22 HILTON (7803)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 70 SE, ST 70 NE)
Hilton covers an area of nearly 3,050 acres, straddling
the summit of the Chalk escarpment, which at this
point is considerably broken. The S.E. part of the
parish, between 400 and 700 ft. above sea-level and
mainly on Chalk, is drained by the headwaters of the
Devil's Brook and the Milborne Brook. Except for the
Chalk spur of Bulbarrow, the N.W. part of the parish
is lower and lies on Greensand, Gault and Kimmeridge
Clay; here the land is drained by streams flowing N.
to the R. Lydden. The village of Hilton, in the S.E.,
is surrounded by extensive areas of strip fields (29, a).
To W. and N.W. lie the hamlets of Lower and Higher
Ansty, perhaps secondary settlements and apparently
without open fields. Further to the W. and N. lie the
farmsteads of Cothayes, Hatherly and Rawlsbury;
these are associated with old enclosed fields (29, b) and
are more certainly secondary. Newton Farm at the S.
extremity of the parish may have a similar origin. (fn. 1)
Hilton, the Parish Church of All Saints
(1) The Parish Church of All Saints is built partly
of squared rubble and partly of flint with bonding
courses and dressings of ashlar. The roofs are covered
with slate and with lead. That there was an early
church on the site is attested by a late 12th-century
font, by several detached fragments of 12th-century
architectural ornament and by the anomalous position of
the S. porch, which shows that the S. aisle was formerly
narrower than at present; part of the S. wall of the
chancel and the base of a ruined buttress at the S.E.
corner of the tower may survive from this period.
Capitals reset in the N. arcade of the nave suggest
that an aisle was built in the 13th century, but little
trace of it remains; the position of the porch shows
that it was to the S. The West Tower and South Porch
are of the late 15th century. The church took its present
form in the 16th century when the Nave, South Aisle
and Chancel were rebuilt and the North Aisle was added,
the N. arcade probably being set on the foundations
of the original N. wall. The N. Aisle extends E. to
embrace part of the chancel, forming a North Chapel
which is entered from the chancel through a side arch;
the N. wall of the aisle includes a row of 15th-century
windows and buttresses, almost certainly from Milton
Abbey. In 1569 the S. Aisle was widened, without
altering the position of the 15th-century porch, and a
South Chapel was formed to correspond with that on
the N., but separated from the aisle by a N.-S. wall in
line with the chancel arch; this wall was not removed
until the end of the 19th century and an old photograph preserved in the church shows that it was pierced
by a small round-headed window, suggesting that it may
have been a 12th-century survival.
The church is of some architectural interest, particularly for the N. windows, and it has a fine tower.
Painted wooden panels from Milton Abbey are noteworthy.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (23¼ ft. by 16 ft.) has
a 19th-century three-light E. window. The N. wall contains a
four-centred 16th-century archway to the N. chapel, of two
hollow-chamfered orders springing from responds with quarter
and three-quarter shafts with moulded caps and plain plinths.
The E. part of the S. wall may perhaps be of the 12th century,
but it has been much restored. The opening to the S. chapel has
a two-centred arch of three orders, the outer and inner orders
ogee-moulded, the middle order hollow-chamfered; the arch
springs from responds similar to those of the N. archway but
slenderer and with subsequently recut capitals. An opening with
a flattened triangular head in the S.W. corner of the chancel was
probably cut in the 16th century to give access to a pulpit; this
opening intersects the former rood vice. The early 16th-century
two-centred chancel arch has two ogee-moulded orders springing from attached shafts with moulded caps and plain plinths;
the shafts are separated by hollow-chamfers decorated with leaf
sprays at capital level. The rood-vice was entered through a
four-centred doorway in the N.W. corner of the S. chapel and
it ended at an ogee-headed doorway in the W. side of the S.
