25 WOODLANDS (0509)
(O.S. 6 ins., SU 00 NE, SU 00 NW, SU 01 SW)
Woodlands covers 2,594 acres in a broad strip of land
extending from the R. Allen in the W. to the Dorset
Heathlands in the E. From the Allen at about 140 ft.
above O.D. the land rises gently, on Chalk, to a low
N.-S. ridge capped by Reading Beds, about 250 ft.
above O.D. Further E. the land falls and the Chalk is
soon overlain by Reading Beds and London Clays
which give rise to a well-wooded area, at altitudes from
200 ft. to 120 ft., drained by streams flowing S. and
S.E. Bagshot Beds in the S.E. of the parish result in open
The parish came into existence in the 19th century
when the hamlets of Knowlton, Baggeridge and
Woodlands (Hutchins III, 150) were detached from
Horton. Knowlton, now deserted, was the earliest
settlement; it stood beside the R. Allen and its 12th-century church (1) was built, not in the village, but some
600 yds. to the S.E., near the centre of a Neolithic
henge (20). Later settlement developed on the Reading
Beds and London Clay. Woodlands village, first
recorded in 1244, is the largest of these later settlements;
its houses surround a 'green', irregular in plan and
formerly larger than now. Woodlands Farm is another
such settlement and Whitmore is probably a third.
Baggeridge is completely deserted and even lost, but it
appears to have been situated near Bagman's Copse, on
the ridge between Woodlands and Knowlton, about a
mile S.E. of Knowlton church (Dorset Procs., 88 (1967),
209–10). Encroachment on the heathland in the E. of
the parish continued over a long period; Knob's Crook
was not occupied until the 19th century, witness O.S.
1811 and the tithe map of 1841.
(1) Knowlton Church (02381028), a ruined building of unknown dedication standing near the centre of
a Neolithic henge (20), has walls mainly of flint, with
ashlar dressings of Greensand and Heathstone; it has
no roof (Plate 88). The Chancel and Nave are of the
12th century; the North Chapel, West Tower and probably the South Porch are of the 15th century; the North
Aisle appears to have been added in the 18th century.
The church was in use in 1550 (Hutchins III, 150), but
it had become unfrequented by the middle of the 17th
century and in 1659 an attempt was made to demolish
it; the churchwardens were, however, prevented from
doing this (Dorset Procs., XXXVI (1915), 95). Hutchins
(1st ed., II, 60) records a revival of use 'about 40 years
since', that is c. 1730, to which period the N. aisle may
be assigned. Later in the 18th century the roof fell in
and the church was abandoned. The ruin, together with
the surrounding henge, is now in the guardianship of
the Department of the Environment.
The siting of the church, at some distance from the
settlement which it served (16) and in close association
with a prominent group of prehistoric earthworks
(19–22), raises interesting questions of continuity.
Woodlands, Knowlton Church
Architectural Description—An irregular opening in the E.
wall of the Chancel presumably represents a former E. window.
The S.E. corner has plain quoin stones and no buttress; the N.E.
corner was rebuilt when the N. chapel was added. The N. wall
retains the E. jamb of the ashlar splay of a former window and
the lower voussoirs of its round head. The S. wall has a rough
aperture for a former window, now gone. The round-headed
chancel arch, of one plain order, springs from chamfered
Heathstone abaci above plain ashlar responds with chamfered
In the North Chapel, the N.E. corner has a 15th-century two-stage buttress with a hollow-chamfered plinth and a weathered
offset. The single-light E. window has an ashlar sill and hollow-chamfered jambs; the head has gone. Much of the N. wall has
perished, but the chamfered base of a square-set buttress remains
at the W. end. The W. wall has gone.
The eastern part of the N. side of the Nave has gone; in the
western part, mainly of 12th-century flint-work, an inserted
archway has an ashlar W. respond with part of a chamfered
plinth, possibly of the 12th century but reset, and an elliptical
brick arch mostly concealed by cement rendering; the facing of
the E. respond has gone. On the S. side of the nave are the
remains of a 12th-century window of one light with a chamfered
ashlar sill and jambs, and wide splayed reveals; the head has
gone and the window embrasure has been blocked internally.
