Pages 236-239

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) XXXVII, N.E. (b)XXXVII, S.E. (c)XXXVIII, N.W. (d)XXXVIII, S.W.)

Symondsbury is a parish on the coast, immediately W. of Bridport. The church is the principal monument.


c(1) Parish Church of St. John The Baptist (Plates 58, 155) stands near the middle of the parish. The walls are of local rubble with dressings and ashlar of the same material; the roofs are slate-covered. The church seems to have been largely rebuilt in the 14th century. The earliest details are the E. and W. arches of the Central Tower; rather later the N. and S. arches were built and the tower, which is smaller than the crossing, added partly on corbelling and arches within the crossing. The Nave and Transepts are probably also of the 14th century but the nave appears to have been lengthened in the 15th century when the South Porch was added. The Chancel was perhaps rebuilt in the 17th century. The church was restored early in the 19th century when the window-tracery was removed and again in 1923 when most of the window-tracery was replaced and the gallery removed; the North Vestry is modern.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (27 ft. by 16 ft.) has a reset 15th-century E. window with modern mullions and tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label with head-stops; in the gable is a panel with an ornamental cross, probably part of a coffin-lid. In the N. wall is a 17th-century window with moulded jambs, two-centred head and modern mullion and tracery; at the W. end of the wall is a long splayed squint with a rough segmental head. In the S. wall are two 17th-century windows with architraves, four-centred heads, labels and modern mullions and tracery; the doorway has chamfered jambs and two-centred head and is perhaps of the 17th century; above it is reset a trefoiled head, perhaps of a 14th-century piscina; at the W. end of the wall is a squint with a stone lintel. Reset in the E. wall of the vestry is a 14th or 15th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head.

The Central Tower (14½ ft. square) is of three stages with an embattled parapet and gargoyles. The early 14th-century E. and W. arches (Plate 155) are two-centred and of two continuous chamfered orders; the rather later N. and S. arches are also two-centred and of two chamfered orders with moulded imposts and bases; the imposts of the S. arch have been reset and recut; the N. and S. walls have modern splays to show the responds of the E. and W. arches. Above the four arches on the inner face are as many rough pointed arches springing from corbelling and supporting the walls of the stage above. Above the S. haunch of the W. arch is a doorway with a two-centred head with steps in the thickness of the wall, which formerly led from the rood-loft to the second stage of the tower. The second stage has in the E. and N. walls a 14th-century window of one trefoiled light. The S. and W. walls have each a 14th-century single-light window, the former with an ogee and the latter with a trefoiled ogee head. In the N. wall is a modern doorway leading to the modern external staircase in the N.W. angle of the nave and transept. The bell-chamber has in each wall a 15th-century window of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a label and returned stops.

Symondsbury: the Parish Church of St John the Baptist

The North Transept (15¾ ft. by 15½ ft.) has, in the E. wall, an 18th-century window with reused moulded jambs and two-centred head; it is partly blocked and has been cut into by a modern doorway. In the N. wall is a window of the 18th century; in the gable is a panel with a reset consecration-cross. In the W. wall is a blocked window with a modern lancet-light in the blocking; further N. is a blocked doorway probably to an 18th-century gallery.

The South Transept (15 ft. square) has an E. window, all modern except the opening and the roughly arched head which is cut out of a stone with a traceried circular panel of the 14th century cut into by the head. The S. window is modern and in the gable is a panel with a reset consecration-cross. In the W. wall are traces of a former doorway.

The Nave (41½ ft. by 19¾ ft.) has, on the E. wall, below the roof, the weathering of an earlier roof. In the N. wall are two windows, all modern except the moulded 15th-century jambs and two-centred arches with labels and head-stops; below the modern staircase at the E. end is the blocked doorway to the former rood-loft staircase; it has a round head; the former N. doorway, now blocked, is probably of the 14th century and has a two-centred head. In the S. wall are two windows similar to those in the N. wall; further E. is the line of the E. splay of an earlier window; the 14th-century S. doorway has chamfered jambs, two-centred head and corbelled rear-arch; at the W. end of the wall is the blocked 18th-century doorway to a former gallery. In the W. wall is a large 15th-century window with moulded reveals, two-centred arch and label; the mullions and tracery are modern.

The South Porch is of the 15th century and has an embattled parapet and gargoyles. The two-centred outer archway is moulded and springs from shafted responds.

