21 WEST PARLEY (0896)
(O.S. 6 ins., SZ 09 NE)
The parish, now of about 1,000 acres, but until
recently much larger and including part of Hampreston
and all of West Moors, lies on the N. bank of the R.
Stour and adjoins the county boundary with Hampshire.
Apart from river-terraces in the S., the land is on
Bagshot and Bracklesham Beds, almost all of it less than
100 ft. above O.D. Two early settlements are mentioned
in Domesday (V.C.H., Dorset iii, 96, 102): Dodesberie
(Dudsbury) and Perlai; both are on the bank of the
(1) The Parish Church of All Saints, on a slight
eminence beside the Stour, has walls of Heathstone
rubble, partly rendered and with ashlar dressings, and
roof-coverings of tile and stone-slate. The Nave is of
mid 12th-century origin and the Chancel probably dates
from the 14th century. Late in the 15th or early in the
16th century the North Porch was added and the nave
was re-roofed; later in the 16th century the W. wall of
the nave was rebuilt and the western part of the roof
was altered to allow the construction of a wooden bell-turret; the present turret, however, is of the late 18th
century. In 1896 the chancel was largely rebuilt, the
original E. window being reset; the North Vestry was
added at this time. The porch was restored in 1900.
The early font and N. doorway are of interest, and
the timber porch is an unusual survival. The nave has
West Parley, the Parish Church of All Saints
Architectural Description—The Chancel has a reset 14th-century E. window of two cinquefoil-headed lights with a
pierced quatrefoil in a chamfered two-centred head with continuous jambs. The N. and S. walls are of 1896, but the W.
window on the S. side incorporates reused material, perhaps
mediaeval. The 14th-century chancel arch is two-centred and of
two orders; its small regular voussoirs may be reused 12th-century material. The inner order is chamfered and rises above
chamfered responds with moulded caps and roll-moulded stops
at the foot; the outer order of the arch is chamfered on the W.
side only, but the responds are chamfered on both sides, the
eastern chamfers ending above and below in shaped stops. On
the W., the arch has a chamfered label with bracket stops of
uncertain date. Flanking the chancel arch are large squints with
chamfered two-centred heads and continuous jambs; they are
rendered and of uncertain, but possibly 14th-century date.
The N. wall of the Nave has a shallow projection on the E.
which probably incorporates the remains of a pilaster buttress.
The N. window, with a chamfered ogee trefoil head, is of the
18th century. The 12th-century N. doorway has plain ashlar
jambs and a heavy stone lintel with a cambered upper surface
supporting a recessed tympanum and a plain semicircular
relieving arch; to increase the height of the doorway the underside of the lintel, probably flat in origin, has been made segmental
(cf. Tarrant Rushton, Dorset IV, 113). The semicircular rear-arch
is rendered. Further W. a vertical joint in the wall marks the
16th-century reconstruction of the W. end of the nave. A two-stage buttress of uncertain date at the N.W. corner probably
incorporates mediaeval material. Much of the S. wall is rendered,
but towards the E. is a stout 14th-century Heathstone buttress
of three weathered stages. The two S. windows, similar to that
on the N., have hollow-chamfered labels with returned stops.
A former S. doorway is attested by chamfered jambs seen low
down externally (now in a heating chamber) and by the outline
of the rear-arch seen internally. A set-back indicates the extent
of 16th-century reconstruction of the W. wall. The W. window,
of two trefoil-headed lights below a roundel in a two-centred
head, is of the 18th century. Above the W. gable is a square
timber Bell-turret with weather-boarded sides and with a lead-covered octagonal spire.
The North Porch (Plate 64) has a square-headed entry with a
double-chamfered oak lintel resting on shouldered oak jambs,
chamfered as before and with run-out stops; these stand on
chamfered oak wall-plates and low stone plinths, the wall-plates
forming seats inside the porch. Above the lintel is a strutted
gable and a bargeboard with cusped decoration. Inside, the roof
rests on a truss similar to the gable.
The nave Roof has arch-braced trussed rafters formerly concealed by a plaster barrel vault (old photograph). Three longitudinal chamfered ribs with lozenge-shaped bosses at intervals
projected below the former vault; the ribs and bosses have been
renewed. The W. end of the nave is spanned by two 16th-century king-strut tie-beam trusses with curved braces and collar-beams; these trusses support the bell-turret.