The S. doorway has a plain round head and plain jambs with
chamfered abaci; internally the opening was originally rebated
for a door, but chamfered stonework repairing the E. jamb fills
part of the rebate. Of the walls of the North Aisle only flint
The West Tower has walls of Greensand and Heathstone ashlar
banded with knapped flint; at the base is a chamfered plinth and
the two stages are defined by weathered and hollow-chamfered
string-courses. Most of the parapet has gone. The tower arch is
two-centred and of two chamfered orders with continuous
responds; on the E. the responds have large broach base-stops;
on the W. the outer order dies into the walls. The W. wall of
the lower stage has a window of two trefoil-headed lights with
sunk spandrels. High in the S. wall of the lower stage is a small
square-headed window with a chamfered surround. The upper
stage has E., S. and W. belfry windows, each of one trefoil-headed light with sunk spandrels. The E. wall retains the creasing
course of the former nave roof. The South Porch, with flint walls,
has gone except for the lower courses; the S.W. corner retains
the ashlar base of a diagonal buttress.
Fittings—Altar (?): Lying between N. aisle and N. chapel,
rectangular Heathstone block, 4' 8" by 2' 6" by 11", no consecration crosses, perhaps 12th century. Brackets: two, in N. chapel
flanking E. window, that on N. moulded, the other almost
obliterated, 15th century. Font: see Monument (2). Scratching:
on W. respond of archway to N. aisle, CWM 1570.
(2) The Parish Church of The Ascension (05080900) was
built in 1892.
Fitting. Font: comprises plain circular stone bowl brought
from (1), 12th century, on modern pedestal and base.
(3) Woodlands Farm (04580821), house and outbuildings, ½ mile S.W. of (2), is of two storeys with
brick walls and tiled roofs. The principal range of the
building is of the early 18th century, but at the S. end it
incorporates part of a 16th-century structure, presumably a surviving fragment of the hospitable abode of
Mr. Henry Hastings, pleasingly described in the 1st
Lord Shaftesbury's well-known 'character' of this
eccentric sportsman (Hutchins III, 154). Nothing found
today, however, corresponds with the chapel and hall
mentioned in the description, nor is there any recognisable trace of the pedimented front embellished with the
Seymour arms and a bell-turret, built c. 1710 by Mr.
Seymour 'of the hanaper-office' to replace the Hastings
mansion. The existing 18th-century range probably
originated as a stable building adjoining the house of
c. 1710; it was subsequently remodelled as a farmhouse.
The W. elevation has fifteen bays, fairly regularly spaced.
The brickwork is neatly executed in Flemish bond; at the base
is a brick plinth, first-floor level is marked by a three-course
plat-band and the eaves have a plaster cove. Many openings have
been blocked or altered in size. A doorway near the N. end of
the elevation has a projecting brick surround and a moulded
cornice. Further S. a round-headed archway, big enough for a
carriage, is blocked and a doorway and window are set in the
former opening. At the S. end of the W. elevation the 18th-century brickwork continues beyond the fifteenth bay to form the
W. side of a taller bay, with a large ground-floor window and
a smaller first-floor window, the latter blocked. The S. and E.
sides of this taller bay are of the 16th century (Plate 83) and have
English-bond brickwork decorated with a diaper of blue headers.
The S. wall has a large plinth with a weathered stone capping
and, in each storey, a stone window of two cinquefoil-headed
lights in a moulded square-headed surround; the lower window
is casement-moulded, that above has a label. The E. wall has
similarly moulded stone windows with square-headed lights. All
four 16th-century windows are blocked with brickwork.
Further N., the E. elevation of the 18th-century range is much
the same as on the W., but masked in part by later additions.
Evenly spaced along the roof ridge are three large chimneystacks
with panelled sides and moulded brick cornices.
Inside the 16th-century S. bay, three stop-chamfered beams
support the first floor; the upper room is inaccessible; the roof
is of the 18th century. The 18th-century range has been extensively altered internally, probably in the 19th century when
it was refitted as a dwelling, but the roof retains collared tie-beam trusses with bowed principals supporting two purlins on
each side. The ends of the tie-beams are shaped to receive the
(4) Cottage (04560818), some 30 yds. S.W. of the foregoing,
is of two storeys with brick walls and tiled roofs and dates from
early in the 18th century. It appears to have originated as a
coach-house and no doubt was built in association with (3).
