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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12 CHARMINSTER (6892)
The parish of Charminster, covering about 4,500 acres mainly on Chalk, extends N. from the R. Frome and is divided into two parts by the R. Cerne, the E. portion being much the larger of the two. The physical partition is reflected in the pattern of mediaeval settlements and fields. The land W. of the Cerne belonged to Charminster village and much of it was occupied by the open fields of that settlement; presumably the village originated on the W. bank. To the E. of the Cerne the land was divided between a number of small settlements all of which seem to be recorded in Domesday Book as Cernes; each had a length of river bank and a strip of land running N.E. up to the Chalk. The most northerly, Forston, is still an independent hamlet. Adjacent is Pulston and next, to the S., lies a narrow nameless strip with a settlement at the S.W. end; in 1839 this strip belonged to Cowden Farm and, like Cowden, was an isolated part of Frampton parish. After this came Herrison, Cowden, Charlton, Wolfeton and, in the S.E. corner of the parish, Burton. The last named is still an independent hamlet.
The village of Charminster stands in the S. part of the parish, astride the R. Cerne and ½ m. above its confluence with the R. Frome. The most important monuments are the Church (1), Wolfeton House (4) and the Riding House at Wolfeton (5). Up on the downs to the E. an extensive and important area of 'Celtic' Fields and associated settlement extends into Piddlehinton and Puddletown. A tesselated pavement found in Walls Field in 1891 almost certainly marks the site of a Roman villa.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary is built of local stone rubble with some flint coursing, coursed rubble and limestone, and Ham Hill ashlar (Plate 121). The roofs are lead-covered, except those of the chancel and the N. aisle which are slate-covered. An 11th-century church is represented by parts of the E. wall of the present Nave and by the responds at the E. end of the arcades; the S. respond partly retains its original thickness but that to the N. has been pared down to match the thickness of the present arcade, which is later. The 11th-century building was probably cruciform, with chancel and transepts projecting from a crossing or nave, wider than themselves. Four small clearstorey lights in the present nave must be survivals from the original building since they do not correspond with the spacing of the arcades. The present N. and S. arcades and part of the South Aisle date from the late 12th century, and the chancel arch was inserted at the same time. The E. half of the S. aisle was widened and extended E. in the second half of the 15th century to form the South Chapel, and the S. doorway and an adjacent window are of about the same date. In the early 16th century, part of the S. chapel was again extended to provide space for a canopied table-tomb. The West Tower was built by Thomas Trenchard, probably during the second quarter of the 16th century, and the North and South Vestries are of the same date. The Chancel was demolished in the 17th century and rebuilt c. 1838, the 17th-century window which had previously been set in the blocking of the chancel-arch being reset at the new E. end. The North Aisle was rebuilt later in the 19th century. There were general restorations in 1838–9, and in 1895, when the roofs were renewed.
The church is of considerable interest for its 11th and 12th-century features and for its noble 16th-century tower. The early monuments are important, and surviving fragments of 16th-century stencilled wall decoration are a rarity.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (17½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has a 17th-century E. window reset inside-out; it is of four lights with vertical tracery in a four-centred moulded head with moulded splays and has a chamfered label, now on the inside. In the N. wall a 19th-century doorway with a three-centred head and keystone has been converted into a window. The reset window in the S. wall is of the 16th century; it has two four-centred lights in a square moulded head with moulded reveals and label. The chancel arch is round-headed and of two lightly chamfered orders; on the E. side it has a chamfered label and on the W. a label with nail-head ornament; the shafted jambs have a three-quarter shaft to each outer order and a cluster of three segmental shafts to the inner order; the middle shaft has a pronounced keel. The much restored capitals are carved with scallops, enriched with simple foliage and fluting, and the moulded abacus on each side is continued as a string across the E. and W. wall-faces. The bases are moulded and those of the three-quarter shafts have spurs, now badly worn. N. of the arch is a squint, perhaps of the 16th century, with a square head and a modern sill.
The Nave (51 ft. by 20 ft.) retains on the exterior face of the E. wall the weathering of the steeper roof of a slightly narrower chancel; the present parapets, copings and finial are modern. Internally (Plate 6), the 12th-century N. arcade has four bays, each with a two-centred arch. On the S. side each arch is of two plain orders with a continuous label with nail-head ornament, on the N. side it is of one order with a chamfered label. The arches spring from columns with scalloped capitals, with volutes at the corners, and moulded bases on square sub-bases, with carved chevron ornament; the E. and W. responds are square. The carving of the capitals consists of numerous shallow scallops; two have angle volutes to bring the round to a square. At clearstorey level, towards the E. end, is the upper doorway to the rood-loft; it is of the 15th century with a square head and plain jambs, the rebated W. jamb being cut into by the E. splay of the adjacent clearstorey window. This window dates from the late 15th century and has two trefoil lights in a square head. A little further W. is a splayed round-headed light of c. 1100, decorated externally with a continuous band of chevron ornament. W. of this is another 15th-century window, taller than the first but otherwise of similar design; it is followed by a second early 12th-century light and, towards the W. end, by a third 15th-century window like the first. The westernmost 12th-century light and a similar one opposite to it in the S. wall are not central with the arcades below. The S. arcade of the nave and the S. clearstorey are similar to those on the N. except that the E. respond is notably thicker than its fellow and than the spandrel above it; the extra breadth shows that the responds are surviving parts of the antecedent nave. The column bases have spurs and the head of the easternmost window is probably a restoration. Supporting the roof ridge-piece and trusses are a number of reset 15th-century corbels: busts of angels holding shields or with clasped hands, human busts, grotesques, a king, a jester (?), and one with a head on the side and, on the front, a representation of a woman in horned head-dress standing beside a table with a cup. The W. wall of the nave includes the boldly projecting tower buttresses flanking the tower-arch; they have small plinths and weathered off-sets at two levels, one on the E. face at clearstorey sill-level, the other on the S. and N. faces just below the wall-plate.
The North Aisle (20 ft. wide) was rebuilt in the second half of the 19th century; the E. and W. ends are gabled and a 12th-century corbel carved with a grotesque head is reset as a kneeler in the W. gable; a similar kneeler at the E. end is perhaps a modern copy. The E. window is of 15th-century date, reset; it has two cinquefoil lights in a square head with a moulded label and head stops, one a man, the other a woman with horned head-dress. The rood-stair in the S.E. angle is a 15th-century insertion; the lower doorway has continuous hollow-chamfered jambs and a high four-centred head; the vice is lit by two chamfered rectangular loops. The four reset windows in the N. wall are all of the 15th century, with modern repairs, and similar to the window in the E. wall. In the W. wall is a modern segmental-headed opening to the N. Vestry, which abuts the N.E. side of the tower; further N. is a doorway of 1895.
