17 FIFEHEAD NEVILLE (7610)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 70 NE, ST 71 SE)
The irregularly shaped parish covers 1,350 acres,
undulating between 200 ft. and 300 ft. above sea-level.
The land is drained by the R. Divelish in the E. and
by a minor tributary of the R. Lydden in the W.
Most of the parish is on Corallian Beds but there is a
narrow strip of Kimmeridge Clay in the E. and S.E.,
and an area of Oxford Clay in the W. around Deadmoor Common. Until 1920 the parish was divided into
two distinct parts, each with its own settlement; to
the N. was Fifehead Neville, and to the S. was Lower
Fifehead or Fifehead St. Quentin, a detached part of
the former parish of Belchalwell. Each village presumably had its own mediaeval open fields. Woodrow,
a later settlement on the edge of Deadmoor Common,
is first recorded in the 14th century.
The most important monument in the parish is an
extensive Roman Villa and its outbuildings.
(1) The Parish Church of All Saints, in the N.
part of the village, has walls of rubble with ashlar
dressings in local limestone and Greensand; the roofs
are tiled. The 14th-century chancel arch indicates a
Chancel and a Nave of that date. The North Aisle was
added in c. 1500, and in 1736 new windows were inserted
in the S. wall of the nave and in the N. wall of the
aisle; the Porch also is of 1736. A former W. tower was
demolished and the tower arch was blocked up,
probably in the same year. The chancel was rebuilt in
Architectural Description—Above the apex of the 19th-century three-light E. window of the Chancel is a reset label-stop
in the form of a bishop's head, probably a Gothic-revival work
of the 18th century but of unknown provenance; above is the
date stone of the 1873 reconstruction. Of the two windows in
the N. wall, the W. includes elements of another 18th-century
Gothic window; as restored it has two trefoil-headed lights and
a central quatrefoil; over these is a hollow-chamfered label with
head-stops representing a king and a bishop. The S. wall is
entirely of 1873. The 14th-century chancel arch is two-centred
and has two continuous chamfered orders; parts of both responds
have been cut away on the W. side.
The Nave (27 ft. by 15 ft.) has a N. arcade of c. 1500, of three
two-centred arches, each of two orders, the inner wave-moulded
and the outer hollow-chamfered; these spring from moulded
hollow-chamfered capitals enriched on the chamfer with leaf
paterae and lozenges. The columns comprise four attached shafts
and four hollow-chamfers. The E. respond is similar except that
the capital is embellished with an angel, partly defaced; the W.
respond has a corbelled shaft with a polygonal capital. The S.
wall is of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings; at the S.E. corner
is a two-stage buttress of c. 1500. On each side of the S. doorway
is a round-headed 18th-century window with plain jambs and
archivolt, projecting impost blocks and keystone; the leaded
panes retain much original glass. The S. doorway, of c. 1500, has
a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs; a large
horizontal stone with faint traces of eliminated decoration,
possibly a former cross-shaft, is built into the wall about 1 ft.
above it. A weathered buttress of five stages at the S.W. corner
of the nave is of the 18th century. The W. wall of the nave is
rendered inside and out but shows traces of a blocked opening,
which is presumably the arch of a former tower. The W. gable
culminates in a small 18th or 19th-century bell-cote with one
bell. The N. wall of the North Aisle (9 ft. wide) has two round-headed windows uniform with those of the nave. In the S.E.
corner of the aisle, about 5 ft. above the floor, is a disused rood-loft doorway with a chamfered four-centred head. The South
Porch (5½ ft. by 4½ ft.) has a square-headed ashlar opening with
a keystone on which is carved the date 1736.
Fifehead Neville, the Parish Church of All Saints
Fittings—Benefactor's Table: On W. wall, slate tablet in
moulded stone surround recording benefaction of Roger
Goodfellow, 1730. Communion Rails: with turned oak balusters,
moulded rail and concealed centre gate, late 17th century.
