16 KNIGHTON, WEST (7387)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 78 NW, bSY 79 SW)
The parish of West Knighton, 3½ m. E.S.E. of Dorchester, covers about 2,600 acres near the W. edge of the
S. Dorset heathland and is curiously irregular in shape.
It is bounded on the N. by the river Frome and stretches
S.W. across a broad area of Plateau Gravel giving rise
to an extensive flat heathland at about 200 ft. above O.D.
This in turn gives way to an area of Reading Beds on
which the village stands; beyond, the land rises gradually
on Chalk to the extreme E. end of the S. Dorset
Ridgeway at over 400 ft. above O.D.
The irregular shape of the parish is due to the combination of four earlier mediaeval settlements together
with their associated land blocks. The central part of the
parish belonged to the present village, the open fields of
which, finally enclosed in 1785, lay all round (Enclosure
Award in D.C.R.O.; see also Map of Manor of West
Knighton, 1742, D.C.R.O.); the village now includes
two farms of 17th-century origin.
The N. part of the parish belonged to the mediaeval
settlement of Lewell, or East Stafford, now represented
by Lower Lewell Farm (7) and Lewell Mill (8), situated
on a river terrace of the Frome. The long narrow
projection of the parish S.W. from the S.W. corner
was the land of Little Mayne (20), now reduced to a
single farm, while the similar S.W. projection from the
S.E. corner was the land of the settlement of Fryer
Mayne (19), now deserted except for the manor house
The church is the principal monument.
a(1) The Parish Church of St. Peter stands to the
S.W. of the village. The walls are mostly of stone
rubble with some flint, and the roofs are covered with
stone slates, lead and tiles. The church was built in the
12th century, but of this date only the E. wall and part
of the N. wall of the Nave remain, together with the
beginnings of the side walls of the chancel. Early in the
13th century the Chancel was rebuilt and slightly
widened towards the N., the nave was lengthened, a
South Aisle with its arcade was added and the lower part
of the West Tower was built. In the 14th century the
North Porch was added; it was subsequently rebuilt,
largely with the old materials. In the 15th century the
nave was heightened and large windows were inserted
in the N. wall; the nave walls were again heightened
before the 17th century when the W. part of the N. wall
was completely rebuilt. The upper part of the tower was
completed in the 15th century. In the 16th century the
E. part of the former S. aisle was enlarged to form the
present South Chapel and in the 18th century the W.
part of the aisle was destroyed and the W. arches of the
arcade were blocked. The church was restored, reputedly
under the supervision of Thomas Hardy, in 1893–4,
when, too, the Vestry was probably added.
The Parish Church of St. Peter
The church is of some interest for the involved archi
tectural history which typifies the piecemeal development of many English village churches.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 16 ft.)
has a plinth on the E. wall only. The E. window is probably
of 14th-century origin but mullions and tracery have been
removed. In the N. wall is a doorway with chamfered two-centred head and chamfered jambs and a single small lancet
window. In the S. wall is a modern doorway to the vestry.
The chancel arch has been rebuilt; it is stilted segmental, of one
chamfered order with chamfered imposts, and is flanked by
square-headed squints covered with modern plaster, perhaps
The Nave (40 ft. by 18 ft.) has at the E. end of the N. wall
a shallow 12th-century buttress; between this and the porch
the wall has been heightened, first above a weathered offset
and secondly above a moulded string. W. of the porch a
projecting base course finishing just W. of the window probably indicates the length of the 12th-century nave; the
junction between the 17th-century rebuilding of the N. wall
and the 13th-century W. wall is masked by a later buttress.
The doorway has a restored four-centred head. A 15th-century window to the E., of three lights with restored vertical
tracery, originally rose into a gable above the eaves of the nave
roof. A similar window to the W. is reset and extensively
restored. The S. arcade has four segmental pointed arches, of
two chamfered orders, carried on circular piers with moulded
capitals and chamfered bases. The W. respond has an attached
shaft with a moulded capital; the E. respond is similar but the
shaft is missing. The two W. arches are blocked and in the
blocking of one is a reset 16th-century window of three trefoiled lights in a square head.
