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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13 IWERNE MINSTER (8614)
The parish, covering 2,865 acres, occupies a broad strip of land astride the Chalk escarpment. From the Fontmell Brook, which flows through the parish near the N.W. corner, the land rises gently eastwards across Lower Greensand, Gault and Upper Greensand to an altitude of 225 ft. before falling to the headwaters of the R. Iwerne. Further E. two large dry valleys cut deeply into the escarpment, which here is 300 ft. high, rising to more than 600 ft. above sea-level. Beyond the escarpment the land slopes gently down to a wooded area, part of Cranborne Chase. The parish formerly included the modern parishes of Handley, Hinton St. Mary, Margaret Marsh and East Orchard, all of which were parochial chapelries of Iwerne Minster.
There were two early settlements, Iwerne and Preston, both on the R. Iwerne; a third settlement, Hulle, may also have existed (Dorset Procs., 69 (1947), 45–50). Pegg's Farm on the Fontmell Brook, in existence early in the 14th century, is probably a secondary settlement.
Euneminstre, an old possession of Shaftesbury, was already a large settlement at the time of the Domesday survey, being assessed for 18 hides and having 16 ploughs (V.C.H., Dorset, iii, 82). The name suggests that it was an old minster served by a community of clergy.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary (Plate 49) has walls of flint and rubble with ashlar dressings, of banded flint and ashlar, and of ashlar; the roofs are stone-slated and tiled. The Nave, North Aisle and North Transept are of the mid 12th century; they appear to be parts of an important church, cruciform in its original plan and probably at first without a S. aisle, but with a transept opposite to that which in part survives on the N. The remains of a 12th-century structure in the angle between the nave and the former S. transept probably represent a former South Tower. Late in the 12th century the South Aisle was added on the W. of the presumed S. tower and early in the 13th century the N. transept was rebuilt. The present Chancel is of the 14th century, as are the West Tower, the S. and W. walls of the S. aisle, and the South Porch. In the 15th century the chancel arch was widened, and a spire was added to the W. tower. In the 16th century the nave was heightened and provided with clearstorey windows. In 1871 the church was restored by T. H. Wyatt and the N. Vestry was added.
Architectural Description—The E. window of the Chancel has a chamfered two-centred head and a two-centred rear-arch, both of the 14th century; the five lights and the curvilinear tracery are of the 19th century. In the N. wall is a 14th-century window of two trefoil-headed lights with a quatrefoil light above; the rear-arch has been rebuilt. Further W. in the N. wall, beyond the 19th-century vestry doorway, a squint from the N. transept is of uncertain date, perhaps modern. The opening to the N. transept (Plate 6) has two two-centred arches, each of two chamfered orders, the inner orders springing from moulded corbels with male and female heads, the outer orders continuous; at the centre the arches rest on an octagonal shaft with a moulded capital and a chamfered square base with broach stops. The arches are of the 14th century and replace an earlier opening, of which there remain the W. respond and the chamfered base of the E. respond, the latter now reused in the central pier. The S. side of the chancel is largely of 1889, but the two S. windows, uniform with that on the N., are restored and reset 14th-century openings. The chancel arch is of 14th-century origin, but altered and widened, probably in the 15th century; it is segmental-pointed, with a wave-moulded inner order springing from restored corbels, and with a continuous outer order chamfered on the W. side and hollow-chamfered on the E. In the gable above the chancel roof a 14th-century window similar to that on the N. of the chancel gives light to the nave.
The North Transept has a 19th-century E. window set high enough to clear the vestry roof; it is of three lights, with curvilinear tracery in a two-centred head. In the N. wall are two round-headed lights with wide splays and round-headed rear arches; they are probably of 12th-century origin, reset in the 13th century. The rear-arches spring from a central column with a Purbeck marble shaft, a stone base with hold-water mouldings, and a stone capital with stiff-leaf ornament (Plate 9). Internally, the N. and E. walls have a moulded string-course. The transept is entered from the N. aisle through a round-headed 12th-century archway of two plain orders springing from moulded imposts on chamfered responds.
The Nave (Plate 50) has a mid 12th-century N. arcade of three bays, with round arches of two plain orders, and piers and responds with stout cylindrical shafts, scalloped capitals (Plate 9), and moulded bases on high chamfered plinths. Above, the 16th-century clearstorey has two single-light windows with hollow-chamfered four-centred heads, wide splays and chamfered segmental rear-arches. In the S. arcade, the E. bay has an archway of 14th-century origin, with a two-centred head of two chamfered orders, but with the western arc distorted in the widening of the archway, probably in the 15th century. The inner order is continuous on the E. respond while on the W. respond it springs from a shaped corbel; the outer order dies into the E. respond, but continues as a chamfer on the western pier. The two western bays of the S. arcade are of the late 12th century and have two-centred arches, each of two stop-chamfered orders, springing from chamfered E. and W. responds with attached shafts and moulded capitals, and from a central pier with a cylindrical shaft, a plain bell-shaped capital and a moulded base on an octagonal plinth. Above, the clearstorey has two single-light windows with elliptical heads and segmental rear-arches. A third window has been blocked.
