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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32 STOKE, EAST (8787)
East Stoke is a parish of some 4,700 acres lying W. of Wareham and divided into two by the river Frome. Away from the river, heathland on Bagshot Beds stretches N. and S.; to the S. a height of 100 ft. above O.D. is reached only on the summit of Highwood Heath, but to the N. the ground rises to a rather higher ridge reaching over 200 ft. in the extreme N.W. In the N.E. the parish extends over the ridge to the river Piddle.
Small settlements lie on the river terraces of the Frome and are now served by two roads running parallel to the river near the 50 ft. contours. East Stoke, Rushton and probably West Holme are recorded in Domesday Book; Woolbridge, Stockford and Binnegar were in existence by the 14th century, Hethfelton Farm and some old cottages in the Frome valley were probably new settlements of the 17th century. On the heathland, Hethfelton to the N.W. is recorded in Domesday Book as a small settlement, and to the S. some development around Highwood appears on the O.S. map of 1811, but none of the existing buildings is so early.
b(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, stands on the S. side of the Wareham-Wool road. The walls are of coursed squared limestone rubble with dressings of the same stone; the nave roof is covered with slates with crested ridge, and the chancel roof is tiled. The Nave and West Tower were built in 1828 when the old church (2) was pulled down, the architect being T. E. Owen of Portsmouth (D.C.C., 24 July 1828); in 1885 a new Chancel was built, the Organ Chamber added and the nave ceiling and a W. gallery were removed; the Vestry is modern (1911). The date 1828 is recorded on a stone tablet on the inner side of the W. wall of the tower, under the W. window.
Architectural Description—The Chancel has in the N. wall one window with reset splays and head of 1828 and later tracery. The Nave (50 ft. by 31 ft.) is symmetrically designed with single-stage buttresses diagonally at the corners and between the windows, but the S.E. buttress has been removed to make way for the organ chamber. The windows in the N. and S. walls and flanking the tower arch in the W. wall are all uniform, of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The West Tower (8 ft. by 7½ ft.) is of three storeys with a string-course at the level of the first floor on the W. elevation only and with three-stage diagonal buttresses and embattled parapet. The tower arch is segmental and of a single order. The W. doorway has a widely splayed two-centred head and continuous jambs. Over the doorway are two blank shields. Above the W. doorway is a window uniform with those in the nave and the belfry has in each wall a window of one trefoiled light.
Fittings (some from the old church (2))—Bells: two; 1st inscribed 'William Dobson of Downham Norfolk founded A.D. 1829'; 2nd inscribed 'William Lockier church warden Clemant Tosiear cast me in the year of 1698'. Bell-frame: of c. 1828, much restored. Coffin Stools: pair, with turned legs, 18th-century. Door: in W. doorway, two leaves divided into rectangular panels by moulded ribs, 1828. Font: bowl, hexagonal with straight tapered sides, 13th-century, restored, on modern stem with six free-standing shafts. Monuments: In nave—on E. wall, (1) to Sarah (Reynolds), wife of Thomas Witt of Woolbridge, 1814, and Thomas Witt, 1824, white marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet on grey marble backing surmounted by urn, signed Warren, Wareham; on S. wall, (2) to Leonora Sophia (Bond), wife of the Rev. William Buller, 1836, and another, white marble tablet flanked by canopied niches in the late Gothic style and with cresting above. Plate: includes cup of 1826 given by G. R. Robinson, M.P., 1829; paten of 1828; stand paten given by the Rev. Thos. Fox, brother of the incumbent, 1829; flagon, of silver plate, 1829. Scratchings: on ceiling beams below belfry, churchwardens' initials I.J. and R.R. dated 1829, also J.R.
b(2) Old Church of St. Mary stands on low-lying ground S. of the river Frome, ⅓ m. S.W. A fragment only remains of a mediaeval church which was demolished in 1828. The font in the new church suggests that there was a church here in the 13th century, but the surviving remains are of the 15th century and consist of parts of the S. wall of the nave and of the S. porch. The remaining foundations of the rest of the church confirm Hutchins' description of it as a small building comprising nave, chancel and tower (Hutchins I, 422).
In the remaining fragment of the S. wall is a 15th-century window with casement-moulded jambs, two-centred head and a label with defaced stops. The window was of three lights. The S. porch has in the E. wall a small quatrefoil window with sunk spandrels; the S. archway is two-centred with continuous moulded jambs carried down to a chamfered plinth. (The arches of the window and of the entrance to the porch fell between 1948 and 1963.)
