An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.
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24 HOLWELL (7011)
The parish of Holwell covers some 2,400 acres at an altitude of 200 ft. to 300 ft. above sea-level; until 1844 it was a detached part of Somerset. The undulating land, almost entirely Oxford Clay, is drained by small streams flowing N. to the Caundle Brook, which constitutes the N. and W. boundaries of the parish. As the accompanying plan shows, the nucleus of the village stands near the centre of the N. boundary and the open fields (19) lay around it to E., S. and W. Secondary settlements such as Buckshaw, the Manor House, Westrow, Pleck and Woodbridge, each with its enclosures, were established beyond the perimeter of the open fields at unknown dates. The S. quarter of the parish, beyond Holwell Drove and Pleck, was enclosed in 1797; since then, 19th-century and later dwellings have been built along the edges of this area.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Laurence (Plate 4) stands in a hollow, 50 yds. S. of the Caundle Brook. It is built of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings of the same material, probably from the Marnhull quarries. The Chancel was rebuilt in 1770 and again in 1885, when the organ chamber was added, but the Nave, North Aisle, South Chapel, West Tower and South Porch are uniformly of the late 15th century. The jointing of the masonry shows that the tower was built before the nave, but it can be only a few years older.
Architectural Description—The 19th-century chancel (25 ft. by 17 ft.) is entered through a 15th-century Chancel Arch, two-centred and comprising an ogee moulding and a wide hollow-chamfer. The ogee moulding springs from three-quarter respond shafts with simply moulded caps; on the W. face the hollow-chamfer continues on the responds but on the E. face its width is reduced to allow for square-headed squints to N. and S. Above each squint the wide hollow-chamfer is supported on a carved head corbel, integral with the masonry of the respond and therefore almost certainly of the 15th century although the style of the sculpture is suggestive of the 12th century. The springing of a small arch at right-angles to the chancel arch projects eastwards from the N. abutment.
The Nave (42 ft. by 17 ft.) has, on the N., a four-bay arcade in which the arches are of three orders: an inner ogee moulding, a central hollow-chamfer and an outer ogee; these spring from piers composed of four attached shafts and four hollow-chamfers, the latter continuous with those of the arches; the responds are similar (Plate 7). The piers and responds have polygonal base mouldings and the attached shafts have carved capitals representing winged angels bearing scrolls which continue from angel to angel; the sculpture retains traces of gilt and pigment but the heads of all the angels except for one on the S. side of the E. respond are modern replacements. The three angels of the E. respond have scrolls inscribed with Latin texts such as BEATI O[MN]ES Q[UI] TIME[N]T D[OMI]NU[M] in black-letter, in relief. The four angels of the E. pier hold pens and have blank scrolls interrupted by emblems of the Evangelists; the angels of the middle pier bear more texts in black-letter in relief; those of the W. pier have blank scrolls except for that on the W. which has a text; the W. respond has an angel bearing a blank shield in the centre, and blank shields only on the N. and S. sides; that to the S. is broken. Above the original angel-head on the S. side of the E. respond is a stone corbel which probably supported the rood beam; the sill of the opening at the head of the rood vice lies just below it. The S. side of the nave has, at the E. end, an archway to the S. chapel; it is two-centred and has mouldings similar to the N. arcade. Each respond has an attached central shaft with a moulded cap and base, continuous hollow chamfers and outer ogee-mouldings with plain capitals at springing level. The S. doorway has a moulded two-centred head with continuous jambs, below a square label which terminates in square stops at the level of the springing; the spandrels are decorated with foliate carving; the rear arch has a raised centre. The nave wall W. of the porch has a moulded plinth and a hollow-chamfered roll-moulded string-course below an embattled parapet. At the W. end the wall dies into the diagonal S.E. buttress of the tower; adjacent, a square-set buttress to the nave wall has two weathered offsets and terminates below a large gargoyle projecting from the string-course. Between the buttress and the porch is a casement-moulded two-centred window of three lights with cinquefoil heads and vertical tracery; the hood-mould is hollow-chamfered with square stops; the rear arch is two-centred.
