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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16 DURWESTON (8508)
The parish of Durweston lies on the S.W. bank of the R. Stour and covers some 1,800 acres, rising from about 200 ft. above sea-level at the river to 600 ft. in the W.; the land is entirely Chalk. Before 1381 there were two parishes, Durweston and Knighton, and the division between the two is probably represented by the continuous line of field boundaries which bisects the parish from N.E. to S.W. The reason for combining the parishes is unknown, but it was certainly not due to desertion, since both settlements are still well populated. The present parish church was originally that of Knighton; the remains of Durweston church (Hutchins I, 266) are said to have existed near Durweston Mill (6), and a few moulded stones still lie there. The date of enclosure of the downland in the S.W. part of the parish is unknown, but cottages at Shepherd's Corner Farm indicate that this was done before the middle of the 19th century.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, standing in the S. part of the village, was largely rebuilt in 1846, the architect being P. C. Hardwick, and presents little that is noteworthy apart from the 15th-century tower and a few reused fragments from the old building. The 19th-century Chancel, Nave, S. Aisle and S. Porch are faced with knapped flint chequered with blocks of ashlar. The S. doorway incorporates a reused 15th-century four-centred arch (Plate 49) inscribed with the epitaph of William Dounton, rector from 1442 to 1459, and another stone with the date 1455. The pillars of the nave arcade incorporate some mediaeval stones, and some of the moulded octagonal capitals are probably mediaeval although retooled.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (9½ ft. by 9 ft.) is built of coursed Greensand ashlar; it has three stages between the chamfered and moulded plinth and the embattled parapet (Plate 9). The top of the lower stage is marked by a weathered string-course and the upper stages have weathered and hollow-chamfered string-courses. The top string-course, at the base of the parapet, has a gargoyle at the centre of each face; above these and above the corners rise small crocketed pinnacles. The corners of the tower have diagonal buttresses; that at the N.E. corner springs from the roof of the vice a little below the top stage and the other three are each of six stages; a rough round-headed recess is cut into the lowest stage of the S.W. buttress. The rectangular vice turret is of two stages; its head is weathered back to the N. wall of the tower just below the top stage. The tower arch is two-centred and has two hollow-chamfered orders which die into the wall at the springing; there are no responds. The small doorway of the tower vice has a chamfered four-centred head and jambs. The W. doorway has a moulded four-centred head with continuous jambs and broach stops; the weathered and hollow-chamfered label ends in square foliate stops. The W. window, restored, has three cinquefoil lights and vertical upper tracery, in a two-centred casement-moulded head, and continuous jambs. The S. side of the tower is decorated externally on the lower stage with a tall niche carved in lighter and finer-grained Greensand. The projecting sill of the niche is supported on a moulded corbel; on either side, a buttress-shaped standard with a miniature corbel base continues up beyond the springing of the niche-head to a crocketed finial; above is a crocketed canopy, carved on the soffit to represent ribbed vaulting with a floral boss; the back of the recess retains traces of red pigment. In the second stage of the tower is another niche, similar to the first but with an ogee head and septfoil cusping in place of a canopy. A third niche, in the W. side of the second stage, is better preserved; it has an ogee head with trefoil cusping and sub-cusping. In the top stage, each face of the tower has a belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights with a blind quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a concentric label; the lights are fitted with pierced wooden shutters.
Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd, late 14th century, inscribed 'Sancta Maria', others recast. Chests: In S. aisle, small iron-bound chest with foliate escutcheon-plate and wrought iron handles, perhaps Flemish, 17th century. In vestry, 17th-century oak chest, 4¼ ft. long, with conventional leaf carving and moulded rails. Door: To tower vice, of planks with wrought iron strap hinges, heavily nail-studded, 16th century. Font: At W. end of S. aisle, with square base of Purbeck marble with mouldings for a round centre pedestal and four shafts, 12th century; stem modern; basin completely re-worked but possibly original. Graffiti: In S. arcade, incorporated in second column from E., inverted drum stone with late 17th and early 18th-century scratchings; on W. column, similar scratchings; presumably these stones survive from mediaeval fabric. Over S. doorway, reset four-centred chamfered arch with scratching of 1687 and several 18th-century scratchings (see also Inscription). Image: In S. aisle, reset above S. doorway, sculptured stone panel, 2 ft. high and with remains of red pigment, supposed to represent St. Eloi, patron saint of blacksmiths; discovered beneath E. window of old chancel during 19th-century restorations (Hutchins I, 266); 15th century (Plate 13). Inscription: On fascia of reset head of S. doorway, black-letter inscription in raised letters 2 ins. high in recessed concentric panel (Plate 49): "hic iacet sub tumilo downto will's humanis Rector erat ville durwesto' okefordie natus" and on W. impost of same doorway, in two horizontal lines of similar lettering, "Smpt. anno dni. mill'o cccclv".