The Roofs of the chancel and transepts are plastered. The roof of the nave is of c. 1500 and is of segmental barrel-form and of seven bays with moulded ribs and cross-ribs forming panels; the wall-plates are embattled and enriched with shields and paterae and there are foliage-bosses at the intersections of the ribs. The flat roof of the porch is of early 17th-century date and has moulded ridge, plates and rafters.

Fittings—Bells: five; 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th by Thomas Bilbie of Cullompton, 1789; 5th by Bilbie, 1809. Communion Rails: forming a square enclosure, with turned and moulded posts, turned balusters and moulded top-rail ramped at the corners, c. 1730–40. Door: In S. doorway, of nail-studded battens, with ring-handle and lock-plate, 17th-century. Font: in S.E. corner of S. transept, octagonal with straight sides narrowing to the base, late 18th-century. Monuments: In N. transept—on E. wall, (1) to Edith, wife of John Thew, 1782, vari-coloured marble wall-tablet with apron and urn by I. F. Moore, London; on W. wall, (2) to Eadith, wife of Gregory Syndercombe, 1748, and others later, slate wall-tablet in white marble frame. In S. transept—on E. wall, (3) to John Pitfield, 1838, white marble wall-monument with side pilasters, cornice and sarcophagus, by Wilkins, Bridport. In churchyard—S.W. of nave, (4) to Robert Barnes (?), 1698 (?), table-tomb. Painting: In crossing—on W. respond of N. arch, remains of black-letter inscription on plaster, 16th or 17th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten the latter dated 1575 and the former with band of engraved ornament, a paten of 1719 given by Anna Hawkins in 1720, 17th-century pewter flagon and two pewter alms-dishes, probably early 18th-century. Pulpit: with plain panelled sides and standard, the sounding-board has recently been destroyed, a dove from it survives and is in a chest in the S. transept; the stair has turned balusters and moulded rail; c. 1725. Reredos: relegated to the N. transept, against the N. wall, of painted wood with central feature consisting of Doric side-pilasters on pedestals supporting an entablature with broken pediment and urn framing two round-headed panels painted with the Decalogue. The flanking panels are painted with the Creed and the Lord's Prayer; there is a continuous dado-rail; early 18th-century. Royal Arms: in chest in S. transept, of lead, Hanoverian. Sundial: On E. jamb of porch doorway, remains of scratch-dial. Miscellanea: In nave, in N. doorway, marble bowl carved in low relief with playing putti, probably Italian, presented in 1782.


c(2) The Manor House, 50 yards N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of stone, ashlar-faced, and the roofs are covered with tiles and slates. The main block was built or rebuilt early in the 17th century on a half-H shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.; late in the same century the rectangular S. block was added and in the 18th century the E. wing was built. The house has been extensively modernised. The S. front has late 17th-century stone-mullioned windows of four and five lights. Elsewhere some original stone windows have been retained. Inside the building, the fireplace in the hall is made up of pieces of 17th-century work including terminal pilasters etc.; the doorway on the N. of the hall is also made up of 17th-century materials including fluted pilasters.

The Barn, E. of the house, is a 17th-century stone building but has been extensively reconstructed.

c(3) Rectory, 90 yards W.N.W. of the church, is of three and two storeys with basements. The walls are of ashlar and the roofs are slate-covered. Hutchins says the rectory was built by Rev. William Hawkins sen. (1716–35) and enlarged by the Rev. Gregory Raymond (1806–63). The centre part of the house may be Hawkins' building, c. 1730, with a later porch, and the wings are of early 19th-century date. The E. front (Plate 159) is symmetrical and of restrained design; the earlier block in the middle has windows with square heads, small key-blocks and sash-frames almost flush with the wall-face, there are flat strings at the first and second floor levels and an eaves-cornice with plain frieze; the remodelled entrance has an open porch with free-standing Roman Doric columns and a round-headed doorway with fanlight, of early 19th-century date. The two-storeyed wings were completed by 1814 and have on the ground floor square-headed tripartite windows set in shallow recesses with segmental heads, the first floor windows are plain with flat stone arches. All the roofs are of low pitch. On the S. front is a verandah running the length of the ground floor with trellis-work supports to a flared pent-roof. Inside the building are a number of metal fanlights of good design.

c(4) School House, 50 yards S. of the church, was built in 1881 but incorporates a 17th-century window of two triangular-headed lights, from a cottage on the site.

