Pages 105-108

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)XX, N.E. (b)XX, S.E. (c)XXI, S.W. (d)XXIX, N.E.)

Corscombe is a parish and village 4 m. N.E. of Beaminster. The church, Benville Manor House, Corscombe Court and Toller Whelme Manor House are the principal monuments.


b(1) Parish Church of St. Mary stands on the S.E. side of the village. The walls are of local rubble with ashlar and dressings of Ham Hill stone; the roofs are covered with stone-slates and lead. The church was largely rebuilt in the 15th century and to this period belong parts of the arcade and of the N. wall of the Nave, the West Tower and the North Porch. The rest of the church was rebuilt either in the middle of the 18th century or in 1878, when the Chancel and South Aisle were rebuilt and the South Chapel added.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Nave (48 ft. by 18 ft.) retains the W. part of the 15th-century N. wall; the N. doorway has moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head with quatre-foiled spandrels; flanking it are standards set diagonally and each face with two heights of trefoil-headed panels; at the top are angel-head brackets formerly supporting images; at the level of the door-head above are two-sided crocketed and finialled canopies with traceried soffits; above the doorway are three niches with half-angels as brackets, side-standards and trefoiled gables with crockets and finials and traceried soffits; further W. is a modern window. The S. arcade is of five bays of which the three westernmost are much restored but of early to mid 15th-century date; the arches are two-centred and moulded and spring from hollow-chamfered piers each with four attached shafts having moulded capitals and hollow-chamfered bases; the W. respond is in the form of a half-pier.

The West Tower (11 ft. square) is of mid 15th-century date and of three stages with an embattled parapet, angle-pinnacles and gargoyles. The partly restored two-centred tower-arch is moulded and springs from moulded responds each with an attached shaft with a moulded capital and chamfered base. The W. window has moulded reveals and two-centred head; the mullion and tracery are modern; the W. doorway has partly restored moulded jambs and old two-centred head. The second stage has a square-headed window in the E. and N. walls. The bell-chamber has in the E., N. and W. walls a window of two trefoiled lights with blocked tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals; the former S. window has been removed.

The North Porch is of the 15th century and has a low-pitched gable with gargoyles. The outer archway has moulded jambs and two-centred arch with a label. In the E. wall are two windows of two trefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a square head with a label. In the W. wall is a shallow recess with a four-centred head.

Fittings—Bells: six; the old peal was recast and a sixth bell added by Thomas Bilbie, 1773. Font: octagonal bowl with one or two trefoil-headed panels in each face, moulded lower edge, 15th-century, partly restored, stem and base modern. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In W. tower—on N. wall, (1) to Joseph Bishop, 1823, Sarah his wife, 1800, and others, wall-tablet by Chislett of Beaminster, sculptor; (2) to Elizabeth (Bowring), widow of William Weaver, 1837, white marble wall-tablet with flanking pilaster-strips and a draped sarcophagus and bay tree on the cornice, by Wilkins; on S. wall, (3) to John Dobson, S.T.B., rector, 1681, stone tablet with shield-of-arms; (4) to Rev. William Nicholson, rector, 1810, white marble wall-tablet with crest; (5) to Rev. John Munden, rector, 1821, and four sons, white marble wall-tablet with bible, by Wilkins, Beaminster. In churchyard— E. of chancel, (6) to Joseph Russell, 1673, table-tomb; (7) to Grace, wife of George Cox, 1694, headstone; (8) to John Games, 1652, Francis his brother, 1686, Ellen his grand-daughter, 1702, Ellen Games, 1708 and Mary Games, 1719, table-tomb; (9) to Henry Gurry, 1695, headstone; (10) to Magdalin, wife of John Dough, 1700, headstone; N. of nave, (11) to John Baker, 1690, and others later, table-tomb; N. of chancel, (12) to Mary, wife of William Burt, c. 1700, headstone; (13) to Mary, daughter of William Snatdon, 1714, Christian, daughter of the above, 1710, Robert Snatdon, 1715, Christian his wife, 1688, and Elias, 1700, and Matthew, 1708, their sons, table-tomb; S. of S. aisle, (14) to Ann, wife of John Wills, 1714, headstone; (15) to John Hallet, 1690, headstone. Floor-slab: In N. porch—to Joane (Quick), wife of Richard Locket, rector, 1655–6. Seating: In tower— two coffin-stools with turned legs, 17th-century. Table: In vestry—with cabriole legs and inlaid front rail, early 18th-century.


c(2) Homestead Moat, in a field called Court Ley nearly 1½ m. S.E. of the church and 300 yards W. of (17), is square and is now dry.

b(3) Benville Manor House and moat, 1 m. S.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of rubble and ashlar with some brick and the roofs are tiled. It was built early in the 17th century on an H-shaped plan with the cross-wings at the N. and S. ends. At some uncertain period the E. part of the N. cross-wing was pulled down. The rest of this wing has been much modernised and there are modern additions in the N. angles of the S. cross-wing. The S. front has a modern central porch and doorway; above it is an original three-light window and a modern gable and chimney-stack; on either side of the porch are two 17th-century bay-windows of two storeys with hipped roofs; they have four lights on the face and one in each canted side. The E. end of the cross-wing has been refronted, but one of the two windows in the W. gable is original. The main block has been refaced on the E. side in 18th-century brick as has the upper part of the W. side; here there is a reset original doorway with moulded jambs and four-centred arch in a square head. Inside the building the S. cross-wing retains some moulded ceiling-beams perhaps of the 16th century and reused. The S.W. room has some reset 17th-century panelling. In the S.E. room is some 15th or early 16th-century heraldic glass set in a jumble of fragments inserted about 1880; the arms are as follows—(a) Churchill (?) quartering argent a cheveron between three roundels sable and two damaged coats; (b) Carrant; (c) Penny (?); (d) Arundel; (e) Argent a leopard rampant sable impaling sable a cheveron gules between three spear-heads argent. Preserved in the house are a chasuble, stole and maniple of 15th-century English work; the chasuble has fleurs-de-lis, flowers, seraphim and figures of saints under canopies.