Door: In S. doorway, of oak, with vertical outside boards
fastened with iron studs to horizontal inner boards; with iron
strap hinges, early 16th century. Font: octagonal bowl of grey
Purbeck stone chamfered underneath and resting on a pedestal
of Greensand, square at base and octagonal above, with carved
stops; 14th century, bowl retooled. Glass: Reset in tracery of
E. window, quarry with date 1464.
Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In nave, on S. wall,
(1) of William Salkeld, 1715, draped cartouche with Latin
inscription and arms of Salkeld, with inescutcheon of Ryves;
(2) of William Salkeld, 1782, marble tablet. In N. aisle, on N.
wall, (3) of Robert Ryves, 1658, Anne Ryves, 1672, and their
son Robert, 1673, marble tablet in painted clunch surround with
arms of Ryves, erected c. 1673 (Plate 33); (4) probably of a
member of the Rawles family and of the 17th century, illegible
clunch tablet with pilasters, mask and strapwork decoration.
In churchyard, N. of N. aisle, (5) mausoleum of Brune family
in form of large table-tomb with inscriptions from 1707 to
1760, and arms of Brune impaling several others. Floor-slabs:
In N. aisle, (1) of William Harbin, 1678; (2) of an infant son
of John and Mary Ryves, 1681. Panelling: Nave and aisle lined
to level of window-sills with 18th-century fielded oak panelling,
probably reset woodwork of former box pews. Plate: includes
silver cup and cover-paten of usual Elizabethan form with
date-letter for 1571; also two pewter alms-dishes, 18th century.
Pulpit: with fielded oak panels and moulded cornice and ledge,
(2) Footbridge (77181114), over the river Divelish, is
probably mediaeval although much restored; it is of coursed
rubble, 6 ft. wide, and spans 34 ft. The two pointed arches,
practically straight-sided, rest on a central pier with a cutwater on the upstream side only (Plate 51). The kerb is of rubble
stones set on edge.
(3) The Manor House, a few paces W. of the church, is
two-storied, with rendered walls and slated roofs. It dates from
the late 17th century but has been much altered and retains few
features that are earlier than the 19th century. Some 18th-century
wrought-iron casement-windows occur in the E. wall of the
kitchen wing, and the dining-room contains a late 17th-century
moulded and beaded plank-and-muntin partition. The Stables
are of the late 18th century. A Roman Column set up in the
garden is described below; see Monument (13).
(4) Lower Fifehead Farm (77291040), house, ½ m. S. of (2),
is two-storied and of coursed rubble with slated roofs. The L-shaped plan incorporates a nucleus which appears to be of the
late 16th or early 17th century. The N.W. front has, on the
ground floor, a hollow-chamfered stone mullioned window of
four lights with four-centred heads in an ogee-moulded surround
with a moulded label. The first floor has two similar windows
of three-centred lights below cable-moulded labels; another such
window occurs on the ground floor of the S.E. front. All other
windows and doorways are modern. Internally there are some
stop-chamfered ceiling beams. The adjacent farm buildings are
of the early 19th century and include a weather-boarded Granary
on staddle stones and a rubble Cowshed with lunette windows.
(5) House (77171019), is now two-storied with rendered
rubble walls, modern openings and a modern tiled roof, but it
was until recently single-storied with attics. The plan comprises
three rooms, perhaps originally with a through-passage. Stonemullioned window frames and other 17th-century features were
(6) Fifehead Farm, house, 50 yds. E. of the church, has a
late 17th or early 18th-century nucleus consisting of a singlestoried rubble cottage of two rooms; it was extended W. in the
later 19th century.
(7) Cottage, 90 yds. S.S.E. of the church, of one storey with
rubble walls and dormer-windowed attics in a modern tiled
roof, is of the late 17th or early 18th century.
The following 18th and 19th-century buildings have
rubble walls and are of two storeys, or of one storey
with dormer-windowed attics; (8) has a tiled roof, the
others are thatched.
(8) Fifehead Mill stands 100 yds. S.W. of (2). The mill-house
dates from the early 18th century and has modern brick additions.
The water mill, of rubble with an iron roof, now contains a
(9) Cottages, three, 30 yds. W. of (8), are now a single house.
The middle tenement is of the 18th century and the two end ones
are of the 19th century.
(10) Cottage (75961084), is of the 18th century. A room lies
on each side of the central entrance passage and the chimneys
are in the end walls.
(11) Cottages (75991090), two adjacent, are of the late 18th
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(12) Cultivation Remains. Nothing is known of the date
of enclosure of the two former open field systems within the
present parish. Traces of ridge-and-furrow, arranged in curving
furlongs and corresponding neither with the existing nor with
the Tithe Map field boundaries, can be seen on air photographs
(R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974; 2179–84 and 3178–81); they lie S. of
Lower Fifehead (774096). Ridge-and-furrow exists in old closes
W. of the Manor House (765110); the ridges are 6 yds. to 8 yds.
wide, with headlands 9 yds. wide.
