Compton Valence

Pages 104-105

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1952.

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In this section


(O.S. 6 in. (a)XXXIX, N.W. (b)XXXIX, N.E. (c)XXXIX, S.E.)

Compton Valence is a parish 7 m. W.N.W. of Dorchester.


b(1) Parish Church of St. Thomas of CanterBury stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of local rubble, with bands of flint and some ashlar in the tower; the dressings are of Ham Hill and local stone. The roofs are covered with stone-slates, with the exception of the tower which is lead-covered. The Tower was built in the 15th century, but the rest of the church was entirely rebuilt in 1838–9 and comprises Chancel, N. Vestry, Nave, N. Aisle and S. Porch. Benjamin Ferrey was the architect.

The church for the most part exemplifies the use of 14th-15th century Gothic style in traditional rather than in revived form.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (17 ft. by 13 ft.) has a semi-octagonal E. end containing in each face a three-light window with tracery in a four-centred head with a label, the buttresses at the angles are in two stages with the lower weathering gable-shaped; the moulded cornice at eaves-level is enriched with strapwork and ball-flowers. In the N. wall is a doorway with two-centred chamfered head into the vestry and in the S. wall a doorway to the pulpit-stairs. The chancel-arch is moulded and two-centred; the hollow chamfered responds have attached shafts with carved capitals and moulded bases.

The North Vestry (10¾ ft. by 9¼ ft.) has in the E. wall a window with two trefoiled lights in a square head and, in the N. wall, a doorway with two-centred chamfered opening and a label with headstops. The archway in the W. wall is two-centred and of one chamfered order.

The Nave (45½ ft. by 16 ft.) has a N. arcade of four bays with moulded two-centred arches, the main hollow-chamfer moulding is continued down the piers and responds which have attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. In the S.E. corner, set diagonally between the E. and S. walls, is the stone doorway to the pulpit, with two-centred opening in a square head under a moulded cornice with a scroll containing a painted inscription. The S. wall has heavy buttresses in two stages with moulded weatherings and contains three windows, each of two ogee trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a label. The S. doorway has moulded jambs and a two-centred moulded arch.

The North Aisle (12 ft. wide) has five one-stage buttresses, and four windows in the N. wall, each of one ogee trefoiled light.

The West Tower (8 ft. by 9¾ ft.) is of two stages with an embattled parapet and a modern stair-turret. The 19th-century tower-arch is two-centred and of one chamfered order. The W. window is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a label and head-stops; the mullion and tracery are modern. The bell-chamber has, in each wall, a window of two trefoiled lights in a square head; the lights are filled with pierced quatrefoils.

The S. Porch has diagonal-buttresses and a S. gable with shaped kneelers, coping and foiled apex-stone. The outer archway has moulded jambs and moulded two-centred head; in the wall above is a niche with trefoiled head and hollow-chamfered jambs.

The chancel is covered by a ribbed vault, springing from carved and moulded corbels; at the E. end, the wall-ribs form the rear-arches of the windows. The Roofs of the nave and aisle are of wood and are contemporary with the building. The ground-stage of the tower has a 19th-century ribbed vault with a central boss carved with an angel holding a scroll and the porch has vaulting with hollow-chamfered ribs springing from moulded corbels.

Fittings—Bells: four; 3rd by George Purdue, 1620; 4th by Thomas Purdue, 1676. Brass and Indents. Brass: In nave—to Thomas Maldon, rector, c. 1440, who rebuilt the church, half-figure of priest in mass-vestments with scrolls. Indents: In nave— of plate in Purbeck marble slab. In S. porch—of square plate, 16th or 17th century. Font: octagonal bowl with splayed underside carved with paterae, octagonal stem and concave plinth with shield-shaped or rectangular decorations, 15th-century. Monuments: In N. aisle—on N. wall, (1) to Ann (Chappell), wife of Samuel Best, 1740, stone wall-monument with flanking Ionic pilasters, architrave, broken pediment and hour-glass; (2) to Mary (Whithed), wife of Alexander Thistlethwaite, 1720, wall-monument with flanking pilasters and broken pediment framing a cartouche containing an achievement-of-arms. Piscina: In chancel—in S. wall, with ogee trefoiled head, 19th-century. Plate: includes a plain cup of 1730. Pulpit: of stone, fivesided on flared stem, each face with ogee cinque-foiled panel, with embattled cornice, 19th-century.


b(2) Old Manor House, immediately N. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and flint and the roofs are covered with slates and stone slates. It was built early in the 17th century and has a modern extension on the S. The E. front has a two-storeyed porch with an original outer entrance; it has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with a label; the windows, flanking the porch are original and of three lights with labels. The inner doorway to the porch is similar to the outer but with no label. Inside the building is an old staircase with plain balusters and newels. One fireplace has an early 18th-century surround. The Barn, N.E. of the house, is a 17th-century structure of stone and flint.


a(3) Settlement, about 1 m. N.W. of the church, appears to consist of a series of small enclosures of which only one is at all complete (for plan see preface, p. xxxiv). It is roughly rectangular and about 79 ft. by 64 ft. and surrounded with a bank and ditch; the entrance is at the E. angle. Within the area are two sinkings separated by a rough platform and the western of these has indications of a sub-division. A smaller enclosure to the S.E. was perhaps also a habitation-site, but the other remains further to the S.E. are of indeterminate character.

b(4) Mounds, probably the remains of bowl barrows, between ½ and ¾ m. W. of the church, are two in number and have been much ploughed. The eastern is about 60 ft. in diam. and 2½ ft. high and the second, 220 yards to the N.W., is 50 ft. in diam. and 1 ft. high.

b(5) Celtic Field-System on the N. side of the parish ½ m. N. of the church, covers a considerable extent of hill-side and round its edges to the S. are some lynchets.

b(6) Lynchets, immediately S. of Cowleaze Withy Bed and ¼ m. N.W. of the church, form seven terraces on a N. slope.

c(7) Lynchets, on a W. slope 1,100 yards S.E. of the church, form three terraces.