The South Chapel (28½ ft. by 14½ ft.), occupying the widened E. half of the S. aisle, is also known as the Wolfeton Aisle. Except for the shallow early 16th-century S.W. extension it dates from c. 1470, but the parapets and copings are modern, like those of the rest of the aisle. The E. wall contains a 15th-century window of three cinquefoil lights in a square head below a moulded label with head-stops. N. of the window is the opening to a squint with chamfered jambs and a square head; it is probably of the 15th century and it was blocked when the original chancel was destroyed. The S. wall has, toward the E., a much restored three-light window contemporary with and similar to that of the E. wall; further W. a crudely turned depressed arch spans the recess-like 16th-century extension. Externally the recess is capped with weathered ashlar; in its S. wall is a 16th-century window of two elliptical-headed lights in a square head with chamfered reveals. Inside, supporting the chapel roof are three reset corbels, perhaps from the later 12th-century structure, one carved with a bull's head. The rest of the S. wall of the South Aisle (7¼ ft. wide) is probably of 12th-century origin. The late 15th-century S. doorway has a two-centred moulded head and continuous moulded jambs with run-out stops and a triangular chamfered rear-arch. W. of the doorway is a 15th-century three-light window, uniform with the E. window of the S. chapel. The S.E. buttress of the tower projects into the N.W. angle of the aisle.
The West Tower (12½ ft. square) bears in many places the monogram shown below; presumably it is for Thomas Trenchard. The tower is of three stages, with a moulded plinth and moulded strings which are carried round the angle buttresses and the octagonal vice turret at the N.W. corner (Plate 121). The embattled parapet has a moulded string interrupted by seven gargoyles. Crocketed pinnacles stand at the corners and in the middle of each side and are also continued up from the tops of the buttresses; the vice turret is higher than the main parapet and has eight smaller pinnacles and a central pedestal for a weather-vane. The buttresses, of four weathered stages, end at the level of the belfry window labels; those flanking the turret merge into it at the second weathering. Trenchard's monogram is carved on each stage of the W. buttresses, those of the lowest stage being inlaid in lead. Inside, the tower arch has a two-centred head and continuous jambs with spur-stops; reveals and arch-soffit are decorated with pairs of cusped ogee-headed stone panels in two heights, the lowest panels having shields carved with the double T.; the arch is of Ham Hill stone down to stoplevel; below it is of Purbeck stone. In the N. and S. walls are arched openings to the N. and S. vestries; they have panelled reveals like the tower arch and the Trenchard monogram again appears on shields in the lower tier of panels. The W. doorway has, externally, a moulded four-centred head and continuous moulded jambs with pedestal stops, all in a square surround formed by diagonal side-standards and a moulded string across the head. Each traceried spandrel includes a quatrefoil containing a shield with the double T.; the segmental rear arch of the doorway is plain. The W. window has five transomed lights with four-centred openings below and ogee cinquefoil openings above the transoms; the high four-centred head contains vertical tracery; head and jambs are casement-moulded and a moulded string is carried up over the head as a label; the rear arch is four-centred and chamfered. The W. face of the second stage of the tower is pierced by a small rectangular window with moulded head and jambs. The third stage contains in each face two two-light, double-transomed, square-headed belfry windows with square labels; the main head and jambs are casement-moulded and all the lights have elliptical heads and are filled with pierced stone panels. On the N. side some panels have the form of grotesque masks with pierced mouths and eyes. Access to the lead roof from the stair-turret is through a doorway with rebated triangular head and continuous jambs.
The North and South Vestries (respectively 12½ ft. by 10 ft. and 13 ft. by 9¾ ft.) flank the W. tower and are contemporary with it. In general they are uniform; on the free corners are two-stage angle buttresses, those to the N.W. with the Trenchard monogram on the lower stages; a similar square-set buttress marks the E. end of the 16th-century S. wall. The parapet walls and copings are modern and the walls have modern repairs. In the N. vestry, the N. wall has a window of three four-centred lights in a square head with a moulded label and a square rear-arch; at the S. end of the W. wall is a doorway to the tower vice, with a four-centred moulded head and continuous jambs above spur stops. In the S. vestry, the S. wall has a three-light window similar to that of the N. vestry, and in the W. wall is a similar window of two lights.
The South Porch (9½ ft. by 11½ ft.) is of the 16th century, but the porch arch was reconstructed in the 17th century; the parapet wall includes two 16th-century gargoyles and a corbel with the Trenchard monogram, now supporting a modern cross. The porch arch has a nearly round head of two chamfered orders with continuous jambs. The churchyard wall to the S. is of rubble with weathered copings and may in part be of the 16th or 17th century.
Fittings—Bells: six, in modern steel frame; 2nd, by Thomas Purdue, 1663; 3rd, probably by William Purdue, late 16th century; 4th, 1631; 6th, by Thomas Purdue, 1661, recast 1952. Brackets: In N. aisle, in N.W. angle of rood-stair turret, corbel carried on carved male head, 15th century. In S. porch, flanking doorway, two semi-octagonal capitals of Ham Hill stone, 15th century, reset. Brasses and Indents: see below, Monument (3). Chair: In chancel, with turned uprights and carved back, 17th century. Churchyard Cross: Loose against wall of S. aisle, portion of tapered shaft, 3¼ ft. long with chamfered angles, late mediaeval. Clock: In second stage of tower, wrought-iron frame with brass cogwheels, possibly of c. 1700, rebuilt 1896. Font: Circular bowl turning to octagonal below small roll moulding and tapering to roll necking, on straight octagonal stem with chamfered circular plinth and square base, traces of red painting on stem; rim with mortice and dowel-holes for fixings; probably 12th century, recut and reshaped in 15th century. Glass: In S. aisle, in cusping of E. window, fragments including four double roses and pieces of two more, floral patterns, black-letters reset upside-down and IHS monogram, late 15th century. Graffito: On S.E. respond of tower arch, carved devil's head.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In S. chapel, on S. wall, (1) of Grace Pole, 1636, daughter of Thomas Trenchard, wall monument of marble, slate and plaster with effigy of woman in voluminous dress with falling lace-edged collar kneeling at prayer-desk (Plate 34); on each side freestanding Corinthian columns with side scrolls supporting entablature with broken pediment surmounted by seated cherubs and cartouche containing lozenge-of-arms of Pole impaling Trenchard; inscription tablet below with scrolled and jewelled surround flanked by lion masks; semicircular tympanum over effigy enclosing modelled cherubs and clouds, and, in spandrels, cartouches with faded painted crests of Pole and Trenchard; vertical panels behind columns modelled to represent branches from which hang shields with painted arms, now largely effaced, representing on E. side Trenchard and on W. side Pole alliances. Adjacent to the foregoing, (2) of Mary Henning, 1821, and others later, marble tablet; (3) canopied mural table-tomb of Purbeck marble, second quarter of 16th century; front and W. end of chest with moulded plinth with traces of red and purple paint, and divided into traceried panels containing cusped and sub-cusped quatrefoils enclosing blocks for brass shields, now missing; at angles, spirally-turned pedestals below octagonal columns, the latter standing on tomb-slab and supporting flat-arched canopy with moulded cornice, enriched with quatrefoils and capped with blind brattishing; soffit of canopy elaborately traceried and with central pendant; in back wall, indents of brasses, now gone, of kneeling figure with scroll issuing from hands, Trinity, shield surrounded by scrolls, and inscription plate; brass fillet from chamfered edge of tomb-slab also missing. Built into S.W. corner of S. chapel, (4) canopied mural table-tomb, not in situ, of Purbeck marble and of similar form to (3), but dating from rather earlier in the 16th century and more Gothic in style; fascia below canopy divided into two bays of flat four-centred arches with sunk spandrels and cusping; canopy-frieze enriched with square quatrefoil panels; reset in back wall, frieze of four diagonal quatrefoil and sub-cusped panels enclosing blank shields, much decayed. In S. aisle, on S. wall, (5) of Thomas Nicholls, 1822, and others, black and white marble tablet; (6) of Robert Devenish, 1839, sarcophagus-shaped marble tablet with arms and crest of Devenish, by Lester of Dorchester; (7) of John, 1800, and Sara Devenish, 1820, marble tablet by Lancashire and Tyley of Bath; (8) of Martha Devenish, 1836, tablet similar to (6) and by same maker. In churchyard, (9) of Robert Gray, 1656, table-tomb; (10) of Lewes Cockrum, 1660, table-tomb. Floor-slabs: In chancel, (1) of the daughters of Thomas Hawker of Somerset, 1704, 1720, with incised architectural decoration, partly hidden; (2) of Henry Trenchard of Fulford in Devon, 1720; (3) of the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Trenchard, 1707, partly hidden. In N. aisle, (4) of Henry Hayward, 1705. In S. chapel, (5) of Thomas Trenchard, 1727, worn and partly hidden; (6) of Mary Henning, 1821, and others later.
