16 DURWESTON (8508)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 80 NE, ST 80 NW)
The parish of Durweston lies on the S.W. bank of
the R. Stour and covers some 1,800 acres, rising from
about 200 ft. above sea-level at the river to 600 ft. in
the W.; the land is entirely Chalk. Before 1381 there
were two parishes, Durweston and Knighton, and the
division between the two is probably represented by
the continuous line of field boundaries which bisects the
parish from N.E. to S.W. The reason for combining
the parishes is unknown, but it was certainly not due
to desertion, since both settlements are still well
populated. The present parish church was originally
that of Knighton; the remains of Durweston church
(Hutchins I, 266) are said to have existed near Durweston
Mill (6), and a few moulded stones still lie there. The
date of enclosure of the downland in the S.W. part of
the parish is unknown, but cottages at Shepherd's
Corner Farm indicate that this was done before the
middle of the 19th century.
The principal monument is the church tower.
Durweston, the Parish Church of St. Nicholas
(1) The Parish Church of St. Nicholas, standing
in the S. part of the village, was largely rebuilt in 1846,
the architect being P. C. Hardwick, and presents little
that is noteworthy apart from the 15th-century tower
and a few reused fragments from the old building. The
19th-century Chancel, Nave, S. Aisle and S. Porch are
faced with knapped flint chequered with blocks of
ashlar. The S. doorway incorporates a reused 15th-century four-centred arch (Plate 49) inscribed with the
epitaph of William Dounton, rector from 1442 to 1459,
and another stone with the date 1455. The pillars of the
nave arcade incorporate some mediaeval stones, and
some of the moulded octagonal capitals are probably
mediaeval although retooled.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (9½ ft. by 9 ft.)
is built of coursed Greensand ashlar; it has three stages between
the chamfered and moulded plinth and the embattled parapet
(Plate 9). The top of the lower stage is marked by a weathered
string-course and the upper stages have weathered and hollow-chamfered string-courses. The top string-course, at the base of
the parapet, has a gargoyle at the centre of each face; above
these and above the corners rise small crocketed pinnacles. The
corners of the tower have diagonal buttresses; that at the N.E.
corner springs from the roof of the vice a little below the top
stage and the other three are each of six stages; a rough round-headed recess is cut into the lowest stage of the S.W. buttress.
The rectangular vice turret is of two stages; its head is weathered
back to the N. wall of the tower just below the top stage. The
tower arch is two-centred and has two hollow-chamfered orders
which die into the wall at the springing; there are no responds.
The small doorway of the tower vice has a chamfered four-centred head and jambs. The W. doorway has a moulded four-centred head with continuous jambs and broach stops; the
weathered and hollow-chamfered label ends in square foliate
stops. The W. window, restored, has three cinquefoil lights and
vertical upper tracery, in a two-centred casement-moulded head,
and continuous jambs. The S. side of the tower is decorated
externally on the lower stage with a tall niche carved in lighter
and finer-grained Greensand. The projecting sill of the niche is
supported on a moulded corbel; on either side, a buttress-shaped
standard with a miniature corbel base continues up beyond the
springing of the niche-head to a crocketed finial; above is a
crocketed canopy, carved on the soffit to represent ribbed
vaulting with a floral boss; the back of the recess retains traces
of red pigment. In the second stage of the tower is another niche,
similar to the first but with an ogee head and septfoil cusping
in place of a canopy. A third niche, in the W. side of the second
stage, is better preserved; it has an ogee head with trefoil cusping
and sub-cusping. In the top stage, each face of the tower has a
belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights with a blind quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a concentric label; the lights are
fitted with pierced wooden shutters.
Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd, late 14th century, inscribed 'Sancta
Maria', others recast. Chests: In S. aisle, small iron-bound chest
with foliate escutcheon-plate and wrought iron handles, perhaps
Flemish, 17th century. In vestry, 17th-century oak chest, 4¼ ft.
long, with conventional leaf carving and moulded rails. Door: To
tower vice, of planks with wrought iron strap hinges, heavily
nail-studded, 16th century. Font: At W. end of S. aisle, with
square base of Purbeck marble with mouldings for a round
centre pedestal and four shafts, 12th century; stem modern;
basin completely re-worked but possibly original. Graffiti: In S.
arcade, incorporated in second column from E., inverted drum
stone with late 17th and early 18th-century scratchings; on W.
column, similar scratchings; presumably these stones survive
from mediaeval fabric. Over S. doorway, reset four-centred
chamfered arch with scratching of 1687 and several 18th-century
scratchings (see also Inscription). Image: In S. aisle, reset above
S. doorway, sculptured stone panel, 2 ft. high and with remains
of red pigment, supposed to represent St. Eloi, patron saint of
blacksmiths; discovered beneath E. window of old chancel
during 19th-century restorations (Hutchins I, 266); 15th century
(Plate 13). Inscription: On fascia of reset head of S. doorway,
black-letter inscription in raised letters 2 ins. high in recessed
concentric panel (Plate 49): "hic iacet sub tumilo downto will's
humanis Rector erat ville durwesto' okefordie natus" and on
W. impost of same doorway, in two horizontal lines of similar
lettering, "Smpt. anno dni. mill'o cccclv".