abutment of the chancel arch, directly over the later pulpit
The Nave (34¾ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has N. and S. arcades of three
bays. In the N. arcade the arches are two-centred and of two
moulded orders springing from piers and responds with attached
shafts separated by hollow-chamfers; the shafts have moulded
caps and the bases are set on octagonal plinths; the heads of the
hollow-chamfers on the easternmost respond are carved with
fleurs-de-lis and foliage. The moulded caps and part of the shafts
of the second pier are reused 13th-century material, and similar
material occurs in the W. respond. The S. arcade has segmental-pointed arches of three orders, the outer and inner orders
moulded, the middle order hollow-chamfered and continuous
on the piers and responds; the moulded orders spring from
attached shafts with coarsely moulded caps and with bases on
The North Chapel (13 ft. by 13¾ ft.) and North Aisle (10¾ ft.
wide) differ in width but have no other structural division.
Externally the walls have chamfered moulded plinths in three
heights, the topmost moulding forming the window-sill; above
the windows is a parapet with two moulded strings. The E. wall
contains a window of four cinquefoil-headed lights with vertical
tracery in a four-centred head under a label; the surround is
hollow-chamfered externally and moulded internally; at the
apex of the moulded rear arch is a boss carved with oak leaves.
The N. wall, almost certainly from Milton Abbey (see p. 184), is
of six bays separated externally by buttresses of two weathered
stages which continue up as standards to the parapet string-course
and end at gargoyles: a beast's head, a man playing bagpipes, a
winged beast, a devil swallowing a man, a grotesque man with a
barrel (Plate 181). The E. and W. end bays are narrower than
the others; they have two-centred blind arches with hollow-chamfered orders showing externally and internally; externally
the chamfer dies into the responds, internally it is continued on
the jambs. The windows of the intervening bays (Plate 142) are
similar to that in the E. wall of the aisle and internally have
carved apex bosses with foliage and the heads of a man and a
woman. The mouldings of the rear arches spring from attached
shafts with caps carved with conventional foliage. These are the
lateral shafts of triple clusters in which the shafts are separated
by hollow-chamfers; the central shafts originally supported
vault-ribs but these have been omitted and their truncated
springings have been notched to resemble small weathered
buttresses. The moulded pedestals of the clusters project from
the wall some 4 ft. above the aisle floor-level. Corresponding
wall-shafts with similar capitals and truncated vaulting-ribs
occur on the N. wall of the N. transept at Milton Abbey.
The W. wall of the N. aisle contains a modern doorway to the
The South Chapel (13½ ft. by 11¼ ft.) and the South Aisle
(10¼ ft. wide) are now without structural division but until late
in the 19th century they were separated by a thick wall, as
described above. The external walls have a moulded plinth and
cornice. In the E. wall is a late 15th-century window with five
ogee-headed cinquefoil lights and vertical tracery in a two-centred head; the reveals and rear arch are casement-moulded
and the mouldings of the rear arch are continued on the jambs;
the external label has square stops enclosing flowers. To the E. of
the porch the S. wall has two square-headed windows each of
three lights with four-centred heads under a square label and with
a plain segmental rear arch; between them is a narrow doorway
with a four-centred head, continuous chamfered jambs with
shaped stops and a moulded label with a raised centre and a
moulded and foliated corbel on the apex. In the ashlar above the
windows are three sunk panels inscribed respectively T.I., AO
1569', 'W.F', and 'H. W., AO 1569'. The S. doorway, set inside the
line of the 16th-century S. wall, is of the second half of the 15th
century; it has a moulded two-centred head and continuous
jambs with run-out stops. To the W. of the porch the S. wall is
pierced by a window which incorporates late 14th-century
elements, including two trefoil ogee-headed lights in a square
The West Tower (10¾ ft. by 12 ft.) is of the late 15th century.