Paintings: In nave, over chancel arch, faint traces now unidentifiable but when uncovered in 1897 thought to be scenes from Passion and Resurrection, 15th century. On N. wall, below doorway to rood-loft, areas of stencilled decoration depicting strawberries and strawberry-leaves in red on white ground, early 16th century; over first pier of N. arcade, traces of black-letter inscription from Matthew V, 16; over third bay, rectangular panel with black, gold and red surround containing black-letter inscription from Nahum I, 15, with traces of another painting higher up, all late 16th century; on S. wall, over E. respond, faded and fragmentary stencilled decoration corresponding with the one opposite; over second bay of arcade, fragment of the Apostles' Creed in black-letter, late 16th century; over third pier, fragment of text in rough capitals possibly from I Peter III, 7; over fourth arch, fragment of black-letter inscription possibly from Romans VI, 4 and 5, late 16th century; on W. wall, N. and S. of tower-arch, sepia paintings of trees, that on S. nearly obliterated, 16th century; at wall-plate level, initials in plain capitals. Piscina: In S. chapel, in S. wall, with hollow-chamfered ogee head, continuous hollow-chamfered jambs, shaped dish with boss carved as a halfrosette, and two drains, mediaeval. Plate: includes a cup and cover-paten of 1570 (or 1577, date-letter worn), maker's mark an orb surmounted by a crown; also stand-paten of 1836. Pulpit: of oak, octagonal, with moulded and jewel-ornamented plinth, on modern base; sides in two heights of panelling with enriched framing, rails carved with acanthus and guilloche ornament, stiles fluted and reeded; upper panels with round-headed arcading; cornice enriched with small console-brackets at corners and capped by modern book-rest; pulpit dated 1635 on internal panel. Royal Arms: In S. aisle, painted on wood, in moulded frame, 1757. Sundials: Scratch-dials, one on E. quoin of S. aisle, much worn and inverted, another on parapetwall of S. porch. Weather-vane: On tower, of wrought iron with copper vane pierced with initials T.S. and date 1744. Miscellanea: In S. chapel, moulded stone fragments with nail-head and chevron ornament, 12th century. In vestry, on N. wall, wood panel recording enlargements and repairs to church in 1838 and 1839. At foot of tower, outside W. wall, slab with Lombardic lettering '. . . MEN . . HI . . .'.
(2) Bridge (67649193), over a branch of the R. Frome, ½ m. S.S.W. of the church, is of two spans and of brick in English bond with ashlar dressings. The segmental arches spring from a squat centre pier with rounded and domed cut-waters at each end. The bridge is probably of the mid 19th century.
(3) Bridge (67959266), over the R. Cerne, 40 yds. S.E. of the church, is in three spans and has rubble walls and semicircular arches turned in brick. It is probably of late mediaeval origin but the arches were rebuilt in the 18th or early 19th century.
(4) Wolfeton House (678921), 650 yds. S. of the church, is built in two storeys with walls of Purbeck stone rubble, squared and coursed rubble, and ashlar; the roofs are covered with stone-slates (Plate 124). On the death in 1480 of John Mohun, who had married an heiress of the Jurdains, the former owners of the property, Wolfeton passed to his grandson John Trenchard. Before the end of the century it seems that timber from Frome Whitfield was supplied for structural work (Hutchins II, 547). The reception here of the Archduke Philip of Austria and Joanna of Castile in 1506, though largely fortuitous, points to the existence of a house of some pretensions. However, nothing survives that is demonstrably of the 15th century; the Gatehouse alone may perhaps have been begun by the turn of the century. Fragments of an elaborately decorated 16th-century structure incorporated in the present house, which on the evidence of a date tablet are not later than 1534, show that extensive rebuilding took place during that period; Sir Thomas Trenchard was then the owner. From Hutchins's account (II, 546) it seems clear that the house was arranged around a courtyard; the present Gatehouse occupied the E. range and a chapel to the N. formed, or stood close to, the N. range; the N. part was the oldest. The chapel was in ruins in c. 1800 and was then demolished, and the greater parts of the South Range and of the West Range were demolished between 1822 and 1828. The appearance of the complete S. range, with a curious diagonal wing off the S.E. corner, is preserved in W. Walker's engraving of the house (Hutchins's 1st edn., 1774, opp. p. 453) and in a drawing of 1811 reproduced in Country Life (17th December 1953). An early 19th-century sketch of the W. range, in the owner's possession (Plate 93), shows an elaborate arched entrance more or less axial with the Gatehouse; the presumption that this was the entrance to the screenspassage of the Hall seems to be confirmed by Hutchins's statement (loc. cit.) that 'near it (sc. the hall) to the N. is a small domestic chapel', since the latter is known to have been N. of the courtyard. The westward exten sion of the S. range, containing the 'Gallery' on the first floor, was built in the last quarter of the 16th century, possibly c. 1580, during the ownership of Sir George Trenchard; at the same time a spacious stone stairway, now in part a 19th-century reconstruction, was built in the re-entrant angle between the S. range and the hall range. (fn. 1)
After the demolitions of the first half of the 19th century the house was practically derelict, as appears in Buckler's drawings of 1828 (British Museum, Add. MSS. 36361, ff. 197–9; 36439, f. 287). In 1862 the house was bought by W. H. P. Weston and his works of restoration and rebuilding were extensive. They included a reconstruction of the top stage of the octagonal S. tower, building a new octagonal N. tower and a new N. porch, and rebuilding or refacing the walls connecting the three. He also formed a passageway between the house and Gatehouse and made alterations to the offices to the W. The elaborate plaster ceilings in the drawing-rooms are perhaps of this period. Many windows have been altered and reset. The 'Gallery' on the first floor has been divided up, and in recent years the whole house has been divided into three units. Nothing remains of the important heraldic glass that was in the hall and other rooms (Hutchins II, 547–52); much of it was moved in 1798 and largely destroyed in transit to Lytchett Matravers.
Wolfeton when complete must have been a building of remarkable individuality and interest. The Gatehouse, provided for effect rather than real defence, and the surviving fragments of an early 16th-century house of high elaboration suggest considerable architectural ebullience, whereas the extensions of c. 1580 exhibit details, outside and in, suggestive of the classical sophistication that is associated with Protector Somerset and Old Somerset House; the stone carving of the 'Gallery' doorway is akin to that at Longleat, attributed to Allen Maynard, c. 1575.