Fittings—Bell: inscribed 'T. Pyke, B.water, 1792'. Candlesticks: Pair, attached to pulpit, of brass with shaped brackets
representing swans' heads and square uprights with pineapple
finials, 18th century. Chair: of oak, with two-panelled back and
turned arm supports, with drawer beneath seat, late 17th century; brass inscription-plate modern. Coffin-lid: Reset against
W. side of porch, of stone with plain raised cross, 14th century.
Door: In N. doorway, of elm, nail-studded and with scrolled
wrought-iron hinges (Plate 21); ironwork late mediaeval, woodwork probably 18th century. Font: (Plate 18) of stone, of tub
form, with tapering bowl with raised round-headed arcading,
on cylindrical stem and square base, mid 12th century; set on
top of foregoing, octagonal stone bowl with chamfered under-edge, probably late mediaeval. Graffiti: On W. jamb of N.
doorway, initials and dates, 1695–7.
Monuments: In chancel, reset on N. wall, (1) of Richard Ness,
1839, and his wife Elizabeth Mary, 1835, marble tablet by
Bedfored, London. In churchyard, two paces S. of nave, (2), (3),
(4), of Margaret Bromley, 1723, and of John and of Mary
Pelten, both 1728, three similar headstones with shaped tops and
cherub-head decoration; adjacent, (5) of John Thomes, 1721,
headstone. Niche: On S. of chancel arch, facing E., with segmental stone head, probably reset; date uncertain.
Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten by Laurence
Stratford with inscription 1574; also pewter alms-dish inscribed
John Carpenter, early 19th century. Pulpit and Desk: (Plate 19),
of oak, pulpit with five panelled sides with guilloche enrichment
at base and leaf-carving in upper panels, 17th century; hexagonal
sounding-board with moulded cornice and panelled support,
18th century; clerk's desk adjacent to pulpit, with similar
enrichment, 17th century. Seating: of pine, with box pews, 1841
(inscription in vestry). Weather-vane: of iron with arrow head
and open fish tail, said to bear date 1793. Miscellanea: (1) In
vestry, ten early 16th-century bosses from nave roof, carved
with knots, frets and other devices. (2) Below E. window,
externally, niche of 1893 containing earthenware vase, said to
have held heart-burial of Lady of Lydlinch (Hutchins IV, 192;
cf. Dorset III, 138, Lydlinch (1), monument (11)). (3) Sunk in
wall above pulpit sounding-board, hollow earthenware acoustic
(2) Church Farm (08649688), house, of two storeys with
attics and cellar, has brick walls and tiled roofs and is of the late
18th century. The S.W. front is symmetrical and of five bays,
with segmental-headed casement windows in both storeys and
with a central doorway under a brick porch. Inside, the plan is
of class T. The cellar has four bays of groined brick vaulting
supported on a square central pier. Until recently the main
staircase had a moulded handrail of thick cross-section, and
turned column-shaped balusters; a modern staircase has been
A Barn, some 30 yds. N.E. of the house, of red brick with a
slated, half-hipped roof, is probably contemporary with the
(3) Bramble's Farm (08669741), house, of two storeys with
red brick walls patterned with blue header bricks and with tiled
roofs, dates from early in the 18th century. The principal range
has a plan of class T, and a symmetrical E. front of five bays with
square-headed casement windows in both storeys; the window
above the entrance has been blocked. The S. gable bears the
letters B I M in blue headers. Inside, the ground-floor rooms
have chamfered beams, and the staircase has a heavy handrail
supported on stout turned balusters, and square newel posts with
(4) Wood Town Farm (09109765), house, of one storey with
attics, has walls of cob on footings of brick and heathstone
rubble, and a hipped thatched roof. The original building, with
a class-S plan, is of the 17th century; early in the 19th century
the main room was divided into two, and a further room was
added at the S. end of the range.
