An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.
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14 HOLME, EAST (8985)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 88 SE, bSY 88 NE, cSY 98 SW, dSY 98 NW)
The roughly rectangular parish of East Holme covers only just over 1,000 acres of land on the S. side of the river Frome, nearly 2 m. W.S.W. of Wareham. Apart from the flood plain of the river, and a narrow river terrace on which the original mediaeval settlement was established, the parish is composed of rolling heathland on Bagshot sands and gravels, rising gradually to a height of 200 ft. on Holme Heath in the S.E.
There is no distinct village, almost the only buildings in the parish are those in the vicinity of the house now called Holme Priory. This stands near the site of a Cluniac Priory (see Monument 1).
b(1) The Parish Church of St. John the Evangelist stands in the N.W. part of the parish. It is a building of 1865–6 by J. Hicks. The walls include some worked stone probably from the church of the Cluniac Priory which stood 150 yds. to the W. The Priory, a cell of Montacute Abbey, was founded in the mid 12th century; after the Dissolution the church continued in parochial use until 1715, and parts of it stood until pulled down in 1746 when the chancel arch was re-erected in the Chapel at Creech Grange (Steeple, Monument 2). The following also came from the old church.
Fittings—Brass: In W. wall, to Richard Sideways, 1612, rectangular plate (found on the site of the priory church, 1812). Coffin-lids: in churchyard, (1) upper half of tapering Purbeck marble slab with hollow-chamfered edge, carved with a cross, broken, probably 13th-century; (2) tapering slab with hollow-chamfered edge and effigy in low relief, probably of an ecclesiastic, 13th-century. Miscellanea: in churchyard, moulded stone fragments, 13th and 14th-century.
b(2) Holme Priory, house (130 yds. W.), of two storeys with attics and cellars, has walls rendered in stucco and roofs mainly of slate. The house stands near the site of the Cluniac Priory. A small building now forming part of the kitchen (N.) wing was built of rubble in the late 16th century, probably re-using material from the former Priory. The main L-shaped block to the S. was built in brick c. 1770 by Nathaniel Bond to form the W. and S. sides of a courtyard; at the same time a separate stable block was put up to the N. Between 1790 and 1823, under the second Nathaniel Bond, the kitchen wing was extended eastwards and the staircase was moved from the entrance hall in the middle of the S. range to a new stairhall built in the courtyard. Between c. 1830 and 1844 the third (Rev.) Nathaniel Bond raised and renewed the roof, replacing the tiles with slate, built the S. porch, stuccoed the E., S. and W. façades, formed the library out of two smaller rooms, moved the staircase to its present position and gave the house its romantic name. The staircase was probably rebuilt in c. 1865 by a fourth Nathaniel Bond. There has been recent modernisation, particularly in the service range.
The E., S. and W. façades of the main house are stuccorendered with rusticated quoins, a plinth, a plat-band at first-floor level, and a cornice with a high parapet wall containing plain rectangular recessed panels. The original disposition of the hung-sash windows survives but the glazing bars have been removed on the ground floor. The principal (S.) elevation is of five bays with a central entrance, with a porch of the mid 19th century. The central window on the first floor has a semicircular head. The slate roof has a steep pitch and the two symmetrically placed dormers are capped by low pediments. The small late 16th-century house which forms the central part of the N. range is built of coursed limestone and greensand rubble and has a tiled roof with stone slates on the lower courses. Original stone-mullioned windows survive on both N. and S. sides, that on the N. having three lights with arched heads, that on the S. having three square-headed lights. The interior decoration of the main rooms on both ground and first floors is largely of the early 19th century although some fittings have survived from the 18th century.
b(3) Priory Farm (220 yds. W.N.W.) is an 18th-century house of one storey and attics with walls of stone and thatched roofs. Some of the stone may be reused from the Priory.
b(4) Cottage (205 yds. N.W.), of two storeys with cob walls and thatched roof, is of the early 19th century.
b(5) Barn (400 yds. W.), with brick walls above a high stone plinth and with a tiled roof, is of the 18th century, heightened and re-roofed in the late 19th century.
(6–11) Round Barrows, p. 444.
(12) Mounds, N. of Battle Plain, p. 481.
(13) Roman Remains, p. 601.