The Gatehouse consists of a rectangular building with round towers on the N.E. and S.E. corners and with a gate-passage (13½ ft. by 10¼ ft.) through it from E. to W. (Plate 125). On the E. side the wall between the towers has a moulded plinth, a moulded string at first-floor level and a coved stone eaves-cornice. The entrance archway is set slightly N. of centre; it has a four-centred and moulded head and continuous jambs with pedestal-bases to each moulding, graded in height to create an illusion of greater recession, and a moulded label with carved stops representing a satyr and a woodhouse, each holding a stave; reset above is a cartouche of c. 1720 containing the quarterly arms of Trenchard, Mohun and Jurdain, with an inescutcheon of Tuckfield quartering two other coats. The windows on ground and first floors are of one, two and three lights with hollow-chamfered four-centred heads with foliate spandrels; they are of the early 16th century and those on the ground floor have been reset. The N.E. and S.E. towers are respectively 10¾ ft. and 14½ ft. in internal diameter. The first tower incorporated a garderobe in the N.E. sector and the head of the outlet is visible above ground-level. The towers have moulded plinths, higher than that of the main front, and they are divided into two stages by moulded strings which are continuous with the string on the main front; they stand above the general eaves-level of the building and are covered with low-pitched conical roofs. In each tower, just below the string-course, an original gun-loop covering the main entrance-archway consists of a chamfered slit with a round widening in the centre; the wall-string mitres over it. The other openings below the string-course are modern or reset; the upper windows are small, of single lights and of the early 16th century with high four-centred hollow-chamfered heads and jambs and foliated spandrels; the S.E. tower has a small louvred rectangular opening below eaves-level, the entrance to a large pigeon-loft. The N. end wall is gabled and the plinth and string are similar to those on the E. front; in the centre is a projecting chimney-breast with the first-floor flue supported on hollow-chamfered corbelling at string level and weathered back above; in the stack and reset from the destroyed south range is an inscribed panel in a moulded stone frame. The inscription reads HOC OPUS FINITU[M] EST ANNO DNI MDXXXIIII. A restored 16th-century window on the ground floor has two lights with elliptical heads and foliate spandrels, and a single-light window on the first floor is similar to the windows in the towers. Although the S. end has been much patched and repaired it is evident that a wall originally projected S. from the W. angle. The arrangement is very similar to that of the N. end; the projecting chimney is in part corbelled and in part continued down to the ground; the plinth mouldings on the tower change to a chamfer and in this form are continued across the front; all the ground-floor windows are 19th-century insertions. The W. side has plinth, string and cornice mouldings similar to those of the E. front; the archway has a high four-centred double-chamfered head, continuous chamfered jambs stopping against the returned plinth-mouldings, and a moulded label rising at the apex to a finial-like pedestal on which a naked child sits carrying a shield carved with the initial S (for Strangways) or possibly a double T (for Thomas Trenchard); the stops have the form of crouching putti holding shields, one with the same letter in a foliated wreath, the other T E (for Thomas Trenchard and Elizabeth (Strangways) his wife) and interlacement; set in the wall-face flanking the finial are two more shields with the initials T T and T E respectively, looped together with tasselled cords. The 16th-century windows are of one, two and three lights with four-centred and round-headed openings; those on the upper floor have shallow square heads and foliated spandrels and to some extent have been altered or reset. Under the eaves towards the N. is a reset head-stop of a man. At each end of this W. side are indications of pre-existing walls projecting westward. (For interior of Gatehouse see p. 67.)
The bulk of the surviving House stands some 13 yds. W. of the Gatehouse, the two now being connected solely by a mid 19th-century covered passage. Originally the S. range of the quadrangular courtyard house continued E. to join the Gatehouse and had a small wing projecting diagonally from the free S.E. corner. On it was the date panel that is now reset in the Gatehouse.
The S. front of the house retains, to the E., the only surviving part of the early 16th-century S. range. This comprises the S. tower, a projecting garderobe and the main S. wall linking them. The S. tower, originally probably a stair-tower, is of three stages, the topmost being a rebuilding of c. 1862 to replace the gabled attic storey, demolished some thirty-five years earlier, shown in W. Walker's engraving of the house (Hutchins, loc. cit.). The tower has a moulded plinth and moulded strings, and in the W. face is an original doorway with a restored square moulded head and jambs with pedestal stops; to the S.W. is a rectangular window with hollow-chamfered head and jambs; to the E. is a 19th-century two-light window and, in the second stage, two original windows of one and two lights respectively, with four-centred openings in square heads with carved spandrels. The N.E. splay and all of the free northerly wall is refaced. To the W. of the tower the surviving part of the main S. wall has been much patched and the moulded upper members of its plinth have been cut away for the lowered sill of the easternmost window; this last is of the early 16th century, reset, and has three lights with segmental openings in the square head, moulded jambs and mullions with small discrete pedestal bases to each moulding. The bases are shortened in height in recession, as on the Gatehouse, perhaps to force the perspective. The label is moulded and embattled and the E. return, for which the W. wall of the tower has been cut back, has a carved stop of a cross-legged man wearing a hat; the W. end stops on a carved grotesque beast and is without a vertical member on account of the proximity of another window immediately W. The second window is also of the early 16th century but partly restored; it was probably originally of five lights and placed axially below the window above. It now has two transomed lights with round-headed openings and carved spandrels, below as well as above the transom. The jambs have pedestal bases. The ovolo moulding of the head and jambs is carved with a twisted garland of ribbon and fruit of Renaissance character; the label has elaborate foliage carving and stops representing the busts of a man and a woman. The five-light window on the first floor is similar in detail to the opening just described, except that it is without a transom and retains the original moulded mullions with small semi-octagonal moulded pedestalbases with pyramidal stops bringing them out to the square; the label is carved with grapes and vine tendrils and the carved label-stops are of a man and a winged and feathered grotesque; the moulded sill is continued across the wall-face as a string. The garderobe immediately to the W. comprises a small semi-octagonal first-floor projection supported on a rectangular shaft; the shaft has a moulded plinth and capping, moulded corbelling at the sides and small broaches at the corners to bring it to the semioctagon above. The garderobe has in the S.E. face a small restored window with wood frame, two-centred and with foliate spandrels; it has a moulded stone eaves-cornice and a roof of weathered ashlar, pyramidal and semi-octagonal, with a carved finial representing a seated man holding sword and buckler. Adjoining on the W. is the ashlar front of the late 16th-century block, which contained the former 'Gallery' on the first floor; it has a moulded plinth, a classical entablature of shallow projection carried across the front as a string-course immediately above the ground-floor windows, and an eaves entablature with dentil-like modillions, breaking forward at extended intervals over shaped and moulded consoles. Each of the three windows on ground and first floors was originally of four transomed lights with square heads and moulded jambs and mullions, with moulded pedestal-stops above transoms and sills; but a door has been cut in the E. window, the westernmost light of the W. window has been built up flush with the wall-face in ashlar, and a number of other lights have been blocked. Walker's engraving (Hutchins, loc. cit.) shows a bay-window where the centre windows are now; it was demolished in 1798 and there is patching and evidence of resetting in the area.
The lower W. end of the house has been much altered and rebuilt and is now largely of the late 18th or early 19th century, except towards the W. extremity, where the front has a moulded plinth, a four-light stone-mullioned window on the ground floor, with a square head and a label and, on the original first floor, traces of another blocked window. All these features are of the 17th century and perhaps are the remains of the small twin-gabled annex shown in Walker's engraving, since heightened and in part rebuilt.