(5) Enclosures, on Parley Common, in the form of extremely long, narrow fields which formerly extended from N.
to S. across the common, are the remains of turf-cutting
allotments formed in 1633 when the heathland was divided
between the freeholders of the Manor (Dorset Procs., L (1928),
109–16). The remains consist of continuous parallel banks some
2½ ft. high and up to 1 mile in length. Occasional hedges and
cross-banks are the result of later subdivision into small fields.
Roman and Prehistoric
(6) Romano-British Occupation Debris (09229751), mainly
of the 4th century, occurs immediately S.E. of Wood Town
Farm on a gravel river terrace at about 40 ft. above O.D. A
short distance to the N. (09149773), possible Iron Age pits were
noted in 1929 (Dorset Procs., LI (1929), 237–9; LII (1930), 19).
(7) Dudsbury (077979), an Iron Age hill-fort prominently sited at about 100 ft. above O.D., lies on the N.
bank of the R. Stour in an area of Tertiary sands,
gravels and clays (plan, p. 77). The ground falls precipitously to the river on the S. and S.W., but it slopes
gently away on the other sides. The defences enclose a
roughly semicircular area of about 8 acres. There are
double ramparts and ditches on the W., N. and E., but
much of the outer rampart and ditch has been obliterated
or severely damaged, especially by ploughing, drainage
and tree planting. Where best preserved, just N. of the
S.W. corner, the inner rampart stands 5 ft. above the
interior and 13 ft. above the bottom of the ditch outside
it. The outer rampart here is essentially a scarp which
rises 19 ft. above the bottom of the outer ditch. Along
the S.W. side the defences comprise a single rampart,
which rises 4½ ft. above the interior, and some 16 ft.
above a ledge or berm on the outside. Near the S.
corner the bank has been destroyed by ploughing and
there is no trace of a ledge.
There are four entrances; those on the E. and N. appear to
be modern cuts, but those on the S.W. and W. are probably
original. The S.W. entrance is a simple gap in the defences at
the head of a natural gully at the top of the river cliff. The W.
entrance has been badly mutilated by modern tracks and ploughing, but it seems likely that the inner rampart, at least, was
inturned at the entrance. The interior of the hill-fort, slightly
domed, has been under cultivation for many years, except for
the N.E. quadrant which is occupied by a house and garden.
Limited excavations were carried out in 1921 by Heywood
Sumner. Trial trenches in the W. half of the interior and one
across the W. entrance were unproductive; a trench across the
inner ditch on the N.W. side yielded only two sherds of Iron
Age 'A' type, at the bottom of the ditch. Roman pottery has
been found 300 yds. E. of the site, at 08029776. (Warne, Ancient
Dorset, 53–5. H. Allcroft, Earthwork of England (1908), 191.
Heywood Sumner, Local Papers (1931), 16–24; Antiquity, V
Monuments (8–13), Round Barrows
Six barrows have been recorded within the present
limits of the parish, but only three survive ((10), (12)
(8) Bowl (07889789), immediately E. of Dudsbury. A barbed
and tanged flint arrowhead was found during demolition. No
dimensions were recorded.
(9) Dudsbury Barrow (07559825), bowl, lay N. of the hillfort, near the present boundary with Hampreston; diam. 75 ft.,
ht. 6 ft. The barrow was excavated in 1935 before demolition
and was found to be of two main phases. An initial mound,
about 45 ft. in diameter and composed mostly of turfs, covered
a primary oval grave in the natural sand, which had apparently
once held a crouched inhumation. The mound was later enlarged, a substantial ditch was cut around it and a secondary
cremation under an inverted collared or ridged food-vessel urn
was placed in it. (Dorset Procs., 87 (1965), 126–41; Arch. J., CXIX
(1962), 5, 11, 65.)
(10) Parley Barrow (07909868), bowl, on Poor Common, was
formerly in Hampreston (Dorset Barrows, 113; Hampreston 8);
diam. 104 ft., ht. 9½ ft.
(11) Bowl (07939864), 50 yds. S.E. of (10), has now been
destroyed; diam. 40 ft., ht. 2 ft.
West Parley. (7) Dudsbury Hill-fort.
(12) Mag's Barrow (08369859), bowl; diam. 84 ft., ht. 6 ft.,
with a substantial ditch around it.
(13) Ralph's Barrow (08609883), bowl; diam. 90 ft., ht. 7 ft.