The North Aisle has single-stage buttresses with weathered heads and chamfered plinths. In the eastern bay is a late 14th-century window with two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a two-centred rear-arch. The middle bay has a late 15th-century window of five trefoil-headed lights under a chamfered square head. The western bay has a window with details similar to that of the eastern bay, but of one light. In the W. wall is a small 12th-century window with wide splays and a round rear-arch; the square head of the light is modern.
In the eastern part of the South Aisle the S. wall of the presumed South Tower was refaced in the 19th century and the window, of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights with curvilinear tracery in a two-centred head, appears to be of that period; on the other hand the lower part of the S. wall and the entire S.W. buttress, with broad chamfered plinths, are 12th-century work. On the W., the opening to the western part of the aisle is spanned by a half-arch, restored in the 19th century; its apex rests on the spandrel of the eastern arch of the S. arcade. Further W., the S. doorway, with a double roll-moulded two-centred head and continuous jambs, is of the early 14th century; the rear-arch is flat, with shouldered jambs. Adjacent on the W. is a square-headed 15th-century window of three trefoil-headed lights. The S.W. corner of the aisle has a diagonal buttress of two weathered stages.
The West Tower is of two stages defined by a weathered string-course; at the top is a corbel-table and an embattled parapet; at the base is a low chamfered plinth. The N.W. and S.W. corners have angle buttresses of four weathered stages; corresponding square-set buttresses rise above the W. walls of the N. and S. aisles. There is no vice. The tower arch is of three chamfered orders with continuous responds ending at broach stops above splayed plinths. In the lower stage the N. and S. walls have original windows of one trefoil-headed light with chamfered surrounds. The W. doorway has a moulded two-centred head with continuous jambs, and a moulded label with returned stops. In the upper part of the lower stage the E. wall of the tower has a doorway to a modern organ-loft; in the W. wall is a single-light window with a trefoil head and a chamfered surround. The upper stage has, in each side, a belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights with a central quatrefoil in a chamfered two-centred head. The octagonal spire has two bands of stonework with cusped panelling; the arrises have rollmouldings; at the apex is a moulded capstone and an iron weather-vane. Rebuilding of the spire in the 19th century has reduced the height and somewhat altered the profile.
The South Porch has a two-centred archway with a chamfered inner order dying into the responds, and a continuous chamfer on the outer order and jambs. Above is a plain parapet with a moulded string-course and coping. Inside are plain stone benches.
Fittings—Bells: six; 2nd by Abraham Bilbie, inscribed 'Mr Thomas Harvey & Mr John Applin wardens, 1768. My treble voice makes hearts reoice Abram Bilbie founder'; 3rd by John Wallis, inscribed 'Feare The Lorde, IW, 1609'; 4th inscribed in Lombardic letters 'huic ecclesie dedit mercia sit bona sub iesv nomina sona', early 14th century; 5th by John Wallis, inscribed 'Give laud to God, IW, 1618'; 6th by John Wallis, inscribed 'O be joyful in the Lord, IW, 1618'; 1st modern. Bracket: inserted in capital of eastern pier in N. nave arcade, with moulded edges and sunk panel on underside, probably mediaeval. Chests: of oak, one with beaded panel and lid, 18th century; another with moulded panels, decorated stiles, drawer below, 18th century. Clock: in belfry, c. 1750 with modern variable chiming mechanism. Communion table: of oak, with turned legs, beaded stretchers and moulded rails, 17th century. Font: octagonal, with slightly tapering sides, each with a quatrefoil, plain octagonal stem and hollow-chamfered base, 15th century. Glass: in S. window of chancel, by Willament, 1847. Graffito: on stone bench in porch, 'W.D. 1773'. Hatchments: three; on canvas, in wooden frames, with shields-of-arms of Bower quartering and impaling other coats, 19th century.
Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In S. aisle, on W. wall, of Robert Fry, 1684, his wife Mary (Cox) and others of their family; slate inscription panel in foliate stone surround above apron with drapery, skull, wreath and cherub-heads, also with scrolled cheek-pieces, cornice, and finial with cartouche containing arms of Fry (Plate 16). Floor-slabs: In nave, near S.E. corner, (1) of [John Ridout, 1764] and his wife Henrietta, 1730. In S. aisle, (2) of [Katherine, wife of] Francis Melmo [uth], 1718, and of Mrs. Bower, 1721; (3) of Thomas Bower, 1728, with worn shield-of-arms; (4) of John Bower, 1711; (5) of (undecipherable), with arms of Bower; (6) of R. . . Freke, 1655, stone slab with bold lettering.
Niche: In porch, over S. doorway, with roll-moulded and hollow-chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs, 14th century. Plate: includes Elizabethan silver cup by the 'Gillingham' silversmith (Dorset III, liii), with churchwardens' inscription probably of 1782, and cover-paten, probably 18th century; also set of silver cup, stand-paten and alms-dish, with date-marks of 1832 and donor's inscriptions of Rev. Christopher Nevill; also pewter dish and flagon, late 17th century.
Pulpit: of oak, with five sides, panelled in two heights (Plate 13), with fluted corner stiles, rails with guilloche and brattished enrichment, and panels with reticulate enrichment, mid 17th century; cornice and base modern. Recess: In N. aisle, in middle bay of N. wall, with chamfered four-centred head, late 15th century, restored. Royal Arms: of George III, on canvas in moulded wood frame (Plate 27). Sundial: on S.W. buttress of W. tower, scratch-dial, much worn, perhaps 16th century. Wall: bounding churchyard on S. and W., of banded flint and ashlar with weathered, roll-moulded coping, and in part with weathered ashlar buttresses; mediaeval. Miscellanea: In vestry, fragment of shaft capital, late 12th century; glazed slip-tiles, 14th and 15th century.
(2) Baptist Chapel (86641432), of one storey with rendered walls and tiled roofs, stands nearly 200 yds. S.W. of the church. According to an inscription it was built in 1810 and enlarged in 1860. The main part of the building has a round-headed doorway in the gabled E. wall and, above, a round-headed sashed window. The S. elevation has three windows similar to those described. At the corners of the building and between the windows are plain pilasters with moulded capitals; similar pilasters occur on the N. wall, but there are no windows. On the W. is an extension with lower walls than the main hall, but with pilasters and windows as described. Inside, a W. gallery with a panelled wooden front rests on two plain iron columns.
(3) West Lodge (89411573), on the N. boundary of the parish, is partly of one storey and partly of two, with cellars, and has brick walls, partly rendered, and slated and tiled roofs. The site is that of one of the ancient lodges of Cranborne Chase (W. Shipp, Chronicle of Cranborne, (Blandford 1841), 270), and a map of the Chase dated 1677, copying a map of 1618, shows a house in this position. Nothing seen above ground today, however, is likely to be of so early a date, although the cellars may perhaps be of the 17th century. The present building is of the first half of the 18th century, with early 19th-century single-storeyed wings on the S.W. and N.E., the latter incorporating part of a late 18th-century kitchen building.
The S.E. front (Plate 44) is symmetrical and of eleven bays, comprising a five-bay central pavilion of two storeys, flanked by single-storeyed three-bay wings. The three central bays of the façade are emphasised by a portico with stone three-quarter columns of the Tuscan order, supporting a timber entablature and pediment. Between the shafts the lower storey has three large sashed windows and the upper storey has three circular windows; a lunette window opens in the pediment. The flanking bays of the central pavilion have doorways with pedimented Tuscan surrounds in the lower storey, and sashed windows above. The extremities of the centre pavilion are defined by wooden pilasters, beyond which each single-storeyed wing has three large sashed windows. The last bay of the N.E. wing includes part of the two-storeyed kitchen wing, probably of the late 18th century and perhaps originally a separate building.
The N.W. front of the centre pavilion is of Flemish-bonded brickwork, with wooden cornices and pediment. At the centre is a wooden porch with a pedimental hood supported on Ionic columns and pilasters. The ground and first-floor windows of the three central bays are mullioned and transomed and of two lights, with wooden frames and 18th-century wrought iron casements with leaded glazing. At right-angles to the N.W. façade, the S.W. elevation of the projecting N.W. wing is of two storeys, with mullioned and transomed windows as before; presumably this is part of an original service building, but there have been many alterations and the original plan cannot be recovered.
Inside, the house was remodelled in the second half of the 19th century and few original features remain. Until quite recently the large central room was higher than at present, the circular windows opening into the upper part of the room, but a floor has now been inserted. The S.W. staircase has cast-iron balusters and newel-posts. In a corridor of the service wing, a plinth projecting from the N.E. wall of the central block shows that this wall was originally external.