The wall of the E. front, N. of the S. tower, is ostensibly of the mid 19th century; so also is the return N. wall from the N. tower as far as the N. porch. The 19th-century drawings already mentioned, and another sketch in the Dorchester Museum (Gorland 19), suggest that they are on the lines of original and early 19th-century internal and exterior walls; thus this mid 19th-century appearance may be no more than refacing. The N. tower is entirely mid 19th-century.
The N. front has, to the E., the mid 19th-century screenwall to the passageway that joins the house to the Gatehouse. Further W., the N. wall of the stair is of the late 16th century, refaced in the early 19th century but retaining over the porch a window of three mullioned and transomed lights in a square head with moulded jambs and pedestal-stops. The gabled upper part of the W. return wall of the stair appears above the adjoining buildings; it has a parapet-wall, moulded coping and shaped kneelers and contains a blocked late 16th-century two-light window with square head and moulded label. Further W. the walls of the office buildings are of squared and coursed rubble and are, in part, of the late 18th century with some earlier material reused.
Inside, the house was extensively remodelled in the second half of the 19th century and many of the features and fittings are of that date, albeit in Elizabethan or Jacobean style. The Entrance Hall contains a number of reset fragments of c. 1600, among them a stone achievement-of-arms of Trenchard quartering Mohun, Bruer or Briwere, and Jurdain (see illustration on p. 64). The cartouche is now over the north doorway but it was originally over the 'great door at the east front' (Hutchins II, 547); that is to say it was on the W. range, over the entrance to the screens (see Plate 93). Two late 16th-century half-length figures of naked women carved in stone stand in circular recesses in the W. spandrels of the archway to the stairs. The doorway to the Dining Room from the S. part of the entrance hall has an elaborately carved timber surround made up in the 19th century with some early 17th-century pieces, and a frieze of reused panels, perhaps of the early 16th century, carved with Zodiac scenes and also part of an Annunciation; the doorway in the opposite wall is of similar origin, one of the incorporated pieces being dated 1642. The walls are lined with restored early 16th and 17th-century panelling, the earlier with linen-fold decoration, and the cornice includes a number of reused early 16th-century carved panels of French Renaissance character.
The East Drawing Room, the former 'Parlour', contains a door-case and fireplace-surround with overmantel all comprising highly enriched assemblages of early 17th-century woodwork from other parts of the house. The doorway has a semicircular arched head on moulded imposts and reeded and fluted responds; Corinthian side pilasters on pedestals support an entablature with lions' masks in the frieze, over which is a much mitred and gadrooned panel flanked by standing figures of a king in grotesque armour and a woman; the whole is flanked by a pair of colossal attached Composite columns on pedestals and these support an entablature which meets the ceiling and has a modillion cornice, and strapwork in the frieze flanking a shield-of-arms of Trenchard quartering Mohun and Jurdain. The door is panelled in three heights, with a gadrooned centre panel and a semicircular upper panel with radiating jewel and strapwork ornament; every member of the door-case is elaborately carved (Plate 126). The fireplace-surround is of similar character, with flanking terminal-figures supporting a frieze and, above, an overmantel with three standing male figures flanking two panels which contain figures of Hope and Justice framed in round-headed arches; on each side, colossal attached Composite columns on pedestals support an entablature with a modillion cornice and a frieze with consoles and strapwork ornament (Plate 126). The fireplace opening is reduced in size by the insertion of a timber surround comprising two small Corinthian half-columns with arabesque ornament on the shafts and twenty-three carved panels of the Labours of the Months, signs of the Zodiac, etc., mostly of the early 16th century; they came from the Smoking-room which was demolished in the 19th century.
In the West Drawing Room the N. door is made up of pieces of 16th and 17th-century carving. The late 16th-century overmantel is of plaster, now painted dark brown, and comprises flanking terminal figures on pedestals supporting an entablature with a deep strapwork frieze; they frame a panel depicting the Judgement of Paris in an elaborate strapwork surround with angels, fruit and foliage, all modelled in high relief; the shelf below, which has been associated, bears the date 1652. The overmantel is closely similar in general design and workmanship to one in the garden chamber at Montacute.
The great Staircase is of stone; it appears to have been restored in the 19th century but it no doubt follows the general form of the late 16th-century staircase. The whole stair is monumental in scale. It has a balustrade with a pierced arcade of round-headed arches supporting a continuous moulded capping, all returned along the front of the first-floor landing; here, where the balustrade meets the wall, is a carved stone caryatid, either a finial or the respond to an upper height of arcading that is now entirely missing. The doorway from the landing into the former Gallery has a stone surround of the late 16th century, with Corinthian side pilasters, a pedimented entablature with small pedestals on the slopes, and a bust of a man with a knotted cloak in the tympanum; the frieze has an unusual carved enrichment of honeysuckle, acanthus and roses, a design that occurs also at Longleat. Although somewhat gauche, the doorway has the classical purity of the pre-Flemish phase of Renaissance work in England (Plate 127).
The Gallery, which occupied the whole length of the late 16th-century W. extension, is known to have had a coved and enriched plaster ceiling; it may in part survive but the room has been divided up and flat inserted ceilings prevent any sight of it. The original stone chimneypiece survives (Plate 127); it rises the full height of the room and is in two stages; the lower stage has flanking coupled Composite columns on panelled pedestals supporting an entablature in which the frieze is carved with arabesques and, over the columns, reclining female figures representing Faith and Hope; a decorative apron below the architrave is carved with strapwork incorporating human masks. The fireplace opening has been reduced in size by the insertion of a later surround with half-columns and corniceshelf. The overmantel has superimposed Composite columns on jewelled pedestals supporting a modillion cornice; they frame a large panel carved with a central reclining female figure in an elaborate strapwork frame, incorporating naked figures and heads of men and women. The whole chimneypiece is closely similar in design and workmanship to one in the great chamber at Montacute; thus the decorative apron is not a later association as might at first be supposed. The adjoining bedroom, a sub-division of the Gallery, has some reset 17th-century panelling.
The interior of the Gatehouse (for exterior, see p. 65) retains some noteworthy features. In the N. wall of the carriageway is a 16th-century doorway with a cambered chamfered head and continuous jambs with splayed stops; adjacent is a single-light window with a four-centred head and foliate spandrels; in the S. wall is an original doorway with moulded jambs with worn stops and a moulded two-centred head. The original open timber ceiling is divided into eight panels by chamfered beams and plates. Access to the N.E. tower is through a damaged stone doorway with chamfered jambs and flat head; it is fitted with a 16th or 17th-century nail-studded plank door. The ground-floor rooms retain a number of chamfered ceiling beams. The circular stair with centre newel has the first six steps of stone; above, the steps are of oak with the newel cut from the same timber balks as the steps and the soffits cut to the slope of the rise, as in a stone vice (Plate 81). On the upper floor are two stone fireplace surrounds of the first half of the 17th century; one has Ionic side pilasters supporting an architrave and, around the opening, a wide moulded frame enriched with fluting and gadrooning, with acanthus leaves at the corners (Plate 75); the other has rusticated Tuscan side pilasters supporting an entablature with a rusticated frieze below which the lintel is embellished with two courses of rustication. Two doorways have chamfered stone jambs and flat heads with rounded corners; one retains the original studded oak-plank door with strap-hinges and a latch with a fretted plate. The 16th-century doorway of the S.E. tower has a four-centred chamfered head, continuous jambs and splayed stops; it is hung with the original plank door. The stair continues up to the roof-space, where there is studded partitioning.