In the South Chapel (13½ ft. by 8 ft.) the E. wall contains an opening to the 19th-century organ chamber. At the S.E. corner is a diagonal buttress of two weathered stages. The string-course and embattled parapet of the S. wall are uniform with those of the nave; at the S.E. corner is a grotesque gargoyle. The S. wall is continuous with that of the porch and is only separated from it by a square-set buttress, similar to that of the S.E. corner and also surmounted by a string-course gargoyle. In the S. wall is a window uniform with that in the S. wall of the nave.
The North Aisle (39½ ft. by 11 ft.) has, on the E., N. and W. sides, moulded plinths and hollow-chamfered and moulded string-courses, with embattled parapets and moulded copings, as in the S. chapel. Diagonal buttresses as before described strengthen the N.E. and N.W. corners, and two similar squareset buttresses occur on the N. wall; the E. bay is wider than the others. In correspondence with each buttress a grotesque gargoyle protrudes from the string-course and another, in the form of a human head with flowing hair, occurs above the easternmost N. window. At the S. extremity of the E. wall a square turret containing the rood-loft vice is capped with weathered stonework. Adjacent is a small, square-headed casement-moulded E. window of two cinquefoil two-centred lights below a hollow-chamfered label. Internally the window is spanned by a segmental rear arch and to the S. it is flanked by the rood vice doorway, which is two-centred and rebated for a door. The N. wall of the aisle has three three-light windows similar to the window of the S. chapel. The W. wall contains a reset window which is richer and perhaps earlier than the others in the church; it may come from the original chancel. It is casement-moulded externally and internally and has three ogee-headed cinquefoil lights, and intersecting tracery in a two-centred head. The jambs and head are bordered internally by a continuous double-ogee moulding.
The West Tower (11½ ft. by 12 ft.) is of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings and has three external stages defined by weathered string-courses, that between the second and third stage being also hollow-chamfered. At the base is a moulded plinth; at the top, a deep hollow-chamfered and moulded string-course is surmounted by an embattled parapet with a continuous moulded coping. At each corner of the parapet string-course is a grotesque gargoyle; above are 18th-century corner pinnacles with fluted sides and crocketed finials. Each corner of the tower has a diagonal buttress with weathered offsets; those to N.W. and S.W. are of five stages, those to the N.E. and S.E. are truncated below by the Nave and N. Aisle walls. The two top stages of each buttress, corresponding with the top stage of the tower, are narrower than in the lower stages and have weathered offsets just above the string-course. Square-set buttresses in the E. part of the N. and S. sides of the two lower stages provide abutment for the tower arch; that to the S. is incorporated in the vice turret, which is of rectangular section, with a gabled roof of weathered ashlar; it contains two chamfered loops. The tower arch is two-centred and of three orders, the two inner orders wave-moulded and the outer order an ogee. The inner order rests on attached shafts with moulded caps and polygonal bases; the middle order is continuous, and the outer ogee is repeated on the responds below moulded capitals. The W. doorway has a two-centred chamfered and hollow-chamfered head, continuous jambs and a concentric hood-mould. Above, the two-centred W. window continues into the second stage, the string-course outlining the head, as a hood-mould; the window is of two lights with cinquefoil cusping in two-centred heads below vertical tracery. In the S. wall of the tower, internally, the vice doorway has a two-centred head and chamfered jambs. A little way up the vice is a blocked doorway which must formerly have given access to a gallery. Near the top of the second stage of the tower, on the S. side, is a small trefoil-headed light. In the third stage each face has a uniform belfry window of two transomed lights with two-centred trefoil heads (cinquefoil on the S. side) and vertical tracery in a two-centred casement-moulded outer head with a hood-mould; the lights have perforated wooden shutters.
The South Porch has plinth, string-course and embattled parapet continuous with those of the Nave and S. Chapel. The S.W. corner has a diagonal two-stage buttress with weathered offsets and, in the string-course above, an angle gargoyle. The two-centred S. archway has continuous jambs and moulded stops; the arch profile, uniform inside and out, consists of double ogee mouldings, a deep casement moulding and a hollow-chamfer; externally there is a moulded label.
