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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2 CHALBURY (0106)
The parish, covering only 817 acres, is roughly triangular in outline with the R. Allen forming the W. side. From the river, at about 120 ft. above O.D., the land rises gently at first across the Chalk and then steeply to the summit of Chalbury Hill, a prominent wooded eminence on Reading Beds, 321 ft. above O.D. Further E. the land falls to about 230 ft. on London Clay. The parish formerly had a detached area of land some 3 miles S.E., now in Holt.
The original settlement at Didlington on the river bank is now almost deserted; the secondary settlement of Chalbury is almost certainly of pre-conquest origin (Fägersten, 78). The small size of Chalbury church shows that the settlement was never a large one. Cottages at the E. end of the parish reflect extension of settlement on the heathland late in the 18th and early in the 19th century.
(1) The Parish Church of All Saints stands on Chalbury Hill. The walls, partly refaced in brick and now largely rendered, are of flint and rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are partly tile-covered and partly stone-slated. The church, consisting of Chancel and Nave, appears to date from the 13th century. It was partly rebuilt in the 16th century and it was extensively repaired in 1702 (Churchwardens' Account Books); further repairs and refitting date from the second half of the 18th century. The North Vestry and South Porch are 18th-century additions. The interior (Plate 7) supplies a good example of 18th-century church furnishing.
Architectural Description—The Chancel has a 14th-century E. window of three gradated, ogee trefoil-headed lights. In the N. wall is a blocked 13th-century lancet with rebated jambs and head. In the S. wall are two elliptical-headed 18th-century windows with wide mediaeval internal splays and segmental-pointed rear-arches. The chancel arch, remodelled in the 18th century, has the form of a Palladian window, with slender wooden columns and pilasters supporting a shallow elliptical arch over the centre bay and cornices over the side bays.
The N. wall of the Nave is of the 16th century, with two windows, each of one light with a four-centred head and a moulded label with returned stops. In the S. wall are two plain round-headed 18th-century windows; in the W. wall is a round-headed 18th-century window with imposts and a key-stone. On the W. gable is a plain bell-cote with a tiled roof. The South Porch has an 18th-century archway with a semicircular head.
Fittings—Bell: one, by R. Wells, 18th century. Fonts: two; one with plain octagonal stone bowl on stem with trefoil-headed panels, 15th century, on reused 18th-century moulded marble column-base; the other with small stone bowl above moulded and gadrooned stem, 18th century. Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In churchyard, E. of church, of Richard Stagg, 1713, headstone. Floor-slabs: In chancel, (1) of Henry Dalicourt, 1708, and Lucy Duke, daughter of Henry Dalicourt, 1774. In nave, (2) of Alexander Arney, 1669. Niche: In chancel, recess with trefoil ogee head from former 14th-century window. Plate: includes two pewter alms-dishes, probably 18th century. Pulpit: of pine, polygonal, with panelled sides, moulded cornice and iron candlebrackets, 18th century. Seating: In chancel, on N., bench on raised platform with balustraded front and with pilasters supporting canopy, 18th century; in nave, panelled 18th-century pine box-pews incorporating some older oak panels.
(2) Didlington Farm (00560770), house, of two storeys with brick walls and tiled roofs, stands near the R. Allen, 1 mile N.W. of (1). The E. range appears to have been rebuilt towards the end of the 18th century, but the S. end of the range includes earlier masonry of brick and flint. Isaac Taylor drew the farm-house in c. 1770 (see (8)). The S. range was added in the 19th century. The fragments of a former chapel reported by Hutchins (III, 114) have disappeared. Inside, the house has no notable features.
An 18th-century Barn some 20 yds. S.W. of the house has weather-boarded timber walls above brick plinths, and a tiled roof with collared tie-beam trusses. Two cart doorways in the E. side of the barn have opposed exits in projecting bays on the west.
(3) Chalbury Hill House (01800688), formerly the rectory, is of two storeys with brick walls, partly rendered, and with slated and tiled roofs. The main part of the house, on the S.E., dates from the first half of the 19th century; it has rendered walls, large sashed windows symmetrically disposed, wide eaves and a slate-covered roof of shallow pitch. The service range on the N.W. is of 18th-century origin and has brick walls, casement windows and a tiled roof.
(4) 'Telegraph Cottage' (01770697), demolished in 1969, was single-storeyed, with weather-boarded timber walls and slate-covered roofs (Plate 31). The cottage was built early in the 19th century for a station serving the semaphore telegraph between London, Portsmouth and Plymouth. The stout construction of the roof indicates that the timbers formerly supported the framework of the semaphore shutters, as illustrated in a contemporary drawing of another station in the same system (Dorset Procs., XI (1890), 135). The S. half of the building was heightened later in the 19th century.
(5) Cottage (02580676), of one storey with attics, has brick and cob walls, and a thatched roof; it dates from the second half of the 18th century. Inside, the main room has a chamfered beam and an open fireplace with an oven adjacent.
(8) Settlement Remains of Didlington village (007077) lie N.E. of Didlington Farm on a terrace of the R. Allen. In Domesday, Dedilintone has a recorded population of 23 (V.C.H., Dorset iii, 83), but this certainly included people living at Chalbury; the combination in later documents of Chalbury population figures with those of Didlington makes estimate of population impossible. By c. 1770 only Didlington Farm remained (map and view by I. Taylor, B.M. maps, 2159 (25); D.C.R.O., 1930, 23, 8).
The somewhat indistinct earthworks cover about 5 acres and include a large rectangular platform, due E. of the farm. To the N.E. two rectangular closes, 20 yds. to 25 yds. square, are cut back into a gentle slope; they are bounded by low banks and scarps up to 4 ft. high, and one close appears to retain traces of building platforms. Pottery of the 14th or 15th century and later has been found in the area.