Walker's engraving of c. 1774 shows two garden walls extending S., at right angles to the S. front of the house. The one to the W. survives and is probably Tudor; it is of coursed rubble with embattled cresting and it contains a damaged doorway with a four-centred head.
The Stables, W. of the house, are of one storey with lofts and have coursed rubble walls and slate-covered roofs; they are of the 18th century. The W. front has a carriage entrance with round head, moulded archivolt and imposts, keystone and rusticated jambs, and three two-light stone-mullioned windows.
The Lodge and Gates, 270 yds. S.E. of the house, are of coursed rubble and ashlar. The lodge is of one storey and was probably rebuilt with older materials in the 19th century; it is connected to the W. gate-pier by a length of rubble wall containing an elliptical-headed doorway. The square ashlar gate-piers, with plain plinths and cappings and ball-finials, are perhaps of the late 18th or early 19th century. Two pairs of 18th-century gate-piers, 50 yds. E.S.E. and 125 yds. S.E. of the gatehouse, are rusticated and have ball-finials supported on shaped and moulded pedestals.
(5) Riding House (67869225), 125 yds. N. of Wolfeton House, was originally two storied, the lower storey very high, the upper storey little more than an attic. The walls date probably from the last quarter of the 16th century and are of ashlar on the E., S. and W., and of squared and coursed rubble on the N.; later alterations are in coursed rubble of poorer quality. Traces of two subsidiary ranges at right angles to the building suggest that an open-air manège lay formerly on the N. of the riding house.
As the earliest surviving riding house known in England the building is of considerable architectural importance. Prince Henry's riding house at St. James's Palace, built c. 1604, was in many respects similar to the present building although larger; the riding houses at Welbeck Abbey and Bolsover Castle date from later in the 17th century. (fn. 2)
The S. elevation has a plinth with a chamfered footing course and an ogee moulded capping, and is divided into seven bays by buttresses of two weathered stages (Plate 125). The most easterly of the seven bays is nearly three times the normal width; the buttress between the two western bays has been removed to make way for a secondary external stone stair. At the centre of the wide E. bay is a round-headed doorway, now blocked, on each side of which the plinth mouldings are returned downwards. The opening has a moulded head, continuous jambs and an ogeemoulded label; the arch mouldings are concealed by the rubble blocking wall. Above the doorway is a small lion mask, in relief, with the locks of the mane arranged radially; a similar feature occurs at Lulworth Castle (see Dorset II, 148). The fourth and sixth bays from the E. have mullioned windows of three square-headed lights, now blocked, with weathered labels which continue laterally and stop against the buttresses. Remains of a similar label flanking a large secondary doorway in the second bay show that originally there was a third window in this position.
The W. wall has two weathered buttresses and moulded plinths, as before. To the S. is a round-headed doorway similar to that of the S. elevation; it has continuous ogee and hollow-chamfered mouldings ending at shaped stops. In the centre of the wall and at the same level as the windows of the S. elevation is a window of three square-headed lights with double-chamfered surrounds, under a label with returned stops; the opening is blocked with brickwork. Above, in the upper storey, is a similar window, still open. The gable has moulded kneelers and a finial with crossed gablets.
The E. wall has plinth, buttresses, upper window and gable approximately uniform with those on the W. Below the gable the wall is pierced by small round windows in two storeys, as shown on the drawing. Each window has a chamfered and rebated ashlar surround and three of the openings retain original iron cross-bars. A blocked secondary doorway in the lower storey may replace a sixth window.
In the N. elevation a weathered buttress uniform with those of the E. wall, but now without a plinth, stands near the N.E. corner. Near the middle of the elevation is another buttress, stouter than those described but otherwise similar. Some 3 ft. from the E. buttress is a blocked round window, uniform with and at the same level as the upper row of eastern round windows. Two blocked rectangular openings occur near the eaves, one adjacent to the central buttress, the other about 15 ft. from the N.W. corner; it is uncertain if these openings are original or secondary. All other openings in the N. elevation are clearly secondary; the large barn doorway, however, may well replace a narrower original doorway. Two subsidiary buildings formerly stood adjacent to the main building; large parts of the creasing courses of their roofs, undoubtedly original, are neatly bonded with the original coursed rubble masonry. These were probably stable ranges, perhaps flanking an open-air manège on the N. side of the riding house. Part of the W. wall of the western range may still exist, incorporated in the E. wall of an adjacent cottage.
Inside, the building now has a secondary floor, some two feet above the sill-level of the original S. windows. The original first floor has been removed, but most of the beams upon which it rested remain; they are chamfered and measure 12 ins. by 12 ins. in cross-section; in the upper part, on each side of each beam are the housings of former floor joists; below, on one side is a row of small mortices for the ends of smaller ceiling joists and on the other side is a groove to receive the ends of corresponding joists. Thus the beams evidently supported both a floor and an independent ceiling, the groove enabling the ceiling joists to be inserted after the beams were in position. To the N. the beams are housed in the wall; to the S. they rest on rounded stone corbels which project from the wall, directly above the level of timber lintels spanning the window recesses. The roof retains many original members, but they have been extensively strutted and repaired.
(6) Forston House (66589574) is of two storeys with attics. The walls are of brick in Flemish bond with ashlar dressings; the roofs are slated. Hutchins (II, 544) records that it was built by Robert Browne of Frampton (1670–1734) and in all probability it dates from the early years of the reign of George I. Some embellishments were added by Robert's son John, who died in 1750; in recent times a new wing has been built to the N. and alterations have been made internally.
The W. façade is symmetrical and of five bays, with ashlar plinths, strings, parapet coping and flush quoins; above the second string the quoins become pilasters. The parapet wall screens the attics, but to each side it sweeps down in a bold curve to a little above eaves level; it is surmounted by decorative vases. The central doorway has been remodelled and provided with a reset early 18th-century wooden canopy on carved console brackets, and a modern architrave. The windows are rectangular, with plain stone architraves and double-hung sashes. On the E. the lower storey is concealed by later additions but otherwise it is similar in design to the W. front; many windows retain their original sashes with heavy glazing-bars. The S. front has a moulded stone eaves-cornice which returns for a short distance on the W. and E. fronts, corresponding with the upper string-course; the plinth and lower string are continued from the other fronts and the windows too are uniform. The N. side of the house is concealed by a modern wing the N. front of which has a curvilinear gable similar in style to that of the W. front. Reset over the modern doorway is a stone pediment on console brackets, with a cartouche in the tympanum carved with the arms of Browne; the pediment is of the second quarter of the 18th century and was presumably transferred from the central doorway of the W. front.
Inside, many of the rooms are panelled, some with original bolection-moulded panelling with panelled dados and moulded dado-rails. Many of the fireplace surrounds have been renewed. The original oak staircase has been very extensively repaired; it has turned and moulded newels and balusters, and a moulded handrail.
A Cottage 200 yds. N. of the house has a reset 17th-century stone doorway with moulded jambs and moulded four-centred head; the spandrels are carved with the date 1660 and the initials G.B. The Terrace W. of the house has low ashlar walls with flat copings and pedestal-piers supporting 18th-century urns.
