An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972.
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5 CHETTLE (9513)
This parish, roughly quadrilateral on plan and with an area of 1, 124 acres, lies at the head of the dry valley which lower down is drained by the Crichel Brook. The village stands in the bottom of the valley and formerly was surrounded by its open fields; these were still in existence in the 16th century, together with enclosed pasture (Hutchins III, 569), but the dates of enclosure are unknown. The land in the N. W. of the parish was open downland until recent years. Chettle House, an early 18th-century mansion attributed to Thomas Archer, is the principal monument in the parish.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, near the S. end of the village, has walls of banded flint and ashlar, and tiled roofs. The West Tower is of the early 16th century; the Chancel, Nave, Vestry and Organ Chamber were built in 1849 to replace mediaeval buildings, then demolished. (View of former church: Hutchins 2nd ed. III, 170.)
Architectural Description—The 19th-century parts of the church have windows and other details generally in the 'Decorated' style. The 16th-century West Tower (Plate 33) is of two stages, with a moulded plinth, weathered string-courses and an embattled parapet. The buttresses are of two weathered stages, the offsets occurring about half-way up each main stage; there is no vice. The tower arch is two-centred and of two orders, the outer order chamfered, the inner order with ogee mouldings; the mouldings of both orders continue on the responds and end at low chamfered plinths. The W. doorway has a four-centred head of two chamfered orders continuous on the jambs, with chamfered stops; above is a partly restored window of three trefoil-headed lights under plain tracery in an elliptical head. The belfry has four uniform windows, each of two elliptical-headed lights with spandrel lights in a four-centred head; below the W. belfry window is a small light with an elliptical head.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st and 2nd with 'ave gratia' in black-letter, 3rd with 'Sanc Te Pe Ter'; all from Salisbury foundry, c. 1350. Chairs: two, of oak, heavily enriched, each with panelled back with shell cresting and two turned finials, richly carved legs and stiles, and stuffed seats; early 17th-century material reassembled in 19th century. Coffin-stools: two, of oak, with turned legs, enriched rails and stretchers and beaded tops, early 17th century. Monuments: In chancel, (1) of Rev. John West, 1845, and others of his family, sarcophagus-shaped marble tablet by Hellyer of Weymouth; (2) of Rev. John Napier, 1819, and Catherine his wife, 1833, marble tablet with slate surround. In nave, on N. of chancel arch, (3) of George Chafin, 1766, Elizabeth (Sturt) Chafin, 1762, and others of their family, oval tablet on variegated marble backing piece, with gadrooned sill, and finial painted with shield-of-arms of Chafin impaling Sturt (Plate 38); on S. of chancel arch, (4) of Thomas Chafin, 1691, and Ann (Penrudock) his wife, 1705, marble tablet in shaped stone surround with drapery enrichment, cherub heads, emblems of mortality and achievement-of-arms of Chafin impaling Penrudock (Plate 18). In tower, (5) of Ann Brewer, 1803, and others of her family, marble tablet with fluted grey pilasters. In churchyard, 5 paces S. of organ chamber, (6) of Henry Newman, 1717, headstone with scroll-work finial. Pavement: of nave and W. tower, of diagonally jointed stone flags, said to be from old church and to date from c. 1710 (Illustrated London News, 1849, 285). Plate: includes silver cup, perhaps late 17th century, with stem and foot renewed in 18th century; stand-paten, perhaps late 17th century, adapted to form cover for cup; flagon, with assay-mark of 1681 and inscription of E. Lowe, rector 1690–1693.
(2) Chettle House (95141318), of two principal storeys with basements and attics, and with a three-storeyed central pavilion, has walls generally of finely coursed red brickwork with ashlar dressings, and roofcoverings of lead and of slate (Plate 36). The house was built c. 1710 for George Chafin, M.P. 1713–1747, the architect in all probability being Thomas Archer (Oswald, 153). An 18th-century drawing once belonging to Colen Campbell and now in the R.I.B.A. Library, here reproduced, shows the original plan of the lower main floor. (fn. 1) That the rounded N. and S. end bays originally occurred in the upper storey, as well as at the level shown, is indicated by the description of the house in a Bill of Sale dated 1825, where 'four circular-fronted dressing rooms' are listed on the bedroom floor. After the death in 1818 of George Chafin's son, the Rev. William Chafin, the house stood empty for many years. It suffered severely while vacant and in restoring it, c. 1845, the new owner, Edward Castleman, remodelled the lower main floor as shown on the plan above, and removed the N. and S. bays in the upper storey; it is said that he also removed a cupola which formerly crowned the central pavilion. J. Pouncy's view of the house as it was c. 1856 (Dorset Photographically Illustrated, III, pl. 3) shows the rounded bays rising only one storey above the basement, the curved walls then being capped with parapets and urns. In 1912 the rounded upper storeys were reinstated; they were furnished with balustraded parapets in imitation of the parapets of the central part of the building, features which they cannot have had in the original design since the remains of the original parapets are still seen above the roofs, returning on the line of the outside pilasters of the main fronts.