It has three stages, with a moulded plinth, weathered stringcourses, square-set buttresses in four weathered stages, an embattled parapet and crocketed pinnacles rising from gargoyles
at the corners of the parapet string-course; other parapet
gargoyles occur at the centre of each side. The vice is in an
octagonal turret projecting from the E. part of the N. face. The
two-centred tower arch has a panelled soffit with two moulded
ribs springing from attached jamb-shafts with moulded caps
and chamfered plinths; the jambs contain two heights and the
arch soffits one height of paired stone panels, rounded at head
and foot. The doorway to the vice has a monolithic four-centred
head and continuous chamfered jambs with shaped stops. The
W. doorway has a moulded two-centred head with continuous
jambs and shaped stops; inside is a monolithic hollow-chamfered
rear arch with a raised centre. Over the W. doorway is a casementmoulded two-centred window of four transomed lights, with
four-centred openings below the transom, two-centred cinquefoil openings above and vertical tracery in the head. The S.E.
buttress of the tower incorporates a baulk of masonry that seems
to survive from an earlier stage of development; much of the
ashlar facing has broken away but the chamfered plinth is
suggestive of the 12th century. In the second stage of the tower,
the E. wall has a casement-moulded window of two trefoil
ogee-headed lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The
top stage has, in each face, a belfry window similar to that of the
second stage but larger.
The South Porch (8 ft. square) projects some 4½ ft. into the S.
aisle; it was built late in the 15th century and is of Ham Hill
ashlar, with a moulded plinth. The entrance has a moulded two-centred head and continuous jambs. Inside, a stone fan vault
springs from angle corbels, three with foliage and one carved
with a human head. The vault has moulded ribs and trefoil-headed panels; the square centre compartment has four quatrefoil panels with bosses at the intersections; these are carved with
foliage, a rose, and the arms of Milton and Abbotsbury Abbeys.
The very low-pitched lean-to Roof of the N. chapel and N.
aisle is probably of the mid 16th century; it is of twelve bays
and is divided into square coffers by heavily moulded transverse
and longitudinal beams with foliate bosses at the intersections;
moulded joists, four to each coffer, run from E. to W. The roof
of the S. chapel and S. aisle is of twelve bays and has moulded
transverse beams with slightly raised centres; these and similarly
moulded longitudinal beams and wall-plates form coffers as in
the N. aisle. Foliate bosses mask the intersections of the principal
members. The joists in alternate coffers run E.-W. and N.-S.
Fittings—Bells: six; 3rd, from Salisbury foundry, inscribed in
black-letter 'Non nobis Domine non nobis', 15th century; 4th,
by Thomas Purdue, 1684; 5th, by Roger Purdue, 1637; 6th, by
John Danton, 1626; others modern. Brackets: In chancel, in E.
wall, four octagonal stone brackets with hollow-chamfered
under-edges, perhaps mediaeval. Chairs: pair, with high backs
and scroll framing to cane panels, shaped octagonal legs with
gadrooned knops, curved diagonal stretchers with turned finial
at intersection, early 18th century, perhaps foreign. Chests:
two; one with plain lid, panelled front and ends, moulded
framing and three plain lock-plates, top rail inscribed MH ANNO
DOMINI 1638; another, of oak, to contain bible, with sloping lid,
and front enriched with guilloche ornament, 17th century.
Coffin-lid: In churchyard, immediately S. of tower, tapering slab,
4¾ ft. long, with double hollow-chamfered edge and traces of
cross, early 14th century, broken. Coffin-stools: two, with
moulded tops, turned legs, moulded rails and stretchers, c. 1700.