(7) Charminster House, 50 yds. S.E. of (1), is of two storeys with attics. The brick walls are rendered and the roofs are slate covered. It was built early in the 18th century but extensive remodelling in the 19th century and alterations in more recent times have left little evidence of original work. The symmetrical S. front appears to date from the first half of the 19th century. The chimneystacks are of brick with segment-headed panels on each face, and heavy cappings; the E. stack includes a specially modelled brick with the date 1706. Inside, the responds of an archway between the entrance-hall and the stair-hall are cased with early 16th-century wooden panels, of French or N. Italian origin, carved in low relief with figures of saints in flat niches with shell-heads and side-standards. The circular staircase, of the late 18th or early 19th century, has turned balusters and newels and a moulded handrail. The Drawing Room on the first floor has a late 18th-century moulded plaster ceiling.
The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are two-storied, with walls of banded rubble and flint, of rough ashlar and flint, or occasionally of plain rubble. Roofs are generally thatched but in some instances modern materials have been substituted.
(9) Mill (68039297), now converted into a house, was built probably early in the 17th century, of banded flint and ashlar, but the walls now present a chequer-work of subsequent patching and rebuilding in clunch and brick. Two original casement windows in wood frames survive. Inside, the ceiling of the N. room is divided into four panels by deeply chamfered intersecting beams.
(12) Range of three cottages (67849263), on the S. side of the road 100 yds. S.W. of the church, is of two dates; the centre and E. cottages have walls of banded flint and ashlar and are of the late 16th century; the W. cottage has rendered walls and is of the late 17th or early 18th century. The middle cottage retains, in the N. front, two original stone-mullioned four-light windows with labels; the N. front has been heightened and a stone corbel which supported the original wall-plate is seen towards the W. In the S. front is a blocked original window and part of a chamfered stone jamb. The staircase is of c. 1800. The range was altered and restored in the 19th century and again recently.
(13) Cottage, now a storehouse, 20 yds. N. of (12), was built late in the 16th or early 17th century and retains an original three-light stone-mullioned window with a label. A modern cement shield over the doorway, with the date 1674, may replace an original date stone.
(15) Barn, 55yds. S.W. of the church, now largely demolished, is of brick in Flemish bond and until recently bore the date 1704; the heavily buttressed N. wall is retained as the boundary of a garden.
(16) Cowden Farmhouse (67779400), has walls of banded flint and rubble with some later brick. It is of the mid 17th century with a later extension to the W. The 16th-century windows with three-centred lights which flank the doorway are recent insertions, but at the E. end of the S. side the house retains one original stone-mullioned window with three square-headed lights. Plank-and-muntin partitions stand on either side of the entrance passage; that to the E. has been partly reset to accommodate a modern staircase. The open fireplace in the E. room has recently been brought from elsewhere. There are a number of original stop-chamfered ceiling beams.
(17) Pulston Barn (66719530) has walls of banded flint and rubble, with ashlar quoins, subsequently repaired and heightened in brickwork; the roof is tiled. The entrance is in the centre of the N. side and a projecting exit bay occurs in the middle of the S. side. The structure appears to be of the late 16th or early 17th century, but the brick repairs and the roof are of the 19th century. Hutchins (II, 544) implies that the building originated as a chapel, but the existing fabric shows nothing to substantiate this.
(18) Forston Barn, 100 yds. S.W. of the foregoing, has walls of banded flint and rubble with brick quoins and a thatched roof. It is probably of the late 17th or early 18th century, with later rebuilding at the S. end and in the transeptal bays.
(19) The Yews (68109276), 200 yds. N.E. of the church, has walls of brick in Flemish bond with blue headers. It is of the later 18th century with a 19th-century extension to the E. The symmetrical three-bay S. front has a rendered plat-band at first-floor level and a brick dentil eaves cornice; the central doorway has an open porch of wood with free-standing Roman Doric columns supporting a flat hood with triglyphs in the frieze; the sashed windows have flat gauged brick heads.
(20) East Hill House (68099265), 165 yds. E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with rendered walls, slated roofs and sashed windows; it was probably built c. 1840. A rounded two-storied bow window projects on the W. side and there is an iron trellis-work verandah.
(21) Toll-House (67559207), on the W. side of the Dorchester road, 300 yds. W. of (4), has rendered walls and slated roofs and is of the 19th century. It is hexagonal on plan with rusticated quoins to the corners which are visible from the road. The lowpitch roof rises to a central ball-finial of copper. The porch on the E. has rusticated jambs and a segmental head; the sashed windows have slightly rounded heads.
Other 19th-century monuments include the following—The Post Office, 100 yds. E.S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with rendered walls and a tiled roof; it was built early in the century and has, on the S., an original shop-front with two small-paned bay-windows flanking a central doorway. Rose Cottage, 20 yds. S.E. of the foregoing, is in part rendered; the early 19th-century S. front probably conceals an earlier building. Bridge Cottage, 35 yds. S.E. of the church, was built late in the 18th or early in the 19th century and has a rendered symmetrical E. front with a projecting gabled bay in the centre, and sashed windows. A Cottage (67659260) is built partly of cob and is of the late 18th or early 19th century. Forston Grange includes a pair of cottages and a range of three cottages, all built of flint and brick; they are of the early 19th century.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
The settlements are one or perhaps two of the Cernes in Domesday Book but they cannot be identified with certainty. Eyton (123–4) has suggested that Pulston was the Cerne belonging to the Count of Mortain (D.B. Vol. I, f. 79a), of 2½ hides; if this is correct the recorded population was only two bordars, though six thegns had held it in the time of King Edward. The settlement is not recorded separately in the 1327 or 1333 Subsidy Rolls but it appears to be included under Forston, where eleven taxpayers are listed. A chapel dedicated to All Saints existed there, and a chaplain was officiating as late as 1411 (Hutchins II, 546). In 1403 twelve 'messuages' are recorded (Hutchins, loc. cit.). In 1539 ten men are listed for Pulston and Forston (L. & P., Henry VIII, Vol. 14, Pt. 1, pp. 267–9). Desertion appears to have been complete by the 17th century for there is no record of Pulston in the Hearth Tax Assessment of 1662. However, Forston Grange (formerly Pulston Farm) and a number of post-1850 cottages around it still remain as the last part of Pulston to be inhabited (see Map of Pulston Farm by I. Taylor, 1770, D.C.R.O.).
Around Pulston Barn (17), the alleged site of the Chapel, are about 5 acres of remains. To the N. of the barn are at least four rectangular closes, cut back into the valley side, 17 yds. to 30 yds. wide and 30 yds. long, bounded by low banks of flint rubble 6 ins. to 1½ ft. high. Irregular scoops 15 yds. across at the lower W. end of the closes, just above the river, may be the sites of former houses. S. of Pulston Barn are the fragmentary remains of at least two more closes and to the N. of Forston Grange are another three closes.
Another 5 acres of earthworks lie 700 yds. to the S.E. The remains, which were ploughed in 1964, consist of eight parallel closes at right angles to the R. Cerne, 50 yds. long and 12 yds. to 18 yds. wide, bounded by rounded banks of flint rubble 20 ft. wide and 1 ft. to 2 ft. high. Four of the closes have platforms cut into the upper ends. Extensive areas of flint rubble and fragmentary banks indicate the sites of former houses. Large quantities of pottery, 12th to 15th-century in date, have been picked up on the site.