Architectural Description—The W. front (Plate 36) is symmetrical and of nine bays, the three central bays projecting in a rounded pavilion one storey higher than the lateral bays. The basement storey forms a podium with a moulded stone capping and has windows with ashlar architraves; above, the bays of the façade are defined by brick pilasters which support an ashlar entablature above the window heads of the upper main storey. The pilasters bases are of brick; the capitals are of Chilmark stone and of unusual pattern, having astragals decorated with guttae, and fluted rectilinear bells wider at the bottom than at the top. The entablature has a plain frieze with modillions. The tall sashed windows have segmental heads of gauged brickwork and those of the first floor have brick aprons. Above the entablature the attic storey of the central pavilion is crowned by a balustraded parapet with finials representing castles, the rebus of the Castlemans. The lateral bays have solid parapets interrupted by balustrading in correspondence with the windows; the bill of sale of 1825 implies that these parapets masked dormer-windowed attics containing servants' bedrooms. The doorway in the central pavilion has a stone surround with Roman-Doric enrichments, a round archivolt, and a large scrolled keystone supporting a cornice.
The E. front (Plate 37) is similar to that on the W.except that the central pavilion does not project, and in the two principal storeys it has round-headed instead of segmental-headed openings; the piers between the windows are rusticated, bands of ashlar alternating with brickwork. The central doorway is approached by double flights of balustraded stone steps leading to a terrace. The attic storey is crowned by a balustrade, as before, with finials in the form of eagles. Pouncy's view shows these birds on pedestals flanking the W. doorway.
The S. elevation is of five bays (including the rounded corner bays). The three central bays are set between square pilasters and have capitals, entablatures and parapets as described above, but of Ham Hill instead of Chilmark stone. In the basement and lower main storey the brickwork is original; above first-floor level the brickwork of 1912 is less closely jointed and less regular in colour than the original work. Carved on the stone window heads of the lower main storey are the dates 1710, 1845, 1912. The N. elevation is similar to that on the S., with rebuilding of 1912 in the upper storey. The lower main storey appears to have been partly rebuilt during the 19th-century restorations.
Above roof level, masked by the parapets of 1912, the original N. and S. parapets are partly preserved. They are balustraded as on the E. and W. fronts and they return, at right-angles to those fronts, above the pilasters which divide the curved end bays from the flat part of the façades. The returning parapets are only one bay long finishing in brick piers. The interrupted mouldings of the coping suggest that the parapets continued straight through from E. to W.; a turn to bring them out to the plane of the N. and S. fronts cannot be ruled out, but the wall-thicknesses below argue against this. In any case the quadrant rooms, if not the whole of each end bay, must originally have been roofed at a level below the main entablature; the form of the roofs is unknown.
Inside the house, the basement storey, containing the kitchen and other service rooms, has brick vaulting throughout. On the ground floor, the West Hall has bolection-moulded panelling and architectural details of the Roman-Doric order, probably of c. 1846; the doorways here and in the E. hall have tympana with bas-reliefs reputedly by Alfred Stevens. In the two-storeyed East Hall (Plate 40) the original stairs are preserved; they are of oak and have turned balusters, three to each tread, and newel posts in the form of small fluted columns. The stairs rise in two flights to meet at a landing on the W., whence a single flight leads to a circular billiards room on the first floor above the W. hall (Plate 37). According to the 18th-century plan, another flight of stairs originally connected the E. side of the same landing with the gallery at first-floor level on the E. side of the hall. The sale-bill of 1825 records that 'the sides are painted to resemble a rich cornice, frieze and fluted pilasters dividing the panels', but no trace remains of this decoration. The first-floor galleries on the N. and S. of the hall are of c. 1846.
The passage between the E. and W. halls is flanked by circular stone staircases which rise from the basement to the attics. In the S. staircase the stone stairs and iron handrails are preserved; those on the N. were removed c. 1846.