Fittings—Inscription: on S.E. corner of porch, initials E.D., T.H., R.H. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: in churchyard, S.W. of porch, (1) to William Lockyer, 1699, headstone (see parish church (1), under Bells); (2) to Sturton Dawe, 1704; (3) to Richard Smith, 1698; (4) to Jane, wife of Alexander Lumber, 1711/12; 13 yds. E.S.E. of porch, (5) to Charles Batten, 1689. Floor-slab: in chancel, to Joseph Goodwin, 1772. Stoup: in porch above seat against E. wall, engaged semi-octagonal shaft with moulded cap and base and bowl at top, now broken; over it a recess in the wall with two-centred head. Sundial: on S.E. corner of porch, scratch dial.
b(3) Holme Bridge (890866), over the R. Frome, (Plate 33) has six arches spanning about 300 ft. The oldest part of the bridge is probably of the early 17th century and comprises three round arches of two orders, built of limestone and carstone, springing from plain piers with cutwaters upstream only. In July 1674 at the Quarter Sessions the bridge was presented as being in great decay, and it was probably soon afterwards that a fourth, segmental, stone arch was built to the N. In the 18th century a further arch, of brick, was built at the N. end, and in the 19th century a stone arch with brick spandrels was built at the S. end. None of the old parapets remains.
a(4) Woolbridge Manor (843872) is of two storeys with walls of brick and stone and roofs covered with tiles and stone slates (Plate 155). The property formerly belonged to Bindon Abbey and was granted to Sir Thomas Poynings after the Dissolution; later in the 16th century it came to the Turberville family (Hutchins I, 422) and appears in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles as the farm at Wellbridge to which Angel Clare took his bride. The main part of the house, facing N., was built in the early 17th century and was remodelled after the Civil War, c. 1660. Some original walling S. of the E. end indicates that there was originally a S.E. wing. A wing to the S.W. has the ground floor of c. 1660 and the upper floor of the 18th century.
The manor is of interest apart from its literary associations; the brickwork is some of the earliest in the district, and the front elevation, though now somewhat altered, shows considerable originality of design.
The N. front is of 17th-century red brick, diapered in black, with stone dressings and a moulded stone string over the ground-floor windows; in the middle is a two-storeyed porch of which the lower part of the N. elevation is rusticated, with a narrow niche each side of the entrance archway which has a segmental head with a decorated keystone springing from moulded stone imposts. Above the entrance is a circular stone recess in which is reset part of a stone with the date 1635 and initials I S. To each side of the porch the ground storey now has one window of three transomed lights under a label and, close to the porch, a circular window; originally each large window was flanked by two narrower ones which are now blocked; the circular windows are later insertions. Similar groups of three windows on the first floor have narrow niches in the piers between the openings, but the outer, narrower openings are again blocked; the window to the upper part of the porch is also flanked by narrow niches.
The other walls are mainly of stone, but the upper part of the S. wall is carried up into two gables, mainly of brick, decorated with tall narrow niches and surmounted by chimneys with two tiers of arched recesses in each side. The upper part of the S.W. wing is of 18th-century brick. Most of the windows have stone mullions and transoms. The interior has been rearranged; the E. room has an open fireplace with a chamfered stone bressummer and an iron crane; the W. room has a 17th-century moulded stone fireplace, reset. In the S.W. wing, the ground-floor ceiling has moulded plaster roundels and a central pendant within a ring of fruit; the first-floor landing has the heads and shoulders of two female figures painted on the plaster (cf. Tess of the d'Urbervilles).
Outbuildings: Barn, to N.E., of the 16th century, has stone walls partly rebuilt in brick and thatched roof; the main walls have low two-stage buttresses and the roof (Plate 53) is carried on jointed crucks with arched-braced collar beams. In an addition to the E. is reset a cinque-foiled circular stone window of mediaeval origin. Barn, to N., with walls of brick on a stone base and tiled roof, is of the 18th century. Barn, W. of last, with walls of brick on a stone base and thatched roof, is of the 17th century; it has six bays with a porch and another entrance opposite. Pigeon House, to N.W., of brick with quoins plastered to simulate stone dressings and with a tiled roof, is of c. 1700.
b(7) West Holme Lodge (886858), with walls of brick partly rendered and with roofs covered with tiles and stone slates, was built in the second quarter of the 18th century (Plate 43). The E. end room retains an original fireplace surround with carved enrichment, but the rest of the house has been largely refitted.
b(8) West Holme Manor (883858), with walls of squared stone and roofs covered with modern slates, was built in the 17th century on a three-room plan, lengthened in the 18th century and considerably enlarged later.
b(13) East Stoke Mill (871868), with brick walls and tiled roof, was built c. 1820, but the channel for the undershot waterwheel is built in ashlar of an earlier date; at the N. end is a circular building, perhaps used as a corn-drying kiln. The waterwheel and machinery have been dismantled. (Demolished)
b(14) Hethfelton Farm, house (857873), has brick walls partly rendered and partly tile-hung and a tiled roof with stone slates at the verges; it was built in the late 17th century; a wing was added in the 18th century and lengthened in modern times. The house has been much altered.