The South Chapel (17 ft. by 14 ft.) has a N. arcade against the
nave arcade of two round arches springing from a chamfered
rectangular pier and responds with chamfered imposts. In the
E. wall is a 13th-century lancet window; in the S. wall is a
16th-century window of three uncusped two-centred lights
in a square head; the W. wall has been rebuilt in flint with a
13th-century lancet window reset. The West Tower (5¼ ft.
square) is divided externally into three stages by weathered
string-courses and has a plain parapet with moulded coping;
the upper part is faced internally with modern brickwork. In
the lower stage the E. wall has a two-centred arched doorway
to the nave; in the W. wall is a restored lancet window.
In the second stage there is in each wall a window of two
trefoiled lights with pierced spandrels in a square head. In the
E. wall is the weathering for a former steeper nave roof, before
the nave was heightened. The North Porch (6¼ ft. by 7½ ft.)
has an outer doorway with chamfered arched head and continuous jambs with a flat lintel behind the arch.
The Roof to the S. chapel has a flat ceiling, perhaps of the
18th century; the chancel and nave roofs are of 1893–4.
Fittings—Bell: one, by John Wallis, 1603. Brackets: In nave
in N.E. and S.E. corners, moulded stone brackets for rood
beam, one with roll moulding and carved palmette, the other
plain, 13th-century. Chests: in vestry, two small plain oak
chests, 31 ins. and 36 ins. long, late 18th or early 19th-century.
Graffito: on N. wall of nave by N.E. buttress, IOHN BOW
1.J.76. Monuments: In chancel—on S. wall, (1) to Elizabeth,
wife of Richard Warde, 1635, grey marble tablet on moulded
stone panel. In nave, (2) to John Adair Hawkins, 1842, and Jane
(Williams) his wife, 1863, shield-shaped black marble tablet
on grey ground. In churchyard—N.E. of porch, (3) to William
[Meer, 16]79, table-tomb carved with symbols of mortality;
N.W. of porch, (4) to John Trenchfild, 1688/9, table-tomb.
Paintings: in nave—high on E. wall, [Jahveh] within a rayed
triangle, early 18th-century; on S. wall over arcade and largely
concealed by monument (2), Lord's Prayer, c. 1800. Plate:
includes cup and cover paten of 1572, inscribed 1573; paten
of 1847, inscribed 1850. Tables of the Creed etc.: in chancel
and nave, on E. walls, four stone tablets with cinque-foiled
four-centred heads and in moulded frames, inscribed with
Lord's Prayer, Creed and Decalogue, all mid 19th-century.
Miscellanea: in nave on W. wall above gallery, lead from roof
cast with initials, names and dates of churchwardens, HS CW
1815, GEO. HOLDEN CHA. BOOLOCK CW 1744, LEVI GROVES
CHURCH WARDEN 1831.
a(2) Fryer Mayne, manor house (737865), two-storeyed, has
stone walls and tiled roofs. A mediaeval house of the Knights
Hospitallers stood on this site, but the present house was
probably built by John Williams soon after 1600. It probably
consisted of three ranges round a courtyard open to the W.,
but the E. and S. ranges were rebuilt in the second quarter of
the 19th century and the courtyard partly filled in. The N.
range has a central projection of which the lower part forms a
porch with original arched entrance; some of the stone-mullioned windows are also of the 17th century. The interior
is entirely modernised, but reset in the hall and in the yard
wall are 15th-century stone corbels carved with angels and
other stones carved with quatrefoils. In the garden wall are
the moulded arch and broken bowl of a late mediaeval piscina,
and other mediaeval worked stones reset to form an archway.
