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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'Morden', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, (London, 1970) pp. 160-173. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section

22 MORDEN (9195)

(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 89 NE, bSY 99 SW, cSY 99 NW)

The parish, covering some 3,500 acres, lies across the N. edge of the S. Dorset heathland, 5 m. N. of Wareham. It occupies a roughly rectangular area of land with a projection to the N.E., now occupied by Charborough Park. The whole of the N. third of the parish, including the Park, lies on Chalk, rising gently southwards from the river Winterborne and one of its tributaries, around 100 ft. above O.D., to a low N.E.-S.W. ridge at 200 ft. above O.D. Beyond, the land falls S. across rather broken country on Reading Beds, London Clay and Bagshot Beds drained by small tributaries of the Sherford River, which now forms the S. boundary of the parish. Until the late 19th century the parish included a further 2,800 acres of heathland to the S., extending to the river Piddle, now in Wareham St. Martin parish.

The present dispersed settlement pattern in the S. half of the parish has clearly developed from two nucleated settlements of Morden and West Morden at the junction of the Chalk and Reading Beds, both probably being among the Mordens listed in Domesday Book. Later settlement developed to the S.; there was a hamlet at Sherford by 1244 and at East Morden by 1250. But the process was undoubtedly slow and many of the outlying farms are probably new settlements of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The N.E. projection of the parish is still a separate ecclesiastical parish; it was the land associated with the Domesday settlement of Charborough. Charborough House with its park, now occupying the site, is the nucleus of a property which has remained in the same family for more than 350 years and to which succeeding generations have devoted their time and attention. The appearance today remains one of good husbandry, and the park, some 300 acres in extent, still carrying deer, surrounded by some 700 acres of agricultural land, adds much to the beauty of this area of Dorset. Charborough House dates from the Commonwealth though greatly altered and extended in c. 1810, that is, in a period (1795 to 1814) when agricultural produce was commanding unnaturally high prices. In the 18th century it was surrounded by formal gardens; the building of the look-out tower in 1790 seems to imply the inception of a more Romantic arrangement, which reached a climax in the increase in the size of the park and the picturesque planting, now in maturity, in c. 1840. This 'improvement' and enlargement no doubt also derived from capital accumulated in the period of the Napoleonic wars; the extra land came up to the Dorchester-Wimborne turnpike which was completed in 1841–2 by the exertions of the lifetenant of Charborough himself, who had also been buying various Dorset properties recently enclosed.

The village of Charborough seems to have been small but flourishing until at least the mid 14th century; by 1662 it was deserted except for two households, one of which was Sir Walter Erle's in Charborough House. Presumably the parish church became redundant and deteriorated until rebuilt in 1775 by the Drax family, more or less for private use as a chapel, being so described when remodelled in 1837. It has since been used as such but is in fact still the parish church.

Charborough church and Charborough House are the principal monuments.


c(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary stands in Morden hamlet in the E. part of the parish. The lower part of the West Tower is of the late 13th century; the rest of the church was completely rebuilt in 1873, the architect and builder being Joseph Siller.

Architectural Description—The Tower, built of carstone, has a chamfered plinth and short two-stage angle buttresses. The tower arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders with continuous jambs. In the S. wall is a blocked doorway of later date, with segmental head. In the W. wall a small original window has been enlarged with a modern flat head but retains the original rear arch.

Fittings—Bells: five; 2nd by James Wells of Aldbourne, Wilts., 1807; 3rd with black-letter inscription '[A]ve Maria', 15th-century; 4th with inscription 'Saunctus Petre', 15th-century; 5th 1663. Brasses: see Monuments (1). Chair: of oak with shaped cresting to back and shaped stretchers, c. 1700, arms renewed. Chest: in vestry, modern, but with panels in the front and ends carved with antique heads in roundels, 16th-century. Coffin-lids: in churchyard—S.E. of porch, (1) with raised cross and stepped Calvary, 6 ft. 4 ins. long; S.W. of porch, (2) as (1) but with cross flanked by six plain shields, 5 ft. long; 13th or 14th-century. Cross: head of processional cross, of brass, pierced and bordered with fretted crosses, Abyssinian, 19th-century. Font: in nave, octagonal bowl, formerly with panelled sides but recut, with moulded under edge, 12th-century, on modern stem and surrounding shafts. Hatchment: in N. aisle, of Drax, 19th-century.