Monuments: In S. aisle, above arcade, (1) of William Burtt, 1824, sarcophagus-shaped tablet by Hiscock of Blandford; (2) of Catherine Godwin, 1817, tablet by Hiscock; (3) of Thomas Keeping, 1840, sarcophagus-shaped tablet by Simmonds; on S. wall, (4) of Mary Ann Alford, 1839, tablet by Collins of Poole; (5) of William Dansey, 1800, white marble tablet with arms; on W. wall, (6) of Thomas Palmer, 1714, marble tablet in pedimented stone frame with scrolled side pieces and foliate apron. Plate: includes silver cup of 1837, paten of  and set of cup, paten and flagon with hall-marks of 1764 and arms of Portman impaling Fitch (Plate 43); although dates do not quite agree this set is presumably the one noted by Nightingale (140) at Bryanston. Sundial: On S. side of tower at belfry level, square stone plate with incised radii and iron gnomon, probably 18th century.
(2) Bridge (86350863), over the R. Stour, is of Greensand ashlar in three main spans, the central arch being slightly higher than the others (Plate 51). Cutwaters at each end of the two piers are carried up to form refuges in the parapets. The semicircular archivolts, of plain ashlar voussoirs, die into the piers at the springing. Plat-bands mark the base of the parapet walls, which have rounded copings. At each end of the bridge the walls sweep out and terminate at ashlar piers. An inscription on the parapet records the building of the bridge by H. W. Portman in 1795, the architect being Joseph Towsey.
(4) Cottage (85830846), 50 yds. S.W. of the church, is two-storied with a thatched roof and is of 17th-century origin. The walls, of knapped flint with stone dressings in the lower storey, include much repair in brickwork; part of the upper storey is timber-framed, elsewhere it is of brick. One ground-floor window on the N.E. side is of four lights with a chamfered and hollow-chamfered stone head and mullions; it has leaded glazing. The other windows are modern.
(6) Durweston Mill House (85930890), of the late 18th century, is a two-storied English-bonded brick building with attics in a slated roof. A service wing to the S.W. was added in the 19th century. The symmetrical N.E. front has a central doorway, one large sashed window on each side, three smaller sashed windows on the first floor and two dormer windows above. The stairs have turned and moulded newel posts and latticework balustrades. A cast lead pump-head with the initials H.W.P. is dated 1776. Some moulded window stones in the garden are said to have come from old Durweston Church.
(7) Knighton Farm House (85850858), 50 yds. N. of the church, has as its nucleus a two-storied late 18th-century brick house with slated roofs. It has a W. front of three bays, a central front doorway and casement windows. A brick plat-band occurs at first-floor level.
The following cottages have walls of brick, flint and cob, often rendered, brick chimneystacks and thatched roofs; they are mostly single-storied with dormerwindowed attics. They are of the 18th century.
(10) Cottages, row of four, face N.E., 40 yds. S. of the church. The most northerly has three sashed windows on the first floor and, on the ground floor, a door-hood which is supported on reused wooden consoles with foliate carving.
Buildings of the 19th century include the following—Durweston Farm (85740870), a two-storied farmhouse with rendered walls and tiled roofs; the original house, facing N.E., dates from about 1830; extensions to the N.W. and at the rear are of the middle of the century. A House (85950864), is two-storied with rendered walls and slated roofs. A Range of brick dwellings (85860869) is of the mid 19th century and were probably tenements of the Bryanston estate. The Dairy House (86090827) has as its nucleus a small 19th-century brick cottage, symmetrically windowed and perhaps originally a gate lodge of Bryanston House. Shepherd's Corner Farm (83550789), 1½ m. W. of the church, is of banded brick and flint with a tiled roof; it dates from c. 1840.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(12) Cultivation Remains. It is probable that originally both Durweston and Knighton had separate open fields, but by 1580 there was only one system for both villages (map of Durweston c. 1580, copy in D.C.R.O.); enclosure took place some time after 1580, but before the 19th century.
E. and N. of Norton Wood (853089 and 849091) and S. of Norton Lane (853086) are three blocks of contour strip lynchets up to 400 yds. long and now ploughed down. To W. of Knighton House (854081) on both sides of a dry valley are well-preserved remains of fifteen contour and cross-contour strip lynchets, up to 250 yds. long. The upper three strip lynchets on the S. side of the valley run up to the hill top and fan out; on the resulting wide treads is ridge-and-furrow, 5 yds. to 7 yds. wide. The S.W. part of this group overlies 'Celtic' fields (Group (60)). S.W. of Four Acre Coppice (860074) are five fragmentary contour strip lynchets.
Roman and Prehistoric
Barrows, two, W. of The Folly (842082) were opened by J. H. Austen c. 1860, but there is now no trace of them. One contained a central (? primary) inhumation surrounded by 'a walling of large flints', and an empty cist at a higher level; the other, a very small mound, contained only an empty cist, cut 4 ft. into the natural chalk (C.T.D., Pt. 2, Nos. 28 and 29).