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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'Bettiscombe', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 1, West, (London, 1952) pp. 28-29. British History Online [accessed 15 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 in. XXVIII, N.E.)

Bettiscombe is a small parish 6 m. W. of Beaminster. The Manor House is the principal monument.


(1) Parish Church of St. Stephen, stands near the middle of the parish. It was entirely rebuilt in 1862, but reset in the N. and S. walls of the chancel are two windows partly of c. 1400; both windows are of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head and the S. window has a label with returned stops, one enclosing a defaced shield, perhaps Courtenay with a label. The W. window of the tower seems to be of the same date, reset; it is of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label and returned stops.

Fittings—Floor-slab: In nave—(1) to Jane, wife of John Pinney, 1693–4; (2) to Nathaniel Pinney, 1724, and Naomi his wife, 1741, with shield-of-arms. Miscellanea: At base of tower—sheet of lead with churchwarden's name, date 1783 and plumber's initials, W.R. A 15th-century window-head, said to have come from Bettiscombe, is incorporated in the E. garden wall of Pilsdon Manor House.


(2) Bettiscombe Manor House (Plate 79), ¼ m. N.E. of the church, is of two storeys with cellars and attics; the walls are of brick and the roofs are slate-covered. The house, consisting of a main block and two wings, forming three sides of a square, was begun early in the 18th century, but building appears to have gone on for some years and some refitting may have taken place in the second half of the century. There are 18th-century additions on the W. The S. front has a moulded band between the storeys and later windows with flush frames and segmental heads; the doorway (Plate 80) has a hood formed of a Doric entablature and pediment, resting on carved and scrolled brackets; later posts support the front of the hood. On the N. front the doorway has side-pilasters and a shell-hood resting on scrolled brackets; some of the windows are blocked. The two side-wings are of similar character to the main block but retain some windows with flat arches; the window lighting the staircase in the E. wing has a round head and key-block. Inside the building, the Entrance Hall (Plate 79) has a central arcade of three bays with panelled piers and elliptical arches with key-blocks and panelled spandrels; the ceiling has moulded beams forming square panels, the beams E. of the arcade have leaf-enrichments and are probably 16th-century material reused; the opening into the E. wing is round-headed and the walls are lined with panelling with a cornice and dado-rail. The E. room has later 18th-century panelling. The staircase (Plate 53) in the E. wing appears to be of c. 1720–30 and has turned balusters, fluted newels and ramped handrails; the walls are panelled and the dado follows the lines of the stair-rail. On the first floor there is a corridor on the N. side of the main block with arched openings into the wings similar to those of the hall arcade but with semi-circular arches. The principal bedrooms have fireplaces with bolection-moulded surrounds and panelled overmantels with central oval or square panels; the walls are panelled and finished with dadorails and cornices; small closets retain their 18th-century fittings (Plate 80). Many of the doors are original and retain their original brass furniture, and a bedroom retains an original grate (Plate 80).

The Enclosure-wall, in front of the house, is of early to mid 18th-century date and has an iron railing on dwarf walls and gate-piers with moulded cornices and cappings. The brick-built Barns, W. of the house, are probably of early 18th-century date.

(3) House, two tenements, 20 yards S.E. of (2), is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are of corrugated iron. It was built in the 17th century, but has been much altered.

(4) Water House Farm, house ¼ m. W.S.W. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are thatched. It was built in the 17th century but has been extended to the N. and S. The E. front retains two original windows with labels. Inside there are exposed ceiling-beams and timber-framing.

(5) Lower House Farm, house 300 yards S.E. of the church, is of two storeys; the walls are of rubble and the roofs are thatched. It was built probably in the 17th century.

Earthworks, etc.

(6) The Stone on Sliding Hill, nearly ½ m. N.E. of the church, is of the local limestone and was probably deposited and left protruding in a landslip.