Roofs: The nave has a late 15th-century wagon roof rising above treble hollow-chamfered cornices at wall-plate level. The cornices have square leaf bosses at intervals in each order of chamfering, and an embattled moulding at the top. The roof is divided into panels by moulded transverse and longitudinal ribs which protrude below the plaster ceiling and form six bays, each with four rectangular panels; at the intersections are carved wooden bosses. The S. Chapel has a modern flat roof but some of the head-corbels on which it rests are probably original; on the N. side they represent a woman, a bishop and two bearded men; on the S. side are four male heads. The flat roof of the N. Aisle is original; it has heavily moulded transverse beams, with raised centres, intersecting three similarly moulded longitudinal members and moulded wall-plates to form thirteen bays of coffering, each bay four coffers in width (Plate 21). Every coffer is sub-divided into four panels by smaller intersecting cross-beams. Every main intersection is decorated with a carved wooden flower boss with leaves masking the mitre of the mouldings; the intersections of the cross-beams are similarly decorated but on a smaller scale. On the N. side of the aisle the transverse members rest on curved timber brackets which are morticed into vertical wall-posts; of these the three easternmost are shaped like columns and two of them rest on roughly carved stone head-corbels. The four easternmost bays of the roof are set at a slightly higher level than the others and have transverse members that are deeper than the longitudinal ones; the rafter bosses in this part of the roof are richer, and the points where the smaller cross-beams meet the main beams are additionally enriched with leaf-shaped covers. The distinction implies that an altar formerly stood beneath these bays. In the S. Porch, carved head-corbels at the four corners probably indicate the level of a former roof.
Fittings—Bier: with turned legs, moulded rails and turned sliding shafts, late 17th century. Bracket: Over S. door, with hollow-chamfered sides. Chests: Two, of oak, one 4 ft. by 1⅓ ft. by 12/3 ft. high, with panelled front, carved initials 'T.E.' and date AD 1712; another 3½ ft. by 1¼ ft. by 1½ ft. high, with flush panels, late 18th century. Doors: In S. doorway, of oak, with vertical outer and horizontal inner planks fastened with wrought-iron nails; jointing of external planks covered with chamfered vertical fillets, shaped at top to form pointed tracery in two-centred door-head; 15th century, with wrought-iron latch and escutcheon, probably later. In tower vice doorway, of oak, with chamfered fillets to outline of two-centred head, and wrought-iron hinges; probably 15th century. Graffiti: In N. aisle roof, wall-plate on S. side in second bay from E. inscribed in black paint 'Jon London', perhaps signature of joiner. On leaden tower roof, on jambs of S. porch and on W. jamb of tower vice doorway, 18th-century dates and initials. Hour-glass: Mahogany frame and glass, 18th-century, in wrought-iron bracket protruding from wall over pulpit, perhaps 15th century.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In organ chamber, reset on E. wall, (1) of Thomas Hobson, 1777, and his wife, 1779, oval tablet with pediment, by Thomas of Sherborne; reset on S. wall, (2) of Samuel Fitzherbert, 1832, tablet by G. Crawford of Sherborne. In churchyard, E. of chancel, (3) of Robert Bridgis, 1607, table-tomb. Floor-slabs: At foot of chancel step, (1) of John Pullen, 1718, Purbeck stone. In S. Chapel, (2) of Mrs. Francis Jeanes, 1646, Purbeck slab with arms of Willoughby (Coker, 132). Niche: In E. wall of N. aisle, roughly cut recess with four-centred inner head retaining red pigment. Panelling: At entry to chancel, fielded oak panelling in one height with moulded plinth and cornice, probably transferred from former gallery; other sections of similar panelling reused in S. Chapel; 18th century. Piscina: In S.E. corner of N. aisle, with chamfered four-centred head below sunk spandrels, also remains of bowl and outlet, 15th century. Plate: includes late 17th-century cup and cover-paten, also paten with date-mark for 1724, and pewter alms-dish of c. 1800. Pulpit: oak, with five panelled sides in two heights; lower height reeded, upper height with frets, both heights with enriched beading; late 17th century, moulded base and cornice modern. Royal Arms: Above tower arch, wooden panel with eared architrave, painted with arms of George III and inscribed 'The gift of Henry D'Aubeny Esqr., Anno Domini 1804'. Sundials: On parapet above porch arch, square stone dial with incised degrees, perhaps 18th century; on buttress to E. of porch entry, two scratch-dials, mediaeval. Miscellanea: Built into N. wall of chancel, miscellaneous architectural fragments including two head-corbels, perhaps 12th century, also fragments of foliate enrichment and portions of chamfered and cusped 15th-century tracery. In Porch, incomplete piscina with mason's setting-out lines, carved head at one corner, 13th century.