The site of a deserted mediaeval village (Monument 19) lies
to the N.W.
a(3) West Knighton Farm, house (40 yds. N.W.), is of two
storeys with brick walls and slated roof (Plate 44). Hutchins
(II, 498) records that 'the Richards's had a seat here built by
James Richards Esq.' in the late 17th century, and the existing
house is probably of that date although much altered. The
hung-sash windows, the slated roof and most of the internal
partitions and fittings are of the 19th century, so too is an
added wing to the E. The walls are built in English bond with a
first-floor plat-band; doorways and windows have segmental
arched heads. On plan, the house comprises an entrance hall
and staircase flanked by two heated rooms with a kitchen
beyond one of them, giving a long straight range divided
into four compartments.
a(4) Higher Lewell Farm, house (170 yds. E.S.E.), of two
storeys, has mainly tiled roofs with stone slates at the verges.
The original house was built with stone walls in the 17th
century, probably on a two-room plan with end chimneys.
Between 1760 and 1769 it was enlarged in brick by the addition of an entrance hall and a third room and heightened.
The initials and date RSP 176 are worked in the wall in blue
headers; the last figure of the date has been lost with the
insertion of a 19th-century bay window.
a(5) House (180 yds. N.N.E.), of two storeys with brickfaced walls and thatched roof, is dated 1719, but is probably
of 17th-century origin. The date, with initials LP MP, is
worked in vitrified headers on the E. front and repeated on a
stone in the S. chimney. The windows are fitted with early
19th-century cast-iron casements.
a(6) Lewell Lodge (732884) is of two storeys with cellars and
attics and has brick walls, mostly rendered in stucco, and
slated roofs. It was built c. 1796 by Adair Hawkins, an eminent
surgeon, (Hutchins II, 500) and was extended shortly afterwards by the addition of a wing to the N.E. Further minor
additions were made later. The house is designed on a straightforward rectangular Georgian plan with a central through hall
containing the staircase, and two rooms to each side. The
detail is Gothic. The porch has a two-centred arched entrance
and the windows are of two and three pointed lights under
square heads with labels. This Gothic detail is repeated in the
N.E. wing. Inside, the staircase has cusped tracery between the
balusters and there are stained glass shields-of-arms in two of
the windows; otherwise the fittings are in the ordinary
Classical style of the period and include some original decorated
a(7) Lower Lewell Farm (742896) is an interesting
group of buildings comprising farmhouse, dairy house,
cottages and barn (Plate 50).
House (a), of two storeys and attics with walls of squared
rubble and brick and a tiled roof with slates and stone slates
at the eaves, was built in the early 17th century and enlarged
in the early 18th century. The original part has stone walls
with a moulded string across the S. gable wall and windows
with hollow-chamfered mullions and dressings and moulded
labels; of these one survives on the ground floor, of two lights
now blocked, and one on the first floor, altered to take hung
sashes. The original plan consisted of a main range with a
chimney at each end and a small back wing. In the 18th
century the house was partly refronted and extended to
the N. in brickwork of Flemish bond with vitrified headers
similar to the brickwork of the barn dated 1704 (see below) and
probably of about the same date. The northward extension
provided a new kitchen on the ground floor and the original
part was remodelled with a new staircase in a central entrance
hall. The entrance porch was added at the same time. A 17th-century door-frame in the attics may be reset; the roof is
carried on tie and collar-beam trusses. Outbuildings: Cowshed,
S. of the house, with stone walls largely rebuilt in brick and a
thatched roof, is of early 17th-century origin and retains parts
of five jointed-cruck trusses of this date; it was enlarged to
the S. in the 18th century. Dairy House (b), W. of the house, of
two storeys with brick walls and a modern slated roof, is of
the early 18th century. Doorways and windows have segmental-arched heads and the first floor is marked by a plat-band.