The Moat, N. of the house, is rectangular and has been partly filled in.

b(4) Corscombe Court, house, barn and moat, 730 yards N.N.E. of the church. The House is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with stone slates. It was formerly a grange of Sherborne Abbey and the N. wing retains the external walls of a late 13th or early 14th-century building with a porch on the W. side. This wing was remodelled internally in the 17th century and c. 1700 the cross-wing was added at the S. end. There is a modern addition at the N. end. The S. front of the cross-wing has three-light stone windows with labels; set in the wall is a mediæval head-corbel. The chimney at the W. end of this wing was added in 1775. The N. wing has an original lancet-window, now blocked, in the N. wall. In the W. wall is an original doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head. The porch has an original outer doorway with double chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded label. The roof of the N. wing is of five bays and is partly of mediæval construction, with braces forming four-centred arches under the collar-beams and curved wind-braces. The roof of the porchwing is of similar character. This wing has some exposed ceiling-beams and a fireplace with a cambered lintel.

The Barn, N.W. of the house, is of the 15th century with buttressed rubble walls and a S. porch with diagonal buttresses. The porch has a segmental-headed and much altered outer archway; in the E. wall is a doorway with a four-centred head.

The Moat formerly surrounded the house, but the S. side has been largely filled in.

d(5) Toller Whelme Manor House, over 2 m. S. of the parish church, is mainly of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are covered with thatch and slates. The N.W. wing of c. 1470 apparently formed the original house (for plan see preface, p. xxxix). A house was built immediately to the S.E. of it in the 17th century and this was extended to the N. in the 18th century. A modern addition now connects the two buildings and quite recently the greater part of the upper storey of the original wing has been removed and the remains roofed with corrugated iron. The original range has diagonal buttresses at the S. end with moulded weatherings; between them is the projection of a chimney-stack. At the N. end is an original fireplace with moulded jambs and square head; above it was a similar but smaller fireplace. In the E. wall is a blocked doorway with a two-centred head and further N. is a reset doorway now used as a window; it has moulded jambs and two-centred head and adjoining it is the reveal of an original doorway. There are some remains of original windows and the head of one of these has been reset in an outbuilding. A doorway with a four-centred head has been reset in the modern vestibule at the S. end of the range and the pointed head of a window is incorporated in a kitchen-addition. The 17th-century building (Plate 40) retains some stonemullioned windows with labels.

Monuments (6–18)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are thatched or covered with modern materials. Some of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original fireplaces.

b(6) High Orchards, house on the N.E. side of the road 220 yards N.N.E. of the church, retains two original stone windows, one of four lights with a label. Inside the building is an original oak screen or partition having a doorway with a four-centred head.

b(7) Church Farm, house 300 yards N. of the church, has a N.E. wing added probably in 1785.

b(8) Pope's Cottage, 220 yards N.W. of (7), has a front block added presumably in 1795, the date with the initials T.J.P. appearing on a tablet. The old block retains an original three-light stone window.

b(9) Milton Farm, house on the S. side of the road 650 yards N.W. of the church, has been much altered.

b(10) Cottage, on the N. side of the road opposite (9), retains two original three-light windows with labels.

b(11) Yew Tree Farm, house 150 yards W. of (10), has an 18th or early 19th-century wing on the S.W.

b(12) Cottage, on the S. side of the road 1,080 yards N.W. of the church, retains an original two-light window with a label.

b(13) Council Farm, house 40 yards W. of (12), was built probably early in the 18th century.

b(14) Cottage, at Knapp Farm 180 yards N.W. of (13), retains two original stone-mullioned windows with labels.

a(15) Wayland Farm, house 2 m. N.W. of the church, was built early in the 18th century.

b(16) Corscombe Mill Farm, house ¾ m. N.N.E. of the church, retains several original three-light windows with labels. Inside the building is an original muntin and plank partition.

c(17) Benville Knap Farm, house over 1½ m. S.E. of the church, has an 18th-century addition on the E. The S. front has two original four-light windows with a continuous label; there are two three-light windows above. Inside the building is an original muntin and plank partition.

c(18) House, on S. side of lane 1 m. 520 yards S.E. of the church, has rubble walls with ashlar quoins; the S. wing is an 18th-century addition. It retains some original three-light stone-mullioned windows.

Earthworks Etc.

b(19) Standing Stones, 900 yards W. of the church and 70 yards S.S.W. of Beckham's Coppice, are three in number, set upright as though to form the end of a chamber; the largest is 5¾ ft. high by 4½ ft. wide; the second 3½ ft. high and 5 ft. wide and the third 4 ft. high and 2½ ft. wide. About 8 yards to the W. are two prone stones about 5 ft. long, and 50 yards to the S.S.W. is a solitary stone also prone and about 8 ft. by 4 ft. The intervening space appears to have been much disturbed.

b(20) Stones, nearly 1 m. S.S.W. of the church. The O.S. 6″ map shows four stones; now two, one on either side of the road, are visible. They may have formed part of a structure. The N. stone is 7¾ ft. by 7 ft. and about 3 ft. thick, the other is 11¼ ft. by 8½ ft. and about 3½ ft. thick; both are prone.

b(21) Lynchets, on an E. slope 1,100 yards W. of the church, form two series together extending for about 550 yards.

b(22) Lynchets, on a N. slope extending for ½ m. to the W. of (21), form four series, roughly following the contours.

East Chelborough, see Chelborough, East.