Monuments: In nave, (1) to Thomas, son of Walter Earle, 1597/8, figures and brass inscription plates from monument in former chancel, reset on two 19th-century pedestals flanking tower arch; to N., kneeling figure of man wearing three-quarter armour and burgonet; to S., half length figures of two boys and a girl wearing ruffs. In N. aisle—on W. wall, (2) to Capt. Wanley Elias Sawbridge of the 28th Regiment of Foot, 1842, white marble tablet with urn flanked by banners. Miscellanea: Loose in N. aisle—small headstone with circular top, incised with a cross, mediaeval; fragment of plain gable cross, mediaeval.

c(2) Parish Church of St. Mary, Charborough (Plate 107), stands in Charborough Park 30 yds. S.W. of the great house. The walls are stucco-faced, with limestone dressings, and the roofs are slate-covered. The mediaeval church here, at least as old as the 13th century and with chancel, nave and vestiges of a S. aisle, was rebuilt by Thomas Erle Drax in 1775. In 1837 the later building was remodelled by John Sawbridge Erle Drax who put in new glass and installed fittings made up of a miscellany of older carved woodwork (see Inscription under Fittings below); and so it remains (Plate 110). The style of the structure is Gothic with some Classical detail.

Charborough church is a small but interesting expression of the Romantic phase of taste, both architecturally and in its fittings; the latter, in the choice of the florid older carvings composing them, anticipate the exuberance of a later Victorian age. It contains a notable monument by Richard Westmacott, R.A.

Architectural Description—The Chancel and Nave are structurally undivided and form a single compartment (39 ft. by 12¼ ft.) gabled to E. and W. and entered only from the W. through a small open porch. On the W. gable is a bell-cote with a small spire. The walls have a plain plinth and an embattled parapet with quatrefoil panels on the face of the merlons. Clasping the four corners and in the middle of the N. and S. sides are pilasters supporting a simplified entablature returned over them but discontinued across the E. and W. walls; they are continued up by articulation of the N. and S. parapet walls to form pedestals for octagonal spirelets on quatre-foiled dies; a similar spirelet surmounts the E. gable.

Parish Church of St. Mary, plan

The E. window is of three lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head all within a continuous hollow-chamfered moulding; the rear arch is two-centred. The N. and S. walls each contain two windows, of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil spandrel in a two-centred head. The W. doorway has a square moulded head and jambs and the W. window above it is similar to the E. window. Over the W. window, outside, is a round panel inscribed 'This Chapel wwas (sic) rebuilt in the year of Our Lord 1775'.

The flat-roofed Porch (5 ft. square) has piers and responds of clustered shafts with moulded bases and caps supporting four-centred arches under a cornice with an embattled parapet.

The Bell-cote is rectangular, with a simple cornice and two-centred open arches in the sides; the spire is octagonal.

Inside, the church has plastered walls ruled to represent ashlar. The timber pitched Roof provides the only structural elaboration; it is divided into twenty-one bays by widelyspaced moulded rafters, the spaces between being boarded and sub-divided by two plain purlins into three heights of panels each enriched by a central boss carved with foliage or a fret. On alternate rafters are applied shields or lozenges painted with the arms of: on the N., (a) Drax, (b) Grosvenor with an escutcheon of Drax, (c) on a lozenge, Grosvenor with an escutcheon of Drax quarterly of twelve, Ernle, Hungerford, Heytesbury, Hussey, Peverell, Botreaux, Molyns, Erle, Wykes, Plessey, Dymoke, (d) Drax quartering Ernle and Erle all impaling Churchill, (e) as the impaling coat of (d), (f) on a lozenge, Drax impaling Churchill, (g) Drax with an escutcheon of Ernle quarterly of six, Heytesbury, Hungerford, Tooker, Erle, (h) on a lozenge, as (g), (i) Ernle with the baronet's badge quartering Tooker with an escutcheon of Erle over all, (j) on a lozenge, as (i); on the S., (k) Erle with an escutcheon of Wykes, (l) on a lozenge, as (k), (m) Erle impaling Pole, (n) on a lozenge, as (m), (o) Erle with an escutcheon of Dymoke, (p) on a lozenge, as (o), (q) Erle impaling Fiennes, (r) on a lozenge, as (q), (s) Erle impaling Wyndham, (t) on a lozenge, as (s). The roof and the arms are all of 1837 (see Fittings— Inscription).

Fittings—Brackets: two, in nave, on N. and S. walls, of wood, carved with cherub heads at life size, late 17th-century, shelves 19th-century. Candelabrum: hanging centrally in nave, of wood elaborately carved, with turned and moulded, gadrooned and fluted stem carrying twelve scrolled branches carved with acanthus and ending in dragons' heads, six smaller branches above and scrolled gryphon-headed brackets at the apex, 19th-century, now fitted for electricity. Chairs: two, in chancel, backs composed of cartouches with shells and fruit and flower pendants, square tapered enriched legs and front rails carved with figures and acanthus, of late 17th-century material made up and supplemented in the 19th century. Communion Rails: across chancel, of wood, in two heights, blind panels carved with cartouches below, and open balustrading above, the balusters turned, moulded and enriched with jewel and acanthus ornament, moulded base rail, top rail carved with acanthus and lions' masks and gate-posts with human-headed scrolls, mid 17th-century. Communion Table: with black marble top on a timber framework with 19th-century bulbous legs in the Elizabethan style with added carvings of beasts' masks, cherubs holding an anchor and a cross, etc., the front rail with acanthus enrichment and a central pendant carved with a cherub's head, 17th-century material made up and supplemented in the 19th century.