(5) 'Round House' (04860908), of two storeys with brick
walls and tiled roofs, is of late 18th-century origin with 19th-century additions. The 18th-century range (52 ft. by 18 ft.) is
orientated due N.-S. and has apsidal ends; it appears to have
been built for some industrial purpose, as yet unexplained, and
not as a dwelling. The lower storey is unusually high; all fireplaces, internal partitions and staircases are of the 19th century.
In each storey, each apse originally had three uniform windows
and there were other windows in each side wall; the position of
original doorways is unknown. The first floor rests on plain
beams, square in cross-section. All partitions are of timber.
The E. wing was added early in the 19th century and the W.
wing about the middle of the same century. The ending of the
18th-century plat-bands on the E. and W. walls suggests that
the wings replace former single-storeyed ranges with lean-to
roofs, which lay parallel with the original range.
In 1954 the building comprised three tenements; it has since
been converted into a house.
(6) Vicarage (05040894), of one storey with attics, has walls
of timber framework and of brick, and slate-covered roofs. The
principal range is of early 18th-century origin and there is a mid
19th-century addition at the E. end. Inside, stop-chamfered
beams are exposed in the ground floor rooms of the original
(7) Cottage (04640894), of two storeys with walls of timber
framework and of brick, and with a thatched roof, is of the
early 17th century and has a class-S plan; an E. extension with
brick walls and a slated roof is of the 19th century. In the N. and
S. elevations the timber-framework, three panels in height,
rests on a plinth of brick and knapped flint. In the N. window
of the principal ground floor room the timber lintel shows that
the original window was of five square-headed lights, slightly
projecting on a corbelled sill (cf. Pamphill (27)). The large brick
chimneybreast, occupying the whole W. wall of the range,
contains an open fireplace, the stairs and an oven.
(8) Cottage (04820898), of one storey with an attic, has cob
walls above a brick plinth, and a thatched roof. It is of early
18th-century date, with a class-S plan.
(9) Cottage (04860898), with characteristics much as in (8),
is of the late 18th century. A brick-walled early 19th-century
N. extension is said to have been formerly a Methodist assembly
(10) 'Park House' (05610809), a cottage of one storey with
an attic, has brick walls and a thatched roof and is of mid 18th-century origin. The plan is of class I, with back-to-back fireplaces. One room has a chamfered ceiling beam with run-out
The Deserted Settlements of Brockington and Knowlton (Gussage All Saints and Woodlands)
(11) Cottage (04030832), of one storey with attics, with
timber-framed walls and a thatched roof, is of the early 17th
century. Brick-walled additions to N. and S. of the original
building are probably of the 18th century. Modern alterations
have obliterated the original plan.
(12) Cottages (04070820), two adjoining, originally one
dwelling, are single-storeyed with attics and have brick walls
and thatched roofs. The building is of the late 17th century and
the original two-room plan appears to have been a variant of
(13) Old Down Cottages (03240883), formerly Well House,
is of two storeys with brick walls and a tiled roof and dates from
about the middle of the 18th century. An extension on the S.E.
is of the late 18th century. The original building had a symmetrical S.W. front of five bays with a central doorway. The
openings in the lower storey had segmental heads; those above
were square-headed. The S.E. extension had corresponding
openings in two bays. During the 19th century the house was
divided into several cottages, windows and doorways were
blocked up and altered without regard to symmetry, and the
plan (probably of class T originally) was greatly changed.
Inside, a late 19th-century cottage staircase is fitted with 18th-century spirally-turned and enriched balusters, probably an
original feature of the house.
(14) New Barn Farm (02400997), house, of two storeys with
partly rendered brick walls and with a tiled roof, dates from the
last quarter of the 18th century. In the symmetrical three-bay S.
front the slightly projecting middle bay is emphasised by a
modest pediment, the cornice being formed with red and blue
bricks. Sashed windows in both storeys have segmental heads
with keystones. The square-headed doorway has a wooden
architrave and scrolled brackets supporting a flat hood. Inside,
the house has a class-T plan.