Door: In S. doorway, in two leaves, with nail-studded boards
and double-hinged strap hinges with fleur-de-lis terminals;
15th century with modern repairs. Font: In tower, square
Purbeck marble bowl with four round-headed panels on each
side, c. 1200, stem and base modern. Graffiti: On tower vice
doorway, 18th-century initials and dates; on porch arch, 17th-century scratchings; on S. doorway, Richard Michel 1625; on
S. door, A.L. 1720.
Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In N. chapel, on E. wall,
stone panel (28 ins. by 25 ins.) with moulded border surrounding
shield-of-arms (unidentified 2), 17th century. Floor-slabs: At
E. end of N. chapel, (1) illegible, 'MA ...' perhaps mid 17th
century; (2) anonymous, with crude skull and cross-bones; at
W. end of N. chapel, (3) probably of a vicar of Hilton, 17th
century, with later inscription mainly illegible. Niches: In S.
porch, in E. wall, trefoil-headed recess in square surround with
foliate cusps and spandrels, and ribbed vaulting with rosettes at
intersections, early 16th century; externally, above entrance to
porch, trefoil-headed recess with hollow-chamfered jambs,
early 16th century. Paintings: In W. tower, twelve wooden
panels (7¼ ft. by 1¼ ft.) depicting apostles, late 15th century in
modern framing, removed from Milton Abbey (Hutchins, 2nd
ed., IV, 230), (Plates 25, 137). Piscina: In chancel, plain recess with
projecting sill and shallow circular bowl, date uncertain. Plate:
includes silver cup of 1662, stand-paten of 1695 and alms-dish of
1778. Pulpit: of oak, polygonal, with three sides composed of
late 16th-century panels carved with diaper pattern and foliate
tracery between moulded stiles, fourth side with incised 17th-century line ornament, and fifth side with two heights of mid
17th-century plain panels in moulded stiles and rails; book-ledge
and stone base modern. Royal Arms: Over S. doorway, arms of
Victoria in painted cast-iron. Stoup: In N.E. corner of porch,
remains of round bowl hollowed from a block of stone, with
stop-chamfered outer edge, 15th century. Sundials: On top of
S.E. corner of S. aisle, sculptured stone tablet dated 1690, with
scrolled top carved with sun face from which projects fretted
wrought-iron gnomon. High up on S. wall of S. aisle, towards
E. end, scratch-dial, probably of 1569. Miscellanea: In W. wall of
N. aisle, (1) reset hollow-chamfered stone panelling, perhaps
from a parapet, consisting of diagonal squares, some cusped, with
shields: (i) Earl of Cornwall, (ii) a device representing a nail
threaded through a tau-cross and piercing a heart, (iii) Cerne
Abbey, early 16th century. In external plinth of S. wall of S.
chapel, (2) chamfered stone ledge, perhaps dole-stone. In S.
aisle, high up at W. end of S. wall, (3) reset grotesque corbel with
human head and winged beast body, 15th century; on W.
wall, (4) angel corbel, 15th century. Detached, (5) various
architectural fragments including cushion-capital and base of
attached shaft, intermediate stone of attached shaft, and abacus
with chevron ornament, all 12th century. In N. vestry, (6) two
panels from lead roof with initials and dates 'I W, S F, 1722' and
'M A, I D, 1741'. In W. tower, (7) two pairs of cherub heads,
carved wood, 18th century.
(2) Village Hall (76470313), at Lower Ansty, is of
one storey and was originally a malthouse; it was built
in 1777 by Charles Hall, reputedly with material from
Higher Melcombe, Melcombe Horsey (3), see p. 168.
The malthouse was remodelled and extensively rebuilt
in 1948 when it was converted into a hall. The N. and
part of the W. walls are original; the W. wall incorporates several transferred 17th-century features, including
a doorway and parts of three two-light stone-mullioned
Unless otherwise described the following monuments
are two-storied dwellings of the 18th century. In early
examples the walls are of cob or, occasionally, rubble;
later examples are of rubble and flint with brick bonding
courses; the roofs are generally thatched. Many cottages
have exposed ceiling-beams.
(3) Hilton Lower Farm (78380286), house, has been more than
doubled in size by 19th-century additions on the N. side. The
original 18th-century dwelling, a two-bay cottage facing S.,
has brick walls in Flemish bond with vitrified headers. The 19th-century building is of flint with brick bonding-courses and has
a small contemporary wrought-iron porch to the N. An open
fireplace in the original kitchen has a heavy chamfered bressummer.