Roman and Prehistoric
(13) Roman Villa. A mosaic pavement was found
in 1881 about 90 ft. E. of the R. Divelish, N. of
Fifehead Mill (77281121). It lay on Corallian limestone
some 210 ft. above O.D. In 1902–5 this pavement was
re-excavated, two more mosaics were exposed and a
further wing of an extensive building was traced.
The wing containing the mosaics was orientated E. to W. and
measured over 120 ft. by 50 ft., with rooms projecting to the S.
at both ends. (fn. 1) The E. and W. extremities were apparently not
fully cleared and the building probably continued further to the
W. There appears to have been a range of five or more large
rooms with corridors to the N. and S.; that to the S. was
divided by three cross-walls and was 9 ft. wide.
At the W. end, the floor found in 1881 occupied a room
measuring 13 ft. by 12 ft. The design (Plate 133) consisted of a
two-handled chalice set in a circle within two concentric borders,
the inner containing seven fish and the outer, wider band, four
dolphins. The circle and borders were set in a square and the
four triangular spaces at the corners were filled with patterns of
stylised leaves. At the N. and S. were strips of dentil pattern and
the whole was surrounded by a border of crowstep pattern in red
and white within a plain edging of blue-grey tesserae. The
colours of the main panel were red, brown and blue-grey on a
To the S. of this room was a rectangular plunge bath (9 ft. by
4 ft.) with sides of red cement and a bottom of large tiles. In it
was found the limestone column which is now set up at the
Manor House (3); it is 5 ft. 1½ ins. long, including the moulded
capital and base (Plate 133). There was a lead outlet pipe 2¾ ins.
in diameter at the bottom of the bath. To the W. of the first
room were the pilae of a hypocaust system which had supported
a white mosaic floor. A large column base was found in position
some distance away.
(13) Roman Villa at Fifehead Neville
after plan in Digby Estate Office
The principal discoveries of 1902–5 were made at the E. end
of the same block. The mosaic floor of a room 19½ ft. square had
a design consisting of a central roundel containing a female
bust with a staff or spear, surrounded by geometric designs
(Plate 133). Some tesserae were of Kimmeridge shale. There was
evidence for a concrete floor under the pavement, possibly of an
To the E. of this room another of similar size was reached
through an opening 12 ft. wide. Only fragments of the mosaic
pavement remained, including a circle with a palmette star and
a border with a double pelta pattern, both designs being in red
on white. A room to the S. measured 19 ft. by 17 ft. and its
damaged mosaic floor, with a design of 'heads in a circle', was
carried on a hypocaust with five channels radiating from the
centre, four running to the angles of the room and the fifth to a
stokehole in the E. wall.
To the S.E. of the main block, a building 160 ft. long by 24 ft.
wide ran N. to S. This may be interpreted as two barns, of
which the northern was divided into a central room 46 ft. long
flanked by rooms 8 ft. and 12 ft. long. A series of post-holes,
5 ft. apart, continued the line of the S. wall of the S. barn and
another series apparently ran parallel to the W. wall, 14 ft. from
it. A ditch 3 ft. wide at the bottom with an outer scarp 6 ft.
wide and 3 ft. high enclosed the buildings and court on the
N., S. and E.
The finds included coins of Trajan and of Gallienus to Gratian.
The principal discovery was a hoard, buried in the floor of a
room at the W. end of the main block, consisting of two silver
rings (see below), a silver necklace or girdle fastener, nine bronze
bracelets and fragments of others. Each ring bore on the bezel a
Chi-Rho, in one case below a dove and olive branches. Window
glass, roofing tiles and stone roofing slabs, painted wall plaster
with blue, white, green, black and red designs, brooches and
shale beads were also found. Some of the finds survive, including
five bracelets in the D.C.M. and roofing tiles in the B.M.
(P.S.A. Ser. ii, VIII (1881), 543; IX (1882), 66; Dorset Procs.
XXIV (1903), 172–7; L (1928), 92–6; also unpublished notes,
plans and photographs in D.C.M. and Society of Antiquaries
Bezels of silver rings.