Contemporary barns and stable buildings on the S. of the
farm house have brick walls and tiled roofs. The barn walls have
cornices as in the house.
(15) Charlton Dairy Farm (02561062), house, of two storeys
with attics, has walls of brick and of squared rubble with bands
of knapped flint, and a tiled roof. Now abandoned and ruinous,
the building appears to date from the 17th century.
The S. front, with a chamfered ashlar plinth and heavy squared
rubble quoins, has plain square-headed openings asymmetrically
disposed in four bays. The gabled E. and W. ends have inclined
coping above shaped kneelers, and attic windows of one and
two square-headed lights with chamfered stone surrounds; those
on the E. are blocked. A ground-floor doorway in the W. wall
gives access to a small bake-house.
Inside, the plan is a variant of class T, with four rooms in the
range. Those on the ground floor are spanned by stout chamfered beams. One fireplace has a wooden surround with a
pulvinated frieze and a moulded cornice.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(16) Settlement Remains of the former village of
Knowlton lie on the S.E. bank of the R. Allen, 600 yds.
N.W. of Knowlton church. Although Chenoltune is
mentioned twice in Domesday the recorded population
of 1086 cannot be assessed; one entry (V.C.H., Dorset
iii, 65) includes other manors; the other (ibid., 86)
records 2 men. The Lay Subsidy Roll of 1333 lists 31
taxpayers, but the figure includes Woodlands and other
settlements and cannot be taken as evidence of population in Knowlton alone. The construction of a chapel
and a tower at the church (1) in the 15th century implies
a substantial population.
The remains have been much damaged by drainage and
quarrying, but recognizable earthworks still cover about 10
acres (plan, opposite). On the W. of the road to Brockington at
least eleven large roughly rectangular closes, bounded by low
banks and scarps, lie between the R. Allen and a steep river-cliff.
Several possible building sites occur, most of them rectangular
platforms. Disturbed areas at the lower (N.W.) ends of most
closes yield black soil, flint rubble, Heathstone fragments and
12th to 17th-century pottery. Other closes and rectangular
platforms occur N.E. of the road to Brockington; they are cut
by a later aqueduct, now disused.
(17) Inhumation Burials (02451016, 02541023, 02581028),
about sixteen, unaccompanied by grave goods, were found in
1958 in a pipe trench a short distance E. and S.E. of Knowlton
church. They lay in chalk-cut graves, some aligned E.-W., and
are probably of Christian-Saxon or later date (Dorset Procs., 84
Roman and Prehistoric
(18) Roman Burial (05220733), near Knobs Crook, was
found in 1959 under a low mound, during excavations by
R.C.H.M. The mound, about 20 ft. in diameter and 2 ft. high,
lay on the crest of a gentle S. slope of London Clay, about 140 ft.
above O.D. It had no ditch and the material for it probably came
from a shallow and irregular hollow to the W. Under the mound
towards its E. edge, a large pit contained burnt clay, oak charcoal, over 700 bronze fragments including parts of a vessel,
bosses and part of a plaque with red enamel inlay, iron nails,
solidified lumps of molten glass probably all from a triangular
flask, sherds of samian ware, a button, a bead and carved objects
of steatite, cremated bone and an unburnt bone disc from a
trepanned skull. Two smaller pits were found, one containing
sherds of a rare type of decorated samian (Knorr form 78), and
burnt and broken fragments of bronze, glass and iron.
The samian sherds from at least six vessels indicate a date
about A.D. 80, and the name Quin[tus] scratched on one sherd
may be that of the deceased, probably a Romanized continental
who died perhaps as the result of a trepanning operation (Dorset
Procs., 81 (1959), 99–100; Ant. J., XLV (1965), 22–52).
Monuments (19–22), Knowlton Circles
These consist of four enclosures, three of normal
henge form, which represent the remains of a ritual or
ceremonial centre of the late Neolithic period (Plate 80).