(2) Bridge (69931202), across the Caundle Brook about 50 yds. N. of the church, is of rubble. It was originally of two spans but it now has three, the former S. abutment being separated from the bank by a secondary channel. The massive centre pier has cut-waters at each end; the N. abutment is joined to it by a segmental arch of rough stone voussoirs, probably of the 18th or 19th century; the two intervals to the S. of the centre pier are spanned by iron girders. The massiveness of the centre pier and abutments suggest that the bridge is of mediaeval origin.
(3) The Rectory (69931190), 100 yds. S. of the church, is an early 18th-century building of two storeys, with rendered walls and a hipped tiled roof with stone-slate verges. The eaves have moulded plaster coves. The windows are sashed. The S. façade has three bays, the central bay recessed; the N. side has five symmetrical bays. Inside, several rooms have carved wooden fireplace surrounds and overmantels and other mid 18th-century joinery of good quality. A reset stone in a 19th-century outbuilding is dated 1678.
(5)–(7) Cottages, three, of two storeys with rubble walls and thatched or tiled roofs, stand respectively 30 yds., 75 yds. and 100 yds. S. of the church: (5) is of the early 18th century and has only one room on each floor; it is now the outhouse of a later dwelling; (6) comprises two original rooms of the late 17th century and an 18th-century extension to the N.; (7) is of the 18th century and has three three-light casement windows in each storey.
(8) Buckshaw House (68731133) is a mid 18th-century building with extensive late 19th-century additions. The walls are rendered and of ashlar; the roofs are slated. Except for the E. front, little of the 18th-century house remains visible. It is two-storied and of seven bays, having a central doorway and two flanking bays in a central pavilion, and other bays arranged symmetrically, two on either side. All the windows are sashed and of equal size, but the window above the doorway is enriched with scrolled cheek-pieces. Rusticated ashlar quoins define the central pavilion and the extremities of the front; a lightly moulded plat-band marks the first floor. Presumably there was originally an eaves cornice above the first-floor windows, but it was destroyed when a pedimented attic storey was added in 1894. The doorway has an ashlar architrave and reeded consoles supporting a segmental pediment. Inside, all details appear to be of the late 19th century.
(9) The Manor House (68931040) is two-storied with attics and has walls of squared and coursed rubble, and a stone-slated roof. Though of 16th-century origin it was to a large extent rebuilt in 1889. In the W. front, to the N. of the end wall of the 19th-century S. range, is an original doorway with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs, surmounted by a small rectangular window with a moulded label. To the N. of the doorway is a 16th-century window of two square-headed lights with casement and hollow-chamfered mouldings, and with a label which is continuous with the moulded capping of the high plinth. The first floor of the W. front has two three-light windows with similar mouldings and square labels; the other windows of the W. front and a projecting chimney-stack to the N. are modern, but the stack includes a reset head corbel which is perhaps mediaeval. A mediaeval carved stone figure of a long-haired woman in flowing robes is set into the S. side of a 19th-century bow window at attic level in the W. end wall of the S. range. Inside, a first-floor room at the W. end of the S. range has a 16th-century plaster frieze with acanthus and griffin-headed knots above a band of vine-scroll ornament.
The house is surrounded on three sides by the remains of a rectangular Moat (class A 3) (fn. 1); it is almost certainly mediaeval in origin and it probably represents the site of a farm that was established in the waste beyond the open fields in the 12th or 13th century. Until late in the 19th century the moat was a normal mediaeval homestead moat and the Tithe Map of 1841 (D.C.R.O.) shows the site as a rectangular island completely surrounded by a wet ditch, with the house in the S.E. corner and extensive farm buildings outside it to S. and S.E. The ditch now remains only on the N., W. and S. sides, where it is 15 ft. to 20 ft. wide and up to 4 ft. deep. At the S.W. corner it has been turned into a water-garden with ponds, waterfalls and sluices, and at the E. end of the S. side the ditch has a rectangular projection to the S., crossed by the present drive to the house. The construction of the water-garden and the S. projection, together with the destruction of the E. side of the moat and the removal of the farm buildings, probably occurred in 1889.