A nearby Granary, now demolished, was of brick with a
tiled roof and was built late in the 18th century; it was raised
above ground on an arcaded brick substructure.
(4) Cottage (78280298) is single-storied with an attic.
(5) Cottage (78300288), formerly the Crown Inn, incorporates
an early 18th-century single-storied cob cottage.
(6) Cottage (78290289) is of the early 18th century.
(7)–(10) Cottages (78280295), (78240300), (78300306) and
(11) Cottages (78050310), two adjacent; that to the E. is of
squared rubble and dates from the 17th century; it has been
extended to the W. in brick and flint at two periods.
(12) Range, of three dwellings (76730398), is of the late 18th
and early 19th century; the flint walls have brick bondingcourses and quoins.
(13) Lower Farm (76680395), house, is single-storied with
dormer-windowed attics. The walls of the original range are of
rubble with rough ashlar dressings; in the extensions they are of
rubble, flint and brick; the roofs are thatched. The original range
is of the early 16th century; in the 17th century it was extended
to the S. and in the 18th century a pair of cottages was added to
the N., at right-angles to the original range. On the W. side the
16th-century range has a square-headed stone doorway with a
hollow-chamfered and ogee-moulded surround; carved on the
lintel is 'R.G. 1695'. The E. side retains a dormer window with a
moulded wooden surround. Inside, the original range has a
ground-floor room with a coffered ceiling of nine panels formed
by intersecting beams and wall-plates, with ogee and hollow-chamfered mouldings.
(14) Cottages (76700400), two adjoining, have rubble walls
with inserted brick dressings. The E. cottage probably dates from
late in the 17th century and has an E. extension in cob; the W.
cottage is of the 18th century.
(15) Cottages, two adjoining (76830398), are now united as
a single house. The E. cottage is of the 16th century but it has
an 18th-century façade with a plat-band and a coved cornice to
the S. front; a stepped brick chimney-stack projects from the
gabled E. end wall. Inside, a ground-floor room has a six-panel
ceiling with intersecting deep-chamfered beams. The W. cottage
is of the 19th century.
(16) Higher Ansty Farm (76790399), house, has an 18th-century
symmetrical three-bay S. front.
(17) Pleck Farm (76670417), house, was built late in the 17th
or early in the 18th century. A lead pump in the garden is
initialled and dated C.H.E. 1831.
(18) House (76520320), formerly several dwellings, is Ushaped in plan and has walls of banded flint and brick. The N.
and W. ranges date from c. 1800; the S. range is modern.
(19)–(22) Cottages, are located as follows: (19) 76440308, (20)
76400296, (21) 76260282, (22) 76240278; the last comprises two
adjoining three-bay cottages, that to the N. is of the early and
that to the S. is of the late 18th century.
(23) Post Office (76270267), has an L-shaped plan and is built
of cob. The date 1735 scratched on a piece of clunch that was
found during recent alterations is probably the date of building.
Two iron-framed casement windows with leaded lights are
(24)–(25) Cottages (76600314, 76650313) are of the 19th
century; in its lower part (25) incorporates the walls of an earlier
(26) Aller Farm (76700302) probably originated in the 17th
century but it was subsequently enlarged and may at one time
have become several dwellings. Early in the 19th century the
house was remodelled and no early features remain visible
inside. Squared rubble quoins in the S.W. front provide evidence
of earlier fenestration.