(5) Pegg's Farm (851155), in the N.W. of the parish, comprises a farmhouse, a cottage, a water-mill and a barn. The House, two-storeyed with header-bonded brick walls and with tiled roofs with stone-slate verges, is of the 18th century; in the Salisbury Journal, 18 July 1774, it is advertised as new-built. The S. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with a central doorway and with wooden casement windows of two and three lights. The gabled E. and W. end walls culminate in brick chimneystacks.
The Barn, some 60 yds. E. of the house, has walls of rubble and of brick, and a thatched roof. The rubble occurs at the base of the walls in the N. part of the building and is probably of the 17th century; the brickwork represents 18th-century rebuilding. At intervals the walls are strengthened with brick buttresses. The roof rests on crude tie-beam trusses, strutted in some places, with rough hammer-beams below.
(6) Preston House (86411396), of two storeys with an attic, has walls of ashlar and of rubble, and a tiled roof. It dates from early in the 17th century, but was considerably altered late in the 19th century. In plan the house was originally L-shaped. The ashlar-faced S. front is symmetrical and of five bays, with a central doorway flanked by Tuscan columns supporting an open pedimental hood, and with uniform casement windows of two lights in both storeys of the lateral bays; above the doorway is a bull's-eye window. A weathered label over each casement window appears to be original, but the openings have been altered and enlarged. The other elevations are of rubble and contain some original casement windows with hollow-chamfered ashlar surrounds and weathered labels. An original doorway, now converted into a window, occurs in the N. wall of a small lean-to projection on the W.; it has a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs with moulded stops. Inside, the two ground-floor rooms of the S. range have 18th-century fireplace surrounds of carved wood. A first-floor room has an original stone fireplace surround with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs with run-out stops.
(7) 'The Chantry' (86791441), house, 50 yds. S.W. of (1), is of three storeys with attics and has walls of banded flint and ashlar, with chamfered plinths and ashlar dressings, and stone-slated roofs. The house dates from the first half of the 17th century.
The S. front is of three bays, that in the centre projecting and gabled (Plate 52). The central doorway has a moulded square-headed surround with a label. The windows are of two and of three square-headed casement lights with hollow-chamfered stone jambs and mullions, and moulded labels with returned stops. The first-floor window in the W. bay, however, has been enlarged and has sliding sashes, probably of the 18th century. The central brick chimney-stack with two diagonally set flues appears to be original; the similar chimney-stack on the E. gable is modern, but it replaces a plain square stack which probably was added in the 18th century. The gabled E. elevation has a blocked doorway at first-floor level and a small attic window in the brick gable. To the N. the ground floor is below ground level, and the lower windows in the two-storeyed elevation are those of the first-floor rooms; the elevation is of two bays, with stone windows of four square-headed lights. The W. elevation is masked by the adjoining house (8).
Inside, the centre bay of the S. front contains an original oak staircase with closed strings, turned and enriched newel posts, turned balusters and moulded handrails. The two first-floor rooms (see plan) have 17th-century stone fireplace surrounds, with chamfered four-centred heads and continuous jambs with shaped stops; that on the E., served by an 18th-century chimney, is presumably reset. In the original plan, it is probable that the W. room on the first floor was the hall and that on the E. was the parlour; the lower storey, lit only from the S., presumably contained the service rooms.
(8) Bay House, adjacent to the foregoing on the W., is of two storeys, with brick walls and tiled roofs; the greater part of the building is of the late 19th century, but it incorporates early features and evidently replaces an earlier house. Projecting at the E. end of the N. front is a stone porch in which the plinth is continuous with that of the N. wall of 'The Chantry'; over the porch is a chamber with timber-framed walls. Projecting northwards at the W. end of the same front is a two-storeyed wing with walls of flint and rubble in the lower storey, and of timber-framework above; the upper storey is jettied and gabled on the N., the gable having cusped bargeboards, probably of c. 1500.
(10) Brookman's Farm (86981434), house, is single-storeyed with attics and has walls of rubble with brick dressings, and thatched roofs; it is of 18th-century origin with 19th-century additions. The S. range is symmetrical and of two bays with a central doorway. There is a large brick chimneybreast with stepped and weathered offsets on the gabled N. wall of the N. wing.
(11) The Vicarage (86931438), of two storeys with attics, has walls of ashlar and of coursed rubble, and tiled roofs. It was built in 1836. The windows have stone mullions, transoms and labels, and the porch has a chamfered round-headed doorway.