(10) Westrow House (69471064) is an early 19th-century house of two storeys with rendered walls and a tiled roof. The three-bay S. front, with sashed windows, is sheltered on the ground floor by a wrought-iron verandah.
(11) Westrow Cottage E. (69721077) is an L-shaped house of two storeys in coursed rubble with a tiled roof. Although originally of the early 17th century it has been modernised and all openings are new. The gable of the W. wing has moulded kneelers and it formerly culminated in a moulded ashlar chimney-stack, fragments of which are found in the garden. A head-corbel resembling those on the chancel arch in the church is also in the garden. Inside, there are open fireplaces at the N. end of the N. wing and at the W. end of the W. wing; the rooms are spanned by moulded and chamfered beams. The W. bedroom contains a moulded stone fireplace surround with a square head and shaped stops.
(12) Westrow Cottages W. (69691075), two adjacent, have rubble walls and thatched roofs. A date-stone of 1707 is set in the S. wall. The stairs in the W. tenement have an oak balustrade with chamfered knops to the newel posts, and baluster-shaped slats.
(13) The Fox Inn (70171078) is a two-storied L-shaped house of the late 18th century, with coursed rubble walls, sashed windows and a thatched roof. A small cottage of slightly later date was added at the S. end. (Demolished.)
(14) Naish Farm (70561123), externally an undistinguished two-storied dwelling with rubble walls and a thatched roof, nevertheless retains many original features of a 15th-century farmhouse. It comprises a single-storied hall of three bays, with a solar and undercroft at the N.E. end and service rooms at the S.W. end. In the 16th century the hall was chambered over and a large open fireplace was built; at the same time the N.E. wall was rebuilt, and the service rooms were enlarged. The house, still fulfilling its original purpose, is a well-preserved specimen of its class and period. Although the small farmyard and ranges of buildings to N. and W. have no ancient features, they probably occupy the site of original buildings and combine with the house to illustrate the lay-out of a mediaeval farmstead.
A modern doorway in the S.E. side of the house opens into a through-passage. The original 15th-century N.W. doorway still exists at the opposite end of the same passage and gives access to a wash-room that has been built outside; it has a massive oak surround with a chamfered two-centred head and jambs and a large elm plank door hung on wrought-iron strap hinges. The S.W. wall of the passage is an original timber-framed partition, the central third of which contains two doorways set side-by-side, that to the N.W. being wider than the other. The two service rooms to which they originally led have now been combined as a kitchen. The oak posts are chamfered and shouldered and the common door-head, chamfered over the openings, continues unchamfered to right and left as far as the side walls of the house. The N.E. side of the passage is largely composed of the chimney-breast at the back of the hall fireplace, which was inserted in the 16th century; S.E. of the chimney-breast it is defined by a stud partition and a doorway with a chamfered and shouldered oak surround. The hall is divided into two storeys by a 16th-century ceiling with deeply-chamfered intersecting beams and wall-plates. The large 16th-century fireplace, spanned by a chamfered lintel, has an oven on the N. side. An original 15th-century doorway in the N.E. wall of the hall leads to the solar undercroft; it has a chamfered oak surround with a two-centred head, now modified to receive a square-headed door. The undercroft has chamfered wall-plates to N.W. and S.E. and a chamfered beam near the centre. The gap of several inches between the wall-plates and the walls is probably due to movement of the masonry; the N.W. wall was probably rebuilt in the 18th century, but the S.E. wall is at least in part original. The underside of these wall-plates is exposed to view and the absence of mortices and peg-holes indicates that the house never had timber-framed outside walls. The corner fireplace is probably an 18th-century addition.