Nothing is known of the history of this settlement, but from its position and from the fact that it lay at the S.W. end of a narrow strip of land which was a detached part of Frampton Parish (Tithe Map of Frampton, 1839), it seems likely to have been one of the many Cernes recorded in Domesday Book. It was probably never more than a single farmstead. The remains, which are now completely destroyed, consisted of a slight hollow-way running N.W. from a ford across the river and very fragmentary banks and scarps. Pottery of the 12th to 13th centuries has been found in the area.
The settlement is one of the Cernes in Domesday Book but cannot be identified with certainty, though Eyton (123–4) suggested that it was one of the Cernes belonging to the Count of Mortain (D.B. Vol. I, f. 97a) of three hides. If this is correct the recorded population is either six or eight, depending on which three-hide manor is the correct one. Only four taxpayers are listed in 1333 and the settlement is among a list of Dorset vills granted a tax reduction in 1435 (P.R.O., E.179/103/79). The remains consist of four closes, 30 yds. long and 20 yds. wide, lying on either side of a slight hollow-way, 30 ft. wide, running N.E. up the tributary valley. There are no certain building sites. Low scarps and banks all around are perhaps the remains of other closes. The field is called Rough Piece on the Tithe Map of 1839.
The site is almost certainly one of the Cernes in Domesday Book but it cannot be identified more exactly. It is not listed in any of the 14th-century Subsidy Rolls, and indeed not until 1662 is there any recorded population (Meekings, 8); then only one household is listed 'atte Charleton Farme'. It seems likely from the records that the site was never more than a single farmstead and the remains confirm this. The earthworks, covering about 2¼ acres, consist of a roughly square enclosure on a steep slope of 15° surrounded on the N., E. and S. by a bank 2 ft. to 4 ft. high with an external ditch. The interior is divided by similar banks and ditches into five roughly rectangular areas, three on the S. side and two on the N., though there may once have been another in the N.W. Two platforms (a and b), in the N.W. corner, may be the sites of buildings. On the flat valley floor immediately below and W. of the remains recent ploughing has disclosed two areas of flint cobbles together with pottery of the 13th to 18th centuries.
Eyton (123–4) identified these with the 1½-hide manor of Cernel held by Hugh de Bosch Herbert in Domesday Book (Vol. I, f. 83a). If this is correct it had a recorded population of only four. In 1327 there was a recorded population of two. The Muster Rolls for 1539 (L. & P., Henry VIII, Vol. 14, Pt. I., pp. 267–9) list nineteen men for Wolfeton, but this total almost certainly represents the household of Wolfeton House, and also possibly includes Burton, not listed in the Roll, which formerly had a chapel (Hutchins II, 547 & 544). In the 1662 Hearth Tax Assessment, only Wolfeton House is recorded (Meekings, 8). The remains, covering about 3 acres, consist of at least five long parallel closes set at right angles to the present road to Wolfeton House. The closes are 20 yds to 30 yds. wide and of indeterminate length owing to the destruction of their E. ends; the length was at least 70 yds. They are bounded by low scarps. At their W. ends are rectangular platforms, 30 ft. by 20 ft. with 5 ft. high scarps falling to the road. The site of the former chapel is covered by a modern road.
The settlement is probably listed as one of the Cernes in Domesday Book. There are no known documents giving population figures and the place was deserted by 1772 (Map of Charlton and Lower Burton Farms by B. Pryce, 1772, D.C.R.O). The remains, covering some 15 acres, are now mostly destroyed and only a few indeterminate scarps and banks remain; before 1962 they consisted of a complex series of hollow-ways, 30 ft. to 50 ft. wide and 2 ft. to 4 ft. deep, associated with closes and platforms. Another hollow-way 200 yds. long and 40 ft. wide runs W. from the settlement towards Wolfeton (26).
(28) Cultivation Remains. The open fields of Charminster lay N. of the R. Frome and W. of the R. Cerne. Parts of them, in the area of Haydon Hill, were enclosed by agreement in 1587 (S. & D.N. & Q., XIII, 1912–13, 162–70); the rest, divided into three large open fields and two smaller ones, were finally enclosed in 1837 (Map and Award, 1837, D.C.R.O.). On Haydon Hill (671943) are some 40 acres of fragmentary contour and cross-contour strip lynchets, up to 250 yds. long and with massive risers up to 15 ft. high, arranged in end-on and butting furlongs. The N. part of these lay in Middle Field until 1837, the rest were enclosed in 1587. A further 10 acres of fragmentary contour strip lynchets lie 500 yds. to the N., W. of Forston House (6). These lay in Higher Field until 1837.
The settlement of Forston had open fields but nothing is known of their enclosure. Contour strip lynchets of these fields lie 700 yds. N. of Forston (667964); they are arranged in two end-on furlong blocks.
The open fields of Pulston were enclosed before 1770 (Map of Pulston Farm by I. Taylor, 1770, photo-copy in D.C.R.O.). Five contour strip lynchets of these fields lie on the valley side, 300 yds. S. of Pulston Barn (668950).
The date of the enclosure of the open fields of Wolfeton is unknown. About 40 acres of fragmentary contour and crosscontour strip lynchets cover Wolfeton Eweleaze (686933), 700 yds. N.E. of Charminster church.
Roman and Prehistoric
An area of mosaic 'of very interesting design' covering 12 ft. by 4 ft. was cleared in 1891 by E. Cunnington and F. A. H. Vinon. The design, a square of small white tesserae surrounded by a border of blue and red, had apparently formed a square of 15 ft. Excavations in 1960 by H. S. L. Dewar revealed a furnace flue, three flint steps and two fragments of walling. Two reused voussoirs of Ham Hill stone, slate and tile roofing materials, hypocaust tiles, tesserae, painted wall plaster, one piece with a 'convolvulus', and window glass, indicate a major structure. Samian, green-glazed and New Forest ware, and coins of Victorinus, Tetricus II and Gratian suggest occupation in the 2nd to 4th centuries A.D. Near the building lay an inhumation burial with a bronze brooch pin. Iron Age sherds were also found. Some 19th-century finds are in D.C.M. (Dorset County Chronicle, 2nd April, 1891, 5; Dorset Procs. XIII (1891), xxii; XVII (1896), xxv; XXI (1900), 84; LXXXII (1960), 86–7; S. & D.N. & Q. XXVII (1961), 7–10.).
(30) Settlement, late Iron Age and Romano-British, on Charlton Higher Down (694956), is associated with trackways and an extensive area of 'Celtic' fields (Group 36); it occupies about 4 acres in the corner of a modern field adjoining the Piddlehinton boundary and has been much reduced by ploughing. The settlement lies at 475 ft. O.D. on the ridge of a spur sloping gently E. from the high ground between the valleys of the Cerne and the Piddle. The main part consists of some seven platforms or hollows set into the slope and surrounded on all but the S. by banks confining them within about 1¼ acres. A track running S. from these platforms is bordered on the E. by a series of small, irregular, terraced areas. It joins a major through track running N.–S. along the E. side of the settlement, and between it and the 'Celtic' fields; this in turn is joined by a track from the E. Finds from the platforms and terraces, and from the area E. of the main trackway, include sherds in the Iron Age tradition, samian and coarse pottery from the 1st to 4th centuries, tile and worked stone (Dorset Procs. LXXIV (1952), 89–91).
All these monuments except (31) lie E. of the R. Cerne, on the higher ground between it and the R. Piddle; (34–40) form a scattered group on Bushy Eweleaze and (43–46) lie among the remains of 'Celtic' fields (Group (36)).