Monuments (5–24)

The following monuments, unless otherwise described, are of the 17th century and of two storeys. The walls are of local rubble and the roofs are thatched. Many of the buildings have exposed ceiling-beams and original fireplaces.

c(5) Ilchester Arms Inn, on the E. side of the road, 120 yards S. of the church, was built in the 16th century but has been much altered. Inside the building, the roof is of five bays with curved trusses and curved wind-braces.

c(6) Cottages, on the W. side of the road, 100 yards N.W. of the church, have tiled roofs. Between the cottages is a doorway with an original frame and naii-studded door. The S. cottage has a stone-mullioned window. Inside the building is a muntin and plank partition.

c(7) Rainshill, cottage about ½ m. W.N.W. of the church, was built c. 1700.

c(8) Atrim Gore, house nearly 1¼ m. N. of the church, was built probably in the 15th century but was much altered in the 18th century. The walls are of cob construction on a stone base. Inside the building the kitchen has original moulded ceiling-beams, cross-beams and plates.

a(9) House, on the E. side of the road at Higher Moorbath, 1,130 yards W.S.W. of (8).

a(10) Cottage, 30 yards S.W. of (9), retains some original stone windows, one having a moulded label. Parts of the curved roof-trusses are exposed.

c(11) House, on the N. side of the road 60 yards E. of Broad Oak church, has a slate roof.

a(12) Lower Denhay Farm, house nearly ¾ m. W. of (11), retains an original muntin and plank partition.

a(13) Cottage, 100 yards S. of (12), was built c. 1700.

a(14) Higher Denhay Farm, house 360 yards N.W. of (12), has a slate roof. It was built c. 1700 and has a later S. wing.

a(15) Higher Denhay Dairy, house ¼ m. S.W. of (14), has been partly rebuilt in brick; the roofs are tiled.

a(16) North End Farm, house about 1½ m. N.W. of the church. The N. part has cob-walls refaced in brick and the S. part is an addition of 1640, which date appears on a panel in the front wall. The lower windows of this part are of five lights with stone mullions. Inside the building is a stone fireplace with a four-centred head and the initials and date N.C., I.C., 1640. There is a smaller stone fireplace on the first floor.

a(17) Wormstall Farm, house 370 yards W.S.W. of (16), was built c. 1600 and has later additions at each end. The E. part has 17th-century stone windows of four and five lights. Inside the building, the middle room has an original open-timbered ceiling with cross-beams; the E. room has remains of a 17th-century stone fireplace. The timber-framed outbuilding, N. of the house, is of the 18th century and has a pyramidal roof.

d(18) Cottage, on the E. side of the road 550 yards S. of the church, has a later cottage on the S.

d(19) Lower Eype Farm, house 300 yards W. of Eype church.

d(20) Cottage, 100 yards S.S.W. of (19).

d(21) Eype Cottage, 10 yards S.W. of (20).

d(22) Cottage, on W. side of the road ¼ m. S. of (21), has cob-walls and was built early in the 18th century.

d(23) Broomhills, house over 1½ m. S.E. of the church, was built c. 1700 with cob-walls now partly refaced. Inside the building are original muntin and plank partitions.

d(24) Vearse Farm, house 1,150 yards N.W. of (23), was built c. 1800. Reset in the garden-wall is a carved stone with various geometrical patterns and the initials BS. M.O. BR. BM. BC., probably late 17th century.


d(25) Earthworks, on the N. slope of Eype Down ¾ m. S.W. of the church, consist of a series of banks and ditches following roughly the 300 ft. contour and some 200 ft. below the summit. The whole system was no doubt produced, over a long period, by a series of alternative trackways on the hillside.

d(26) Bowl Barrow, on Eype Down, 150 yards S.W. of the W. part of (25), is about 75 ft. in diameter and 5 ft. high. It is covered with gorse.

b and d (27) Barrows, near Thorncombe Beacon, are three in number:—(a), 180 yards N. of the summit of the beacon, is a bowl barrow 106 ft. in diameter and 13 ft. high. It has been disturbed on the S. side; (b), 230 yards N.E. of (a), is a bowl barrow 82 ft. in diameter and 3½ to 4 ft. high; (c), 280 yards N.N.E. of (a), is a bowl barrow about 75 ft. in diameter and 4 ft. high. 350 yards E.S.E. of the summit of the beacon is a mound, apparently a "pillow mound", approximately 93 ft. by 16½ ft. and 1½ ft. high with traces of a surrounding ditch.