All but Monument (20) have been severely damaged by
cultivation. Their importance as such a centre is emphasised by the concentration of round barrows in the vicinity (Antiquity, XIII (1939), 153–4; R. J. C. Atkinson
and others, Excavations at Dorchester, Oxon., Vol. i (1951),
(19) South Circle (025100) is a large henge, now cut by the
Cranborne-Wimborne road. On the W. of the road much of
the area is occupied by farm buildings, and on the E. and S. it
has been almost completely levelled by ploughing. The enclosure
is roughly circular in plan and up to 750 ft. across overall, but it
is clear, especially on air photographs, that it was constructed as
a series of straight lengths linked by shorter curving lengths
On the N.W. side, where the earthwork is best preserved, the
bank is 45 ft. wide and up to 4 ft. high; it is separated by a
berm up to 12 ft. across from the inner ditch, which is up to
50 ft. across and 5 ft. deep. No certain original entrance is known,
but air photographs suggest that one lay on the S. side, just E. of
the modern road. (Profile, p. 115.)
Woodlands. Prehistoric Monuments near Knowlton
(20) Centre Circle or Church Henge (024103), occupied by the
ruins of Knowlton Church, is the best preserved of the enclosures. It is roughly oval in plan, 350 ft. by 310 ft. overall, and
like (19) consists of a series of straight lengths linked by rounded
corners. The bank is up to 35 ft. wide and 6 ft. high, and a slight
ledge below the inner crest for much of its circuit suggests that
it has at some time been heightened. The ditch within the bank
is up to 35 ft. wide and 4 ft. deep and, though damaged by
quarrying, appears always to have been irregular and interrupted
by a number of causeways. Of three possible entrances only that
on the E. is likely to be original. (Plan, p. 115.)
The church (1) stands on a low, roughly oval mound, within
a sub-rectangular enclosure defined by a low bank, presumably
the former churchyard (Plate 88).
Woodlands. (19) Knowlton South Circle. Profile of bank and ditch on N.W.
(21) North Circle (02301045) is now largely flattened by
ploughing and as a result its original form is uncertain. The
bank clearly lies outside the ditch and this suggests strongly that
it, too, is a henge. Air photographs (C.U.A.P., AQY 101;
N.M.R., SU 0210/4/211) show that it is an elongated oval, some
310 ft. long overall from N.N.W.-S.S.E. and 260 ft. across,
with a wide entrance on the S.E. side. The original dimensions
of the bank and ditch are unrecorded.
(22) Enclosure (02241037), known as 'Old Churchyard', lies
immediately S.W. of (21), but has been almost completely
flattened by ploughing. In plan it is a rounded square, about
190 ft. across overall and orientated N.W.-S.E.; it is bounded
by a low bank and an external ditch. There are indications of an
original entrance in the S. corner.
(23) Enclosure (02981055) lies among barrows (50–65), N.E.
of Knowlton Circles, and is almost certainly associated with
them. It has been levelled by ploughing, but it appears on an air
photograph (C.U.A.P., AQ 20), (Plate 79), as a sub-rectangular
ditched feature, about 80 ft. by 60 ft., with an entrance at the
Monuments (24–65), Round Barrows
Forty-two are known, nearly all in the N.W. of the
parish and in the vicinity of Knowlton Circles.
(24) Bowl (06340745), near David's Cross in the S.E. of the
parish, lies on a low hill of Bagshot Sands; diam. 32 ft., ht. 3½ ft.
(25) Bowl (06560889), on the E. side of Woodlands Common,
lies on a low hill of Bagshot Sands; diam. 43 ft., ht. 3½ ft.
Woodlands. (20) Centre Circle or Church Henge
Three barrows E. of Matterley Cottages have been levelled by
ploughing, but are visible as ring ditches on air photographs
(N.M.R., SU 0209/5/186–87).
(26) Barrow (02180918), with two concentric ditches; overall
diam. about 70 ft.
(27) Barrow (02380920); diam. about 45 ft.
(28) Barrow (02390918); diam. about 55 ft.
Knowlton Circles Group (29–65) consists of thirty-five barrows,
among them Great Barrow, the largest burial mound in Dorset.
Most of them have been flattened and the remainder damaged by
ploughing, but they appear on air photographs (C.U.A.P., AQ
17, 20, 23; AQY 101, AQZ 2; N.M.R., SU 0209/4, SU 0309/1,
ST 9906/2). It is highly likely that there are other barrows in the
area as yet undiscovered.