(27) Cottages, two (769029), one N. and one S. of the road,
were built late in the 18th or early in the 19th century; they
have walls of flint with brick quoins, and brick bonding-courses
at intervals of approximately 1¼ ft.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(28) Settlement Remains (784029) cover 7 acres on the S.E.
side of Hilton village. The remains are all within an area that is
bounded to N.E. and S.E. by a bank 2 ft. to 3 ft. high and 20 ft.
wide; they consist of closes of various sizes and shapes, with sides
up to 80 ft. long, bounded by low banks and scarps. Within the
closes are platforms, probably of houses; they occur most
conspicuously along the existing road to the S.W., where there
are at least seven platforms up to 20 ft. by 60 ft. Many of the
closes and the boundary bank were still in use in 1771 (Map by
Wm. Woodward, 1771, see p. 183) although the house sites had
(29) Cultivation Remains: (a) A three-field system existed
at Hilton in the 14th century (H. L. Gray, English Field Systems,
1915, appx. II, 461) but the date of enclosure is unknown. Strip
lynchets of these fields cover about 60 acres around the village.
Due W. of Manor Farm (776037) a particularly well-preserved
set, of contour type with massive risers, appears in part to
overlie 'Celtic' fields. On Thomas's Hill (793026) a series of
narrow contour strip lynchets, in part cut by the Hilton-Milton
Abbas road, curves E. round the spur and runs into and over
'Celtic' fields (see Group 52, p. 337). A more extensive group of
contour strip lynchets E. of the village (789029) was formerly
arranged in interlocking furlongs with run-out and ramped ends.
At a subsequent period but before 1769 (see Woodward's map,
1771, and Tithe Map of Hilton, 1842) the area was divided into
rectangular closes and the lower treads were reploughed; this
has resulted in the treads having squared-off ends delimited by
old hedge banks.
(b) In the N. of the parish around Rawlsbury Farm (765054)
are extensive areas of ridge-and-furrow, 5 yds. to 7 yds. wide,
confined within fields which appear to have been enclosed direct
from the waste.
(c) In the S.W. of the parish (757030) are the massive risers of
two cross-contour strip lynchets. These can only be explained
as part of the former open fields of Melcombe Horsey (see
p. 172), whence it appears that the parish boundary must have
been changed at some period.
Roman and Prehistoric
'Celtic' Fields, see pp. 333–7., Groups (48–52).
Rawlsbury Camp, see Stoke Wake (6), p. 259.
(30) Bowl Barrow (77730136), at the S. end of the parish,
350 yds. S.E. of Newton Farm, lies on a N.W. slope just off the
top of a spur. The barrow was excavated in 1916 by Maj. C.
Ashburnham and proved to be of two main periods. A primary
crouched interment in a cist cut into the natural chalk lay under a
flint cairn about 38 ft. in diameter and surrounded by a ditch.
The cairn was later enlarged to its present diameter and a
second ditch was cut. Numerous inhumations and one cremation,
probably all secondary, were found in the mound, and two
cremations, one with a small bronze awl, were found in ridged
Food-vessel urns in the inner ditch (Dorset Procs. XXXVIII
(1917), 74–80; Arch. J. CXIX (1962), 65, s.v. Bingham's Melcombe). A large hollow in the centre and an apparent berm on
the W. are presumably the result of Maj. Ashburnham's excavation. Diam. 68 ft., ht. 8 ft.
(31) Bowl Barrow (78230490), 160 yds. W.N.W. of Hill
Barn and 800 ft. above O.D., lies on the gentle S.W. slope of a
broad ridge. Much ploughed. Diam. about 40 ft., ht. 1 ft.
(32) Valley Bottom Enclosure (777016), of 9 acres, lies in
Coombe Bottom immediately E. of Newton Farm. The flat
bottom of a narrow E.-W. dry valley is enclosed on the N., E.
and S. sides by a bank, 10 ft. wide and 2 ft. high, with an outer,
uphill, ditch 8 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep. The bank and ditch do not
extend across the mouth of the valley. There is an entrance
20 ft. wide in the centre of the short E. side, at the head of the
valley. In at least two places the enclosure bank lies over lynchets
of 'Celtic' fields (Group 48).