pointed head. Above the S. doorway is a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatre-foiled spandrel in a two-centred head. The window and recess in the W. wall are similar to those in the E. wall.
The West Tower (12¼ ft. square) is of three stepped stages divided by weathered strings and has a plain parapet. It is of the early 14th century. Inside, the old first floor has been destroyed in a modern subdivision of the storeys to provide a ringing-chamber. The two-centred tower arch is of two chamfered orders with pyramidal stops springing from responds with moulded impost-caps. The partly restored W. doorway has a two-centred head and continuous chamfered jambs. The early 16th-century W. window is of two cinque-foiled lights with blind tracery enclosing blank shields in a square head. Reset below the sill is a plain cross head. In the second stage are single rectangular loop lights in the N. and S. walls. The bell-chamber above is lit by a window in each of the four walls of the third stage, each of a single light under a blind tympanum in a depressed two-centred head.
The Roofs of the chancel and nave are of c. 1480, of plastered barrel form with moulded ribs with carved bosses at the intersections; in the chancel the carvings are all of stylised foliation with some interlace; in the nave they include a trinity of coneys, the Crown of Thorns and the Five Wounds, the crowned initials ER, a red rose, IHS and foliation, etc. The S. transept roof of 1841 matches the foregoing; the bosses are either carved or painted with the cross of St. George, the date 1841, a fleur-de-lys, a crest and an unidentified shield-of-arms, and an open book newly painted with the date of restoration, 1960.
Fittings—Bells: six; three by John Wallis, 1602–5, recast; three post 1850. Brass and Indent. Brass: in chancel, reset on N. wall, to Richard Birt, 1437, and Alice his wife, small figure of man in civil dress, long gown with full sleeves and high collar, broken inscription-plate. Indent: in nave, in Purbeck marble slab, of foregoing. Churchyard Cross: N.W. of church, square to octagonal and moulded base on two steps, 14th-century, with modern shafted cross. Communion Table: with turned legs and stretchers, plain top, late 17th-century. Font: octagonal Purbeck marble bowl with straight sides, trefoiled panels in each face, moulded underside, plain stem and moulded base, 15th-century. Galleries: In nave, across W. end, (1) organ gallery supported on cast-iron columns, front with canted ends, plain and fielded panels and moulded rails, mid 19th-century. In S. transept, across S. half, (2) front plainly panelled and with moulded upper and lower rails, mid 19th-century.
Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In churchyard—E. of chancel, of Thomas Pheilepps, 1668, inscription tablet reset in later table-tomb carved with achievement-of-arms of Phelips; S. of chancel, two late 18th-century table-tombs with fluted frames to inscription panels. Floor-slab: In S. porch, of Thomas, son of William and Elizabeth Doggett, date illegible. Plate: includes a buckle comprising a silver plaque embossed with a barbaric figure adoring a cross in the clouds, possibly from a peasant's girdle, late 18th-century, Maltese. Royal Arms: in nave, on N. wall, painted on panel, George III. Seating: in W. tower, bench with simply moulded seat and ends, dated 1664. Table: in W. tower, small, of oak, with moulded top, drawer, turned legs and plain stretchers, early 18th-century. Miscellaneous: In tower, stone gable-cross head, plain, mediaeval.
b(2) Court House (250 yds. N.) is of two storeys with attics (Plate 92). The walls are of carstone and local limestone ashlar in differing depths of courses; the roofs are covered with stone slates and tiles. The building is a fragment, perhaps a wing, of a larger house built in the latter part of the 16th century, probably by the Phelips family who had owned the property since earlier in the century. The bulk of the house was demolished in the middle of the 19th century. The part left standing was then made into a house by enclosing the N. end with a new wall with a small single-storey extension beyond, the insertion of some new windows and the installation of an old staircase.