Barrows (29–38) lie S. and S.W. of the South Circle on both
sides of the Cranborne-Wimborne road. One of them, when
partly levelled, appears to have yielded four skeletons (G. A.
Cooke, Topographical Description of Dorset (c. 1818), 151).
(29) Bowl (02020948); diam. 90 ft., ht. 2 ft.
(30) Barrow (02120953), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(31) Barrow (02140955), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(32) Bowl (02060957); diam. 90 ft., ht. 2 ft.
(33) Barrow (02200961), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(34) Bowl (02100969); diam. 100 ft., ht. 4 ft.
(35) Barrow (02250968), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(36) Bowl (02320966), in which an intrusive skeleton was
found near the surface (T. D. Reed, The Rise of Wessex (1947),
286). Diam. 100 ft., ht. 10 ft.
(37) Barrow (02340973), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(38) Barrow (02400978), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
Barrows (39–49) lie N. of the South Circle and around the
Centre Circle; some appear on Plate 80 (cf. plan p. 114).
(39) Barrow (02301013), levelled by ploughing, has two
concentric ditches; overall diam. about 100 ft.
(40) Barrow (02291023), immediately S.W. of Lumber Lane,
has been levelled by ploughing; diam. about 70 ft.
(41) Barrow (02311031); diam. about 55 ft.
(42) Bowl (02401019); diam. 75 ft., ht. 1½ ft.
(43) Barrow (02591015), flattened by ploughing; diam. about
(44) Barrow (02621010), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(45) Barrow (02651011), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
(46) Great Barrow (02541028), a large mound 135 ft. across
and 21 ft. high, is encircled by twin ditches, both of them largely
obscured by cultivation (Plate 80). The inner ditch is separated
from the base of the mound by a berm about 15 ft. across; the
outer ditch, about 35 ft. wide and 5½ ft. deep (measured during
the excavation of a pipe-trench), is 400 ft. in overall diameter
(Dorset Procs., 84 (1962), 118–24).
(47) Barrow (02661026), is crossed on the E. side by the road
from Cranborne to Wimborne Minster; diam. about 60 ft.
(48) Barrow (02421036), flattened by ploughing, has two concentric ditches; diam. overall about 80 ft.
(49) Barrow (02511042), levelled by ploughing; diam. about
Barrows (50–65), lie N.E. of the circles. Four barrows and an
enclosure in Wimborne St. Giles (39–43) form part of this
sub-group. All have been levelled by ploughing and the dimensions given below are approximate (Plate 79).
(50) Barrow (02961049); diam. 30 ft.
(51) Barrow (02951049); diam. 30 ft.
(52) Barrow (02941050); diam. 40 ft.
(53) Barrow (02931053); diam. 80 ft.
(54) Barrow (03011053); diam. 80 ft.
(55) Barrow (02991053), adjoins an enclosure (23) on the S.E.;
diam. 30 ft.
(56) Barrow (02951059); diam. 40 ft.
(57) Barrow (02881064); diam. 40 ft.
(58) Barrow (02961065); diam. 40 ft.
(59) Barrow (02931064); diam. 40 ft.
(60) Barrow (02951063); diam. 50 ft.
(61) Barrow (02941066); diam. 25 ft.
(62) Barrow (02951068); diam. 20 ft.
(63) Barrow (02961065); diam. 35 ft.
(64) Barrow (02981064); diam. 40 ft.
(65) Barrow (03041061); diam. 80 ft.
(66) Linear Ditches, ploughed out, but visible on an air
photograph (N.M.R., SU 0309/1), run for nearly 1,000 yds.
from S. of Knoll Hill, N.W. to a point beside the CranborneWimborne road, just S. of South Circle (03050935–02400987).
Two almost parallel ditches, 20 ft. to 30 ft. apart, follow a sinuous
course across a gentle W. slope of the Chalk. Their line is
continued W. to the flood-plain of the R. Allen by a broad
hollow-way, probably of mediaeval or later date. Whether there
is any connection between it and the ditches has not been