Glass: In the E. window, large standing figures on pedestals, with their symbols above under elaborate crocketed canopies, in middle light Christ in red robe and blue mantle under IHS in a yellow triangle, all in a field of brown diapered glass, in N. light St. Peter in green robe and brown mantle under crossed keys on an open book, in S. light St. Paul in brown robe and purple mantle under a sword on a closed book, the second and third on a blue diapered field, all 1837; in tracery, stylised foliation in brown, green and yellow with various formal figures and, in top quatrefoil, achievement-of-arms quarterly of six of Sawbridge Erle Drax, all 1837. In N. and S. windows, in main lights white quarries with brown lozenges, in tracery double roses, all in borders of brown and blue, 1837. In W. window, in middle light the Ascension, a diaphanous figure of Christ in mid-air with the Dove above in a yellow and blue cloudy sky, in side lights quatrefoils enclosing roses and IHS in the heads all in brown, in tracery the Drax arms etc. as in E. window, all 1837. Hatchments: see Charborough House, Library.

Inscription: In nave, on W. wall, 'In the year 1837 this Chapel was fitted up for Divine Service by John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle Drax Esqr. who heightened the walls and put up the present oak panelled roof erected the stone spire and embellished the interior with oak carvings; comprising the pulpit altar-piece stalls and that elaborate work of art representing the life of Christ which was formerly the altar piece in a church at Antwerp in addition to which the windows were filled with stained glass the east window representing Christ with two Apostles and the western window representing the Ascension', on white marble tablet in moulded framing with trefoiled two-centred head containing the achievement-of-arms of Drax quarterly of six, Erle, Sawbridge, Fisher, Wanley, Stevenson, with an escutcheon of Drax quartering Erle, Erle, Grosvenor, the Drax and Sawbridge crests and the Drax motto.

Monuments: On N. wall, (1) of Mary, the widow of Edward Drax, 1820, white marble tablet on grey marble backing with panelled side pilasters standing on stylised scallops and supporting an open pediment containing a painted lozenge-of-arms of Drax impaling Churchill, a butterfly above, by 'Richard Westmacott, London'. On S. wall, (2) of Gen. Thomas Erle, Commander of the Foot, one of the Lords Justices in Ireland, Governor of Portsmouth, Lieut.-Gen. of the Ordnance, P.C., 1720, Elizabeth (Wyndham) his wife, Frances his daughter and her husband Sir Edward Ernle, Bt., Elizabeth their daughter and her husband Henry Drax and their son Thomas Erle Drax, 1790, the subscription to this cenotaph reading 'To the memory of these ancestors and in pursuance of the will of Elizabeth Drax . . ., Edward her youngest son (who now lies buried with them) did, during the short time he possessed Charborough, order this monument to be erected . . . 1791', white marble wall-monument with coloured marble inlays, with apron and flanking pilaster-strips carved with trophies and with side scrolls supporting an entablature with fluted frieze and blocking-course, this last surmounted by a sarcophagus with an urn and by flanking urns, all against a pyramidal slate backing with a white marble swag and lozenge in the head, on the lozenge, the pilasters and their apron-bases the following arms: of (a) Drax with an escutcheon quarterly of six, Ernle, Heytesbury, Hungerford, Tooker, Erle, (b) Erle impaling Wyndham, (c) a lozenge of Erle and Tooker quarterly with an escutcheon of Erle, (d) Drax quartering Ernle, Erle, (e) Drax quarterly of six, Ernle, Heytesbury, Hungerford, Tooker, Erle, all impaling Churchill; (3) of Richard Drax Grosvenor, 1819, and Sarah Frances Erle Drax his wife, 1822, large white marble wall-monument (Plate 18) with relief-carving of a fluted sarcophagus on an inscribed pedestal-base all on an echinus-moulded shelf which also supports flanking seated figures, half life size, of Charity on the E. (Plate 19), a woman suckling an infant and with a second child at her knee, of Faith on the W., a woman with a lamp and scroll, both with braided hair and loose robes of Greek derivation, painted on the sarcophagus the arms of Grosvenor with an escutcheon of Drax quarterly of twelve, Ernle, Hungerford, Heytesbury, Hussey, Peverell, Botreaux, Molyns, Erle, Wykes, Plessey, Dymoke, monument signed 'Richard Westmacott. R.A. 14 South Audley Street. Lo.'; this and Monument (1) were set up by Sarah Frances to her husband and mother, but 'she did not live to see their completion'; (4) of Richard Edward Erle Drax, only son of Richard Erle Drax Grosvenor and Sarah Frances his wife, 1828, white marble wall-tablet on slate backing surmounted by urn, by M. W. Johnson, New Road, London, set up by Jane Frances Sawbridge Erle Drax, his sister. On W. wall, (5) of Capt. Robert Clarke, Commander of H.M.S. Adventure, killed aboard in an engagement in the W. Indies, 1708/9, white marble oval inscription-tablet.