The S. half of the building forms a dwelling with a two-room
plan and an original fireplace in the northern room. The
N. half is the dairy. Barn, S.W. of the house, is of brick
with a thatched roof and is dated 1704 with the initials IR in the
brickwork. It is of eleven bays of which the central one is
larger than the others and set between two porches. The bay
divisions are marked by two-stage buttresses and each bay is
lit by a narrow slit light which has been lengthened. The
E. porch is gabled, with a moulded coping to the gable
parapet, and has a plain brick label above the doors, the brickwork between the label and the door-head being rebuilt. The
W. porch has a hipped roof. The main roof is carried on
collar-beam trusses (Plate 53) and is half-hipped at each end.
Cottages, two, N. of the barn, are of the second half of the
19th century but incorporate some stone walling probably of
the early 17th century.
Lower Lewell Farm
b(8) Lewell Mill, on the S. bank of the river Frome
(738900), is a 16th-century building with rubble walls, which
comprised the mill itself and a miller's house attached; it has
been enlarged, partly rebuilt and partly refaced in Broadmayne
brick in the late 19th century and later; the whole now forms
The mill building is of two storeys, faced with brick and
entirely converted to domestic use. The mill wheel was in a
lower wheel-house projecting at the N. end. The miller's
house was an L-shaped building against the S. end of the mill,
with wings to W. and S.; the W. wing has a stone-built gable
end with a three-light window with hollow-chamfered
mullions and a label and other original windows now blocked.
The arrangement of the windows suggests that there was a
staircase in this wing.
The S. wing has been rebuilt. In the N.E. angle of the house
the ground-floor room has richly moulded beams dividing the
ceiling into twelve square panels each containing three joists
carrying boards running parallel with them.
The following monuments unless otherwise described are of one storey and attics or two storeys, with
walls of cob or stone and thatched roofs, and of the
late 18th or early 19th century.
a(9) Cottage (20 yds. E.) is built on a two-room plan
comprising living room and scullery, with an end chimney.
a(10) Cottages, seven (70 yds. E.), with modern corrugated
iron roofs, were originally built as a range of five cottages
which has been extended at both ends.
a(11) Cottages, four (70 yds. N.E.), on W. side of road,
originated with the two middle cottages built as one dwelling,
perhaps c. 1700.
a(12) Cottage (160 yds. N.N.E.), on E. side of road, dated
1803, has been refaced later in brick and a later cottage has
been added to the N. end. (Demolished)
a(13) Cottage (205 yds. N.N.E.), on E. side of road, has
been largely refaced in brick and the N. end wall rebuilt on
the demolition of an adjoining cottage.
a(14) The New Inn (250 yds. N.) has a tiled roof with stone
slates at the verges and incorporates in the lower parts of the
walls stonework which may be of earlier date.
a(15) Cottages, five, three N. of (14), on W. side of road,
and two opposite.
a(16) Cottages, a pair (745897).
a(17) Brake Cottage (748899) has rendered walls and
a(18) Cottage, at Little Mayne (723871), has the lower parts
of the walls of stone rubble with brick and cob above. There
is no evidence to support the suggestion that the stone walling
belongs to the former chapel of St. Stephen; the walls are only
19 ins. thick and therefore unlikely to be mediaeval. (See
Monument (20); Dorset Procs. LIX (1937), 29; Hutchins II,
503.) The Barn, S.W. of Little Mayne Farmhouse, originally of
rubble, was partly rebuilt in brick and re-roofed in the 19th
century. It has two gabled porches and flush doorways
opposite to them.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
West Knighton. (19) Fryer Mayne, deserted mediaeval village.
a(19) Fryer Mayne (Fig. p. 139), deserted mediaeval
village remains (735866), mostly destroyed in May
1963, lay about 1,200 yds. S.S.E. of the church in a
10 acre meadow bounded on the W. by the parish
boundary with Broadmayne. The settlement remains of
Broadmayne (18) lie just beyond. On the S.E. is the
drive leading to Fryer Mayne house (2) near which is
the site of a chapel described as 'slighted' in 1650.