The large Drawing Room was formed by removing a main cross-wall in the original plan and resiting other walls; it has a mid 19th-century marble fireplace surround with caryatid pilasters. According to a tradition in the Castleman family the wall paintings were executed by Alfred Stevens's father. Generally, except for the stairs, the fittings and embellishments throughout the house are of the mid 19th century.
(3) Chettle Lodge (95021354), of two and three storeys with attics, has walls partly of ashlar and partly rendered, and slate-covered roofs. It appears to be of the 18th century, with 19th-century additions, but a thick wall inside suggests that an earlier building is incorporated. The western part of the N. range has a symmetrical N. front of three bays, with a central doorway now enclosed in a 19th-century porch, and with sashed windows in the two main storeys; a third storey takes the place of a former attic. Adjacent on the E. is a 19th-century extension. The S. range is wholly of the 19th century, as are the domestic offices on the W. Inside, the hall in the original range has an 18th-century oak staircase with details closely resembling those of the main staircase at Chettle House (2). Reset as finials on the newel-posts are three carved wood figures, probably of the 16th century. The small room on the W. of the hall has a stop-chamfered beam. The dining-room in the S. range has 17th-century panelling brought from elsewhere, including an overmantel of three panels with strapwork decoration, caryatid pilasters and a figure, perhaps of Justice; the panelling is made up with modern work. The doors and window shutters comprise some 16th-century oak panels with arabesques and medallions, made up with modern work.
(4) St Mary's Farm (95201330), house, of two storeys with attics, with brick walls and tiled roofs, is of the 17th century; a single-storeyed extension on the N.E. is of the 18th century. Inside, the stairs from the first floor to the attics are of oak, with closed strings, square newel-posts, moulded handrails, and flat balusters of serpentine profile.
(7) Cottages (95131355), two adjacent, are single-storeyed with dormer-windowed attics and have walls of rubble and brick, and thatched roofs; they are of the late 17th century. Inside, there are chamfered beams and plank-and-muntin partitions.
(10) Cottage (95181350), single-storeyed with an attic, was originally two tenements. It has rendered walls and a thatched roof and is of the 17th century. Inside, one room has a chamfered beam with beaded stops.
(11) Cottage (95211338), of one storey with an attic, has walls of rubble, flint and brickwork, and a thatched roof; it is of the late 17th or early 18th century. Adjacent on the N. is an outbuilding of similar materials to the cottage and probably contemporary. A Barn, further N., has weather-boarded walls and a thatched roof and may be of the late 18th century.
Roman and Prehistoric
(14) Iron Age and Roman Occupation Debris, the remains of a settlement which now has been largely flattened by cultivation, occur over an area of 5 acres on Chettle Down (Plate 35). The site (94501490) occupies a S.-facing Chalk slope, about 330 ft. above sea-level, within an area of 'Celtic' fields. Finds made at various times, including material from trial trenches cut across an earthwork thought to be a pond, include a La Tène III bronze brooch, Durotrigian pottery, samian ware, and New Forest and other coarse pottery (Dorset Procs., LI (1929), 194– 203; 82 (1960), 83).
(15) Chettle Long Barrow (93741355), on the boundary with Tarrant Gunville, lies on a gentle E.-facing slope at 375 ft. above sea-level. The mound is orientated S.E.—N.W. and is 190 ft. long, 65 ft. wide and 9 ft. high. An oval hollow, 165 ft. by 48 ft. by 2 ft. deep, in an arable field along the N.E. side of the mound, probably represents a side ditch; a shallower hollow is just visible along the S.W. side. Numerous human bones were found when part of the barrow was removed to make a grotto some time before 1767. (C.T.D., Pt. 3, p. 1; Dorset Procs., XXI (1900), 144.)
(16) Long Barrow (95061280), S. of Chettle House, lies at the top of a gentle S.E.—facing slope on a low spur at 275 ft. above sea-level. The mound is orientated E.N.E.—W.S.W. and is 320 ft. long, 65 ft. wide and 8 ft. high. The W. end has been much reduced by ploughing and no side ditches are visible. When the barrow was opened, c. 1700, 'a great quantity of human bones were found, and with them heads of spears and other warlike instruments', possibly indicating pagan Saxon intrusive burials. A further secondary or intrusive burial was found in 1776. (C.T.D., Pt. 3, p. 2; Dorset Procs., XXI (1900), 144–5; Hutchins III, 567.)