(12) Barn (86711462), at Churchill's Farm, with walls of ashlar, coursed rubble and clunch, and with stone-slated roofs, is of the 17th century. The walls have ashlar buttresses generally of two and of three stages, with chamfered plinths and weathered offsets. The S. end has two-stage diagonal corner buttresses and, at the centre of the gable, a square-set buttress of five stages.
(13) Cottage (86571451), of one storey with attics, has walls of brick, rubble and cob, and a thatched roof; it is of 17th-century origin. Inside, two stop-chamfered beams are exposed, and an open fireplace has a chamfered and cambered oak bressummer.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(14) Cultivation Remains. The last fragments of the former open fields of Iwerne Minster, then divided into two fields known as Town and Poly Fields, were enclosed in 1848 (Enclosure Map and Award, D.C.R.O.); they lay respectively N.E., and S. of the village. The strip lynchets on both sides of Brookman's Valley (around 876142) lay within old enclosures. Strip lynchets on the N. side of Preston Hill (868136) are the remains of cultivation associated with the mediaeval settlement of Preston.
Roman and Prehistoric
(15) Iron Age Settlement and Roman Villa (856137), near Park House Farm Buildings, were excavated in 1897 by General Pitt-Rivers. The site is on Upper Greensand, about 230 ft. above sea-level, on a gentle rise in the low-lying ground at the headwaters of the R. Iwerne; from S. and E. it is over-looked by the higher ground of the escarpment.
The Iron Age settlement is represented by numerous pits. From it came Durotrigian silver coins, a La Tène I bronze brooch, a bronze belt-link, and a bone weaving comb. In early Roman times the settlement was modified by the digging of ditches and sub-rectangular pits; finds of this period included coins from Vespasian to Commodus, brooches, and samian pottery of the 1st and 2nd centuries. No house-site was found, but there were suggestions that the centre of occupation lay N.W. of the excavated area.
During the 3rd century a building, nearly rectangular in plan, 112 ft. by 39 ft., with flint footings 3 ft. wide, occupied the western part of the site. The N.E. end of the building was divided into three rooms, 8 ft. in length and respectively 7 ft., 13 ft. and 8 ft. in width. The entrance was probably on the N.E., where post-holes for a porch were found. The rest of the building, with a pit or post-hole at the centre measuring 8 ft. by 2½ ft. by 6 ft. deep, was partly flint-paved; it has been suggested that it was an aisled barn, although no holes or bases for aisle-posts were noted. Coins ranging in date from Gordian I to Tacitus were found in or near the building.
Lastly, c. A.D. 300, a substantial building was erected on an oblong site levelled into the rising ground on the E., some 25 ft. away from the building described above; it measures 126 ft. by 18 ft. and the walls, of flint rubble, 2½ ft. to 3½ ft. in thickness, remain standing in places to a height of 6 ft. (Plate 48). The main range is divided into four compartments, and a fifth room, 16 ft. square, projects from the N.W. side. A corridor or out-building lay along the S.E. side. The compartment at the N.E. end, 15 ft. long, may have been a porch. The adjacent room, 64 ft. long, was probably a cattle-shed since a stone-filled drain 2 ft. wide extended down the centre of the range from a point 28 ft. from the S.W. end of the room; a quern was found in situ near the middle of the western part of the room. Next on the S.W. is a room 27 ft. long, roughly paved, and communicating by axial doorways 2 ft. wide with the rooms to N.E. and S.W. The S.W. room is paved with small slabs of Kimmeridge shale and its walls, except on the N.E., are lined with plaster, painted with rectangular panels above a broad dado-line. The fifth room, on the N.W., has doubled walls, the inner of which, only 4 ft. high, probably carried a floor; this is likely to have been a granary. Coins ranging from Maximian to Decentius and New Forest ware and coarse pottery, found during the excavations, indicate occupation of the building until c. A.D. 360. (Arch. J., CIV (1947), 50–62. Finds and models in Farnham Museum, Dorset. Photographs in D.C.M.)
All the barrows lie on high ground in the E. of the parish, four of them composing a group on Iwerne Hill. A small barrow was destroyed in 1846 during the ploughing of the high downland between Iwerne Hill and West Lodge; on its floor was an inverted urn covered by a quantity of black ash and surrounded by six cremations in cists cut in the Chalk; its exact location is not known. (Hutchins III, 555; C.T.D, Pt. 2, no. 4; Dorset Procs., L (1928), 121; Warne, MS. album in D.C.M., 209.)
(16) Folly Barrow (88561563), bowl, about 600 ft. above O.D. on Bareden Down, on a southward-facing slope, lies just below the crest of the escarpment. It is in a small wood and is thickly overgrown. Diameter 50 ft., height 5½ ft.; ditch 9 ft. across and 1 ft. deep.