An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 5, East. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
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5 EDMONDSHAM (0711)
The parish, covering 1,800 acres, occupies a narrow strip of land on the edge of the eastern heathland. The western third of the area is on Chalk, sloping down from over 300 ft. above O.D. in the N.W. to about 150 ft. in the S.E. The central third, on Reading Beds, is occupied by the valley of the Edmondsham Brook which flows S.E. to meet the R. Crane. To N. and S. of the brook and also E. of the Crane, an undulating and well-wooded area of London Clay lies between 130 ft. and 300 ft. above O.D. In the E. extremity of the parish Bagshot Beds give rise to heathland on Pistle Down. Until late in the 19th century land S. of the Edmondsham Brook was a detached part of Gussage All Saints. The village stands at the junction of the Reading Beds and the Chalk, near the source of the brook.
Edmondsham village (Medesham), the major settlement, is recorded in Domesday (V.C.H., Dorset iii, 68, 101) and it is likely that more than one of the farms dispersed in the E. of the parish were in existence by 1086 since Domesday has three distinct entries. Westworth Farm, at one time a possession of Bindon Abbey, may have been one of them, and Romford was possibly another.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, on the W. of the village, has walls of Heathstone rubble and flint, with ashlar dressings of Greensand and Heathstone; the roofs are tiled. That the Chancel and Nave are of early 12th-century origin is suggested by the former narrow round-headed chancel arch, removed in 1862 (Faculty Petition, Sarum Dioc. Regy.), and by the round head of a window of c. 1100 reused as building material in the N. wall of the aisle. A North Aisle was added late in the 12th century, and towards the end of the 14th century it was widened and extended east-wards. The Tower was built at the W. end of the aisle early in the 15th century. In 1862 the church was extensively restored. The E. wall of the nave was wholly rebuilt and a new chancel arch was formed; a new S. doorway was formed in the nave and the N. porch was taken down and rebuilt on the S.; the E. wall of the N. aisle also was rebuilt.
Architectural Description—The Chancel has windows, chancel-arch and S. doorway of 1862. The N. arch, of 14th-century origin but extensively restored, is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; it springs from chamfered imposts on responds chamfered to correspond with the arch. The N. arcade of the Nave is of the late 12th century; the ashlar pier and responds have chamfered arrises and plain chamfered imposts; the chamfered two-centred arches are rendered. The S. wall appears to have been rebuilt in the 15th century; the eastern window, of three trefoil-headed lights under a square head with a label, is of 15th-century origin, but much restored. The S. doorway and the window adjacent to it on the W. are of 1862. The W. wall is of 1862.
The North Aisle has a modern E. window. Of the two N. windows, that on the E. is of the 15th century and has two trefoil-headed lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head under a reused 14th-century label with bishop and king head-stops. The western N. window is of the 16th century and has three trefoil-headed lights in a square head. The N. doorway has a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs; the head was renewed in 1862.
The North-West Tower is of three stages with a chamfered plinth, moulded and weathered string-courses, and a plain parapet with corner pinnacles. The two lower stages have square-set N. buttresses of three weathered stages. In plan the belfry stage is somewhat smaller than the lower stages. The tower arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders. The W. window is similar to that on the E. in the N. wall of the aisle, but with a 15th-century label. In the second stage is a N. window of one cinquefoil-headed light under a square label. A similar opening occurs in each side of the belfry stage.
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st by John Danton, with 'Prayse God, 1626, I.D., F.B.'; 2nd by Roger Purdue, 1674; 3rd by Clement Tosiear, 1702. Chest: plain oak, early 18th century. Coffin-Stool: of oak, late 17th century. Font: with gadrooned stone bowl and conical oak cover with ball finial, 18th century.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In N. aisle, (1) on N. wall, of Thomas Hussey, 1684, marble tablet with moulded surround and shield-of-arms of Hussey impaling Paulet. In churchyard, N. of aisle, (2) of John Willis, 1675, table-tomb. Floor-slabs: In N. aisle, reset against S., E. and N. walls, eight Purbeck marble slabs formerly associated with vault of the Hussey family—on S. wall, (1) of Thomas Hussey, 1684, with cartouche-of-arms of Hussey impaling Paulet; on E. wall, (2) of Thomas Hussey, 1745, with arms of Hussey impaling Sturt; (3) of John Fry Hussey, 1760, with arms of Hussey and Fry quarterly, impaling Abbis; (4) of John Fry Hussey, 1765, with arms of Hussey quartering Fry; (5) of William Bower, 1782, with arms of Bower with inescutcheon of Hussey quartering Fry; on N. wall, (6) of Robert Hussey, , with arms of Hussey with crescent for difference; (7) of John Fry, 1726, with arms of Fry impaling Hussey; (8) of Mrs. Philadelphia Fry Hussey, , with lozenge-of-arms of Fry quartering Hussey. In tower (9) of John Cunditt, 1668; (10) of Elizabeth Clark, 1739; (11) of Thomas Clark, 1683, and others of same family.
Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten of usual Elizabethan form with donor's inscription of Thomas Hussey, 1685; silver flagon (Plate 23) with assay marks of 1759; and plain stand-paten, perhaps late 17th century.
Royal Arms: painted on panel, of George III, 1788. Table of Decalogue: painted on two panels with two-centred heads and gilt borders, early 19th century. Miscellanea: In N. aisle, reset in N.E. corner, carved stone niche-head with three-sided canopy with angle shafts, crocketed finials and brattishing, soffit with vault ribbing, late 15th century. On tower, in N. parapet, lead gargoyle with lion mask, perhaps 18th century.
(4) Edmondsham House (06141160), of three storeys and a cellar, has rendered brick walls with stone dressings; the roofs are tiled. The date 1589 on the finials of the middle gable in the S.W. front probably records the completion of the main part of the house. The S.E. and N.W. wings were added early in the 18th century. During the 19th century the principal windows of the 16th-century façade were remodelled and the interior of the house was extensively altered.
The S.W. front (Plate 28) is rendered. At the centre, the symmetrical five-bay façade of the 16th-century house is three-storeyed, with a chamfered plinth and with moulded stringcourses between the storeys. The three projecting bays have curvilinear gables with ball finials. The central porch, of ashlar, has a round-headed opening with a panelled archivolt and jambs with moulded capitals; above is a carved stone cartouche-of-arms of Hussey, with mantling and scroll-work. The windows are of three and four square-headed casement lights, those of the two lower storeys transomed. The stone window surrounds have ogee mouldings and recessed fascias; the sides of the projecting lateral bays have panelled stonework in correspondence with the window lights. Flanking the 16th-century façade on the N.W. and S.E., the end walls of the 18th-century wings are two-storeyed, with curvilinear gables with vase finials, and with large sashed windows in each storey; those of the upper storey are round-headed. Recesses in the gables correspond with the third-storey windows of the original façade. The 18th-century openings have plain architraves, impost-blocks and keystones.
In the two-storeyed N.W. front (Plate 29), the three middle bays form a slightly projecting pavilion defined by a pediment and french quoins; the centre bay of the pavilion is emphasised by rustication; the tympanum has a blind lunette.
Inside, the 16th-century house has been much altered and its original plan is lost; the former N.E. outer wall is identifiable by its plinth. The staircase on the N.W. is of the 17th century, with stout oak newel-posts with ball finials, plain strings, moulded handrails and turned balusters. A smaller 17th-century staircase has a moulded close string and profiled flat balusters. The rooms were modernised in the 19th century (Hutchins III, 425) and contain no notable features.
(5) House (06201143), of two storeys with rendered walls and a tiled roof, has a date-stone of 1734. The E. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with a central porch with a round-headed opening and with casement windows. The plan is of class T.
(6) The Old Rectory (06351138), of two storeys with brick walls and tiled roofs, is mainly of c. 1900, but it incorporates an 18th-century W. range the walls of which are partly rendered and partly tile-hung. Inside, no original fittings remain.
(7) House (06401138), of two storeys with attics, has brick walls and a tiled roof. The N. elevation is of three bays, with square-headed windows with keystones, a brick plat-band and a brick dentil cornice. It is of the late 18th century.
(12) Romford Mill (07550950), house and corn mill, of two storeys with brick walls and slate-covered roofs, is of late 18th-century origin. The house, with a class-S plan, has an open fireplace with a cambered and chamfered bressummer and an oven. The mill retains a wooden water-wheel and some original machinery.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(14) Ponds (076115), in Mill Copse, lie in the valley of a stream which flows E. to the R. Crane. They cover 1½ acres and comprise three embanked rectangles, now dry, separated by cross-banks or dams which have been broken. The form suggests fish-ponds although the name of the copse implies that they were mill-ponds.
(16) Bell Barrow (04641160), now largely flattened by ploughing, lies 45 yds. N.E. of (15). When excavated in 1959 a single cremation burial was found in a grave cut into the Chalk, with the remains of a funeral pyre beside it. Associated with the burial were artefacts of Wessex Culture type, an ogival bronze dagger, a large perforated whetstone, and remains of bone tweezers and of a decorated bone pin (P.P.S., XXIX, n.s. (1963), 395–425). Diam. of mound 62 ft., width of berm 14 ft.; ditch 5 ft. across and 4 ft. deep.