The house is a short rectangle on plan, gabled to the N. and S. and with end chimneystacks. The E. side has a moulded string at first-floor level returned from the S. and W. faces of the house but stopping about a quarter of the way along; the wall further N. has patching and the last 6 ft., to the full height, is rebuilt. Below the string is an ovolo-moulded stone-mullioned and transomed window of four lights and above, on the first floor, a three-sided oriel window on original chamfered stone corbelling but for the rest largely reconstructed. The other transomed window on the ground floor, of two lights, is old but reset, the doorway is an insertion and the two two-light windows above are of the mid 19th century. The W. side has some walling in alternate bands of brown and grey stone and a string-course as described above; again, the N. 6 ft. is rebuilt. On the ground floor are transomed windows similar to those to the E. and on the first floor are two three-light windows, also ovolo-moulded, under moulded labels. The N. end wall, including the stack with diagonal shafts, is a building or rebuilding of the mid 19th century. The S. end has the first-floor string continued round the projecting stack. This last, which is of stone as high as the line of the eaves and rebuilt in brick above, has 19th-century or modern buttressing. The gable has a plain coping. The windows flanking the stack are of one and two lights with labels.
Inside, the S. ground-floor room has an original plaster ceiling (Plate 92) divided into four by plastered intersecting beams with running vine scrolls on the soffits and a foliated pendant at the intersection. In each quarter is a geometrical pattern of moulded ribs with leaf and flower ornament in low relief and a central pendant. Round the wall-head is a deep frieze of scrolling briar. On the window soffits are geometrical arabesques. The fireplace has moulded stone jambs to a four-centred arch in a square head with sunk spandrels. The 17th-century staircase reset from elsewhere has turned balusters, a moulded handrail and square newels with turned finials. The S. room on the first floor has an original plaster ceiling with a geometrical pattern over all, of moulded ribs with bosses at some intersections and enclosing daisies, thistles, fig branches, stylised strawberry tendrils, and slipped Tudor roses under closed crowns. The soffit of the oriel window is enriched with a simple arabesque pattern and has a foliate frieze. The panelling in this room is of the 18th century, restored.
b(3) Lockyer's School (988977) was founded by Richard Lockyer in 1706. The Report of the Charity Commissioners (vol. 30 (1836), 79) says that the 'school-room was rebuilt about twelve years ago at a cost of £260', but the work seems to have consisted of enlargement and remodelling, to form a part of Corfe Mullen school now on the site, rather than rebuilding.
b(5) House, 20 yds. W. of (4), was built in the early 18th century and has lean-to additions at the back. The S. front is symmetrical, the doorway being flanked by single windows with cambered rubbed brick heads. The first floor is marked by a plat-band of two projecting brick courses; a similar band on the W. gable is at the level of the attic floor. Both gables have brick chimneys and parapets with plain brick copings and kneelers.
b(6) Mill House and Water Mill, 60 yds. W. of (4), are respectively of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The house front was originally symmetrical with a central doorway flanked by single casement windows with segmental-arched heads. The doorway and the W. window were opened out and three-sided projecting window bays added c. 1830. The Mill stands at a right angle to the house. Earlier masonry, including an arch with keystone inscribed AC 1714, remains in the lower part of the W. wall. The machinery has been removed.
b(7) House (984981), of one storey with attics, with timber-framed walls and thatched roofs, was built late in the 16th century. The framing of the N. gabled wall is exposed and largely complete, with some original wattle-and-daub panels surviving intact.
The ground-floor plan comprised two rooms divided by a studded partition. Only the larger room, the hall, had a fireplace. This arrangement survives together with an original doorway in the middle of the W. wall of the hall and another in the partition, both now blocked. The position of the original principal entrance is not certain; presumably it was beside the chimney-stack, in the position of the present entrance (cf. Monument 13). Early in the 17th century a timber-framed addition was made on the S. to provide a third room, and then or later in the same century the E. front of the house was heightened in timber-framing to two storeys; the heightening was removed c. 1950. In the 18th century a W. wing was added and the S. gabled wall refaced in brick; at the same time the wattle-and-daub panels were largely replaced by brick.
b(8) Hart's Cottage, house (984983), of one storey and attics, has cob walls and thatched roofs (Plate 93). It was built late in the 16th or early in the 17th century and remains remarkably intact. An open pentice has been added on the N., the W. end refaced in brick and a store added on the E., all in the early to mid 19th century. Alterations inside are described below. Exceptionally in Dorset, the original timber door and window-frames survive unaltered in the N. wall.