Monuments: In S. aisle, above arcade, (1) of William Burtt,
1824, sarcophagus-shaped tablet by Hiscock of Blandford; (2) of
Catherine Godwin, 1817, tablet by Hiscock; (3) of Thomas
Keeping, 1840, sarcophagus-shaped tablet by Simmonds; on S.
wall, (4) of Mary Ann Alford, 1839, tablet by Collins of Poole;
(5) of William Dansey, 1800, white marble tablet with arms;
on W. wall, (6) of Thomas Palmer, 1714, marble tablet in
pedimented stone frame with scrolled side pieces and foliate
apron. Plate: includes silver cup of 1837, paten of  and set
of cup, paten and flagon with hall-marks of 1764 and arms of
Portman impaling Fitch (Plate 43); although dates do not quite
agree this set is presumably the one noted by Nightingale (140)
at Bryanston. Sundial: On S. side of tower at belfry level, square
stone plate with incised radii and iron gnomon, probably 18th
(2) Bridge (86350863), over the R. Stour, is of
Greensand ashlar in three main spans, the central arch
being slightly higher than the others (Plate 51). Cutwaters at each end of the two piers are carried up to
form refuges in the parapets. The semicircular archivolts, of plain ashlar voussoirs, die into the piers at the
springing. Plat-bands mark the base of the parapet walls,
which have rounded copings. At each end of the bridge
the walls sweep out and terminate at ashlar piers. An
inscription on the parapet records the building of the
bridge by H. W. Portman in 1795, the architect being
(3) Knighton House (85920813) is a building of two storeys
with rendered walls, a low-pitched slated roof and sashed
windows. It was built about 1840 and is now a school.
(4) Cottage (85830846), 50 yds. S.W. of the church, is two-storied with a thatched roof and is of 17th-century origin. The
walls, of knapped flint with stone dressings in the lower storey,
include much repair in brickwork; part of the upper storey is
timber-framed, elsewhere it is of brick. One ground-floor
window on the N.E. side is of four lights with a chamfered and
hollow-chamfered stone head and mullions; it has leaded glazing.
The other windows are modern.
(5) House (85740884) is of two storeys with rendered walls
and a partly thatched roof. The S.W. range may be of the late
17th or early 18th century.
(6) Durweston Mill House (85930890), of the late 18th
century, is a two-storied English-bonded brick building with
attics in a slated roof. A service wing to the S.W. was added in
the 19th century. The symmetrical N.E. front has a central
doorway, one large sashed window on each side, three smaller
sashed windows on the first floor and two dormer windows above.
The stairs have turned and moulded newel posts and latticework balustrades. A cast lead pump-head with the initials
H.W.P. is dated 1776. Some moulded window stones in the
garden are said to have come from old Durweston Church.
(7) Knighton Farm House (85850858), 50 yds. N. of the
church, has as its nucleus a two-storied late 18th-century brick
house with slated roofs. It has a W. front of three bays, a central
front doorway and casement windows. A brick plat-band occurs
at first-floor level.
The following cottages have walls of brick, flint and
cob, often rendered, brick chimneystacks and thatched
roofs; they are mostly single-storied with dormerwindowed attics. They are of the 18th century.
(8) Cottage (85850864), 110 yds. N. of the church, has heavy
ashlar quoin stones in the S. corner, but these are now concealed
(9) Cottage adjoining the N.E. side of the foregoing and facing
S.E. is of the early 18th century.
(10) Cottages, row of four, face N.E., 40 yds. S. of the church.
The most northerly has three sashed windows on the first floor
and, on the ground floor, a door-hood which is supported on
reused wooden consoles with foliate carving.
(11) Cottage (85880865) is of the late 18th century with a later
extension to the W.
Buildings of the 19th century include the following—Durweston
Farm (85740870), a two-storied farmhouse with rendered walls
and tiled roofs; the original house, facing N.E., dates from about
1830; extensions to the N.W. and at the rear are of the middle
of the century. A House (85950864), is two-storied with rendered
walls and slated roofs. A Range of brick dwellings (85860869) is
of the mid 19th century and were probably tenements of the
Bryanston estate. The Dairy House (86090827) has as its nucleus a
small 19th-century brick cottage, symmetrically windowed and
perhaps originally a gate lodge of Bryanston House. Shepherd's
Corner Farm (83550789), 1½ m. W. of the church, is of banded
brick and flint with a tiled roof; it dates from c. 1840.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(12) Cultivation Remains. It is probable that
originally both Durweston and Knighton had separate
open fields, but by 1580 there was only one system for
both villages (map of Durweston c. 1580, copy in
D.C.R.O.); enclosure took place some time after 1580,
but before the 19th century.
E. and N. of Norton Wood (853089 and 849091) and S. of
Norton Lane (853086) are three blocks of contour strip lynchets
up to 400 yds. long and now ploughed down. To W. of Knighton
House (854081) on both sides of a dry valley are well-preserved
remains of fifteen contour and cross-contour strip lynchets, up to
250 yds. long. The upper three strip lynchets on the S. side of the
valley run up to the hill top and fan out; on the resulting wide
treads is ridge-and-furrow, 5 yds. to 7 yds. wide. The S.W. part
of this group overlies 'Celtic' fields (Group (60)). S.W. of Four
Acre Coppice (860074) are five fragmentary contour strip
Roman and Prehistoric
'Celtic' Fields, see p. 341, Group (60).
Barrows, two, W. of The Folly (842082) were opened by
J. H. Austen c. 1860, but there is now no trace of them. One
contained a central (? primary) inhumation surrounded by 'a
walling of large flints', and an empty cist at a higher level; the
other, a very small mound, contained only an empty cist, cut
4 ft. into the natural chalk (C.T.D., Pt. 2, Nos. 28 and 29).