The first floor repeats the plan of the ground floor. In the N.E. wall of the solar, somewhat N. of the centre-line, is a fireplace with a chamfered four-centred wooden head and stop-chamfered stone jambs; probably it was inserted in the 16th century. The middle room, originally the upper part of the hall, is open to the roof. Altogether there are six transverse oak trusses in the length of the house; the second and fifth, counting from the S.W., are framed partition-trusses with tie-beams, collar-beams, side and centre studs, and braces; the others, except the most westerly, are jointed-cruck arch-braced collar trusses. The S.W. truss is also a jointed cruck, but it must be a later insertion because the original trusses have carpenter's tallymarks I to V in sequence from S.W. to N.E., while that which spans the chamber over the kitchen has no tally-marks and stands S.W. of the truss marked I. Presumably the kitchen was originally only the width of one roof-bay and then was enlarged to two bays in the 16th century. The inserted jointed cruck is now represented by the principals alone; they are notched to receive the elbowed lower members which were each fastened with two pegs. The framed partition-truss marked I rises above the S.W. side of the through-passage and forms the upper part of the S.W. wall of the hall. Trusses II and III, spanning the hall, are chamfered arch-braced collar trusses. Truss IV, similar to I, is the original partition between the hall and the solar; truss V, arch-braced, spans the solar. All these trusses carry two purlins on each side of the ridge and are braced by curved wind-braces set diagonally and paired, two above and two below each lower purlin.
(15) House (70761134), 250 yds. N.E. of the foregoing, is of coursed rubble in two storeys, with a thatched hipped roof; it dates from the second half of the 17th century. The plan is a long rectangle containing two rooms, with a single central chimney-stack serving back-to-back fireplaces. A small entrance vestibule lies on one side of the stack, the staircase on the other. The N.E. front is symmetrically designed with four three-light wood-framed casement windows to each storey, two on each side of a projecting two-storied porch; the latter is rendered and possibly timber-framed; it has a two-light window on the first floor. Inside, some ceiling beams are chamfered and moulded. The two ground-floor rooms contain 18th-century fielded panelling, and the stairs have an 18th-century balustrade. (Demolished.)
(17) Woodbridge Farm (71221235), house, is T-shaped in plan and is of two storeys with thatched roofs. The head of the T has a symmetrical S.W. front of three bays, rendered, and of the early 19th century; the gabled end walls are of rubble and are surmounted by chimneystacks. Behind, the rear wing of the 19th-century house is prolonged by a two-storied brick structure, now a store, which dates probably from the first half of the 18th century; this is likely to have been an earlier farmhouse. A plat-band decorates each side wall at first-floor level, and the eaves have simple brick cornices. On the S.E. side there were originally five evenly spaced and uniform rectangular first-floor windows, and there are traces of two corresponding ground-floor openings with segmental heads. The N.W. side had four openings on each floor, with segmental heads on the ground floor and with flat lintels on the first floor.
(18) Elm Tree Farm (70871084) probably dates from the beginning of the 18th century. It is of brick in two storeys with dormer-windowed attics under a tiled roof. The symmetrical five-bay front is patterned with blue header bricks and is traversed, above the ground-floor window heads, by a weathered and moulded stone string-course. The two-light casement windows, uniform on ground and first floors, have stone surrounds and mullions with beaded margins. The central doorway has a moulded stone surround with a shallow four-centred head.
Early and mid 19th-century buildings in the parish include Lower Buckshaw Farm (680112), Crouch Hill Farm (701106), Cottages in Crouch Lane (70111095) and (69821142), and Middle Piccadilly Farm (716110).
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(19) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the open fields of Holwell is unknown. Field names on the Tithe Map of 1839 suggest former North, Brook, West and Birds Fields. Ridge-and-furrow in the former North Field can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974: 2189–94, 3187–92) underlying existing field boundaries, E. and S. of the village. To the N. and N.E. of the Manor House ridge-and-furrow, 8 yds. to 10 yds. wide, occurs in four butting furlongs.
Traces of ridge-and-furrow, lying within fields which were enclosed from the 'waste', exist or can be seen on air photographs in a number of places, e.g. around Lower Buckshaw (680113– 682110), where four irregularly-shaped fields contain ridges 6 yds. to 8 yds. wide, with headlands 8 yds. wide.
Roman and Prehistoric
(20) Inhumation Burials found at Westrow (approx. 696112 and 696115) while draining fields in 1866 and 1868 were accompanied by pottery, probably Roman, including a samian bowl (Dorset Procs. LXXVII (1955), 146; LXXXVI (1964), 119).