Perhaps other features once connected with the old
village are concealed here. The history of the settlement
is difficult to determine since references to 'Mayne'
held by the Knights Hospitallers from the 13th century
could in some early cases refer equally well to Little
Mayne ((20) below) though a water-mill mentioned in
1338 was probably at Fryer Mayne. (Hutchins II, 500 ff.;
The site is on a gentle slope falling N.W. from about 190 ft.
to about 160 ft. above O.D. towards a small stream flowing
E. to join a tributary of the Frome. The subsoil is sand and
clay of the Reading Beds. When recorded, the earthworks
were relatively well preserved in spite of much quarrying on
the S.E. A well-defined hollow-way ran approximately W.
to E. through the settlement along relatively flat ground. Where
it entered the meadow at the W., continuing the line of the
parish boundary, its S. scarp was 8 ft. deep but elsewhere was
nearer 3 ft.; to the E. it faded out into a relatively level area.
Lining it to the S. for over 200 yds. was a virtually continuous
row of house sites and N. of it were others, fewer in number;
where there were no house sites the roadway was demarcated
by a bank up to 3 ft. high. The houses, defined by low banks
or scarps, varied in size from 12 ft. by 20 ft. to 35 ft. by 90 ft.
Those N. of the hollow-way were on platforms up to 3 ft.
high. To the S. the platforms were levelled back into the
natural slope. Immediately after being ploughed, the walls of
some houses showed clearly as spreads of cob, and there was
also stone rubble. Potsherds brought to the surface were
probably 14th-century, though there was much later debris in
the quarried area to the S.E. On the S.W., short low parallel
ridges, nowhere more than about 9 ins. high, seemed never to
have extended any further than when recorded; they were
most unlikely, therefore, to have been the remains of ploughing.
The closes running back from the house sites were bounded
by banks or scarps generally 2 ft. to 3 ft. high and varied in
size from about 1/9 acre to ¼ acre. The shallow linear depressions
which divided some of them might have marked ditches since
they did not seem to give access to the main hollow-way. The
pattern to the E., though broken by quarrying, suggested that a
different type of feature was represented. (R.A.F. V.A.P.
CPE/UK 1934: 1051–2.)
a(20) Little Mayne, settlement remains (723871), cover over
5 acres W., S.W. and N. of Little Mayne Farm from which the
ground falls gently to the S. and S.W. The bedrock N., S.
and E. of the farm is Upper Chalk but the farm itself and the
area immediately W. are on Reading Beds. Many large
sarsens of normal Reading Beds type are scattered about (see
p. 513). The first documentary reference to Little Mayne
(Parva Maene) seems to be in 1201–2, though 'Maine' is
found in Domesday Book. The name is plausibly linked with
the Welsh maen, 'a stone' (Fägersten, 154). Hutchins records a
free chapel of St. Stephen: its earliest recorded rector was
instituted in 1326 and the last in 1491; the living was a sinecure
(Hutchins II, 503; see also Monument 18). An estate map, now
in D.C.R.O., shows that in 1742 the boundary with the manor
of West Knighton ran N. along the hollow-way, described
below, from Little Mayne Farm.
Scarped closes lie N. of the farm around a well-marked
hollow-way, 2 ft. deep, running N. between low banks.
Small sarsen stones protrude from the crest and scarp on the
E. It could not be traced N. of the slight double bend in the
hedge which it meets at 72478729. Warne calls it a 'straight
avenue' and would link it with former stone circles, but it is
far more likely to be mediaeval (C. Warne, 'Illustrations of the
History of Dorset' (1847), 232 (MS. in D.C.M.); Dorset
Procs. LIX (1937), 28). (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1934: 1053–4.)
Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments
(21–24) Round Barrows, p. 445.
(25) Mound, p. 482.
(26–27) Roman Remains, p. 602.