The plan comprises a through passage slightly W. of centre with the main room, the hall, to the E. and smaller, service, rooms to the W.; the original partitions survive, in part retaining their wattle-and-daub panels, except between the service rooms where the head-beam and sill alone remain. The N. doorway to the passage retains the original timber frame with a cambered head and continuous chamfered jambs; the doorway to the hall is similar, but the doorways to the service rooms have been destroyed though the housings for the destroyed heads show above the modern doorways. In the hall, the N. window is original, consisting of two lights with a chamfered timber frame and mullion and a vertical iron bar set diagonally in each light. Against the end wall is a large fireplace with a rough lintel, an oven on the N. and a copper on the S., all in early 19th-century brickwork. Originally the staircase was S. of the fireplace and lit by a small window, which survives though with a renewed frame; the present staircase was inserted in the 18th century. The hall has exposed chamfered ceiling beams without stops. The N. service room is lit by an original window similar to that already described; the S. service room was converted in the mid 19th century into a small parlour by the insertion of a fireplace.
Upstairs, the original division into two rooms has been preserved and changes are minor. The doorway with a cambered head in the partition is original. In the 17th century a ceiling supported by a chamfered joist with moulded stops was inserted in the E. room; similarly the ceiling in the W. room is inserted, probably under a collar beam, the principal rafters being exposed below.
b(10) Barn (988978) at the Violet Farm, of brick with tiled roofs, was built in the second half of the 18th century. It has stepped buttresses and a S. porch. The roof, half hipped at both ends, is of five bays, the trusses consisting of tie beams, principal rafters and two raking struts. The porch roof is hipped.
b(13) House, 'Joy Cottage' (998985), of one storey and attics and timber-framed, was built in the late 16th century (Plate 48). A timber-framed S.E. extension is of the 17th century and some later rebuilding is in brick. The original plan was very similar to that of Monument (7). On the N.E. an original entrance doorway with a chamfered four-centred head faces the side of the chimney-stack.
b(14) House (996986), E. of crossroads, with a thatched roof, is of the early to mid 18th century though possibly an earlier timber-framed building similar in plan to Monument (7) is incorporated in the present structure. Few details are earlier than the 19th century, the period of the additions on the N. The plan comprises a lobby entrance beside a central chimney-stack, with the hall and an unheated room to the W. and a third room with a fireplace in the gable wall to the E. The staircase, on the N. side of the stack, has been turned round so that entrance to it is now from the E.
b(15) House, 40 yds. W. of (14), of three storeys, with stucco-faced brick walls and low pitched roofs covered with modern green tiles, was built in the second quarter of the 19th century. The entrance doorway has a fanlight in a plain semicircular head and the double-hung sashes of the windows are in frames set almost flush with the wall-face. The eaves are boxed.
b(17) Apple Tree Cottage, 30 yds. E. of (16), with walls of cob and thatched roofs, was built in the early 19th century as a pair of cottages presenting a unified design with a central chimney-stack and a roof hipped at each end. The N. front too is exactly symmetrical with a doorway towards each end flanking a group of windows, two on the ground floor and two above.
b(18) Knoll Farm (979974) is a house superficially of c. 1700 extended and greatly altered in the 19th century, but the plan, originally of two rooms with a chimney-stack dividing them, suggests a rather earlier building and thus only refacing and refenestration, etc., in c. 1700. Inside, the exposed ceiling beams, roughly adzed, have slight chamfers with shaped stops.
b(19) House (975974), on the E. side of Knoll Lane, of cob and with a thatched roof, was built in the 18th century; the S. wall was refaced in brick in the 19th century. The plan comprises a range of three rooms, two of them divided one from another by a chimney-stack flanked by an entrance lobby.
b(21) Cottage, 20 yds. S.E. of (20), of one storey with attics, of cob and with a thatched roof, was built in the early 19th century. The plan comprises a living room and scullery, entrance being directly into the former.