Pulpit (Plate 110): double-decker against N. wall, largely of oak, incorporating a miscellany of 16th and 17th-century woodwork, principally a set of six late 16th-century Continental panels with accomplished relief carvings of the Annunciation, the Adoration, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost, the first three in the pulpit, the rest in the reading-desk, elsewhere male and female terminal figures of c. 1600, panels carved with a Calvary cross in a glory within strapwork with pendants of fruits and flowers, a book, mitre and crozier, scrolls with cherubs' heads, 17th-century, and, on wall behind pulpit, a large cartouche carved with IHS ensigned with a cross and with three nails, late 17th-century, all made up c. 1837 and with stairs of that date to pulpit from E.

Reading-desk: front made up of large 17th-century panel sub-divided into geometrical pattern of smaller panels carved with stylised foliage and a cherub's head, sides composed of elaborately carved and scrolled brackets of later 17th-century date.

Reredoses: two; (1) behind altar, pedimental-shaped carved wood panel representing the Last Judgement, the Almighty accompanied by trumpeting cherubs on clouds above, the Dead arising from their graves below, the Blessed on the N. shepherded by an angel, the Damned on the S. goaded by a devil with a pitchfork, in half relief, early to mid 17th-century, N. European, the whole supported on terminal figures similar to those on the pulpit; (2) fixed high on S. wall over three easterly stalls, altar-piece (Plate 30), in moulded frame with curvilinear head, some 8½ ft. long and 6¼ ft. high, of wood very finely and elaborately carved in the round and in relief, presenting three principal scenes under Flamboyant pierced canopies on involved and complex planes and many small attendant scenes both in the foreground and background and in stages of niches under miniature pierced Flamboyant traceried canopies flanking the main scenes. The scenes comprise: on E., the Road to Calvary, Christ helped by Simon carrying the Cross and accompanied by soldiers, two with tools for the Crucifixion, St. Veronica in foreground, in background small figures of men and women from Jerusalem and of soldiers driving the two thieves, and in niches Abraham and Isaac, Moses and Aaron and the brazen serpent; in centre, at a raised level, the Crucifixion, Christ flanked by the thieves, with Longinus and, at the foot of the Cross, soldiers, two casting lots for Christ's raiment, and below, in lower foreground, figures of the three Marys and St. John and soldiers, and in niches, lower stage, the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel, Cain killing Abel, upper stage, Moses striking the rock, three Prophets; on W., Christ taken down from the Cross, Christ on the ground held by Joseph and with attendant women, in foreground Mary Magdalene with a pot of ointment, a man holding the Crown of Thorns to one side, a woman standing to the other, in background the Cross and crucified thieves and again the three Marys and a disciple, and in niches Jonah being thrown overboard, Jonah emerging from the whale's mouth; from a church in Antwerp (see Inscription above) and doubtless a local product, early to mid 16th-century. The more obvious representation is the climax of the Passion, but the iconographic scheme is one of type and anti-type.

Stalls: against S. wall, below the reredos (2) described above, seven, divided and flanked by shaped and carved arm rests, the three easterly with backs in two heights of panels rising to an enriched cornice, dated 1651, and carved in low relief with arabesques and gadrooning to ovals enclosing male and female figures with symbols, none being surely identifiable except perhaps the bull's head for St. Luke, the foregoing flanked by pilasters with terminal figures, one dated 1626, supporting Corinthian capitals under brackets carved with lion-masks; the more westerly with backs incorporating one height of panels from other series carved with cherubs, a mermaid, etc., all in much-mitred framing; the arm rests with well carved figures in high relief on the fronts, of Faith, Hope, Charity, etc.; miscellany of woodwork, English and Continental, of 1626, 1651 and later, made up in c. 1837. Paving: In chancel, square alternating stone and slate squares, set diagonally, 18th-century. Miscellanea: Outside, on S. wall, lead rainwater head with initials and date, T.E.D. 1760, reused. On W. door, pair of small oval bronze medallions with heads in profile, of St. Peter and St. Paul, 19th-century.


c(3) Charborough House (Plate 107) stands in a park of some 300 acres in the N. extremity of the parish 1½ m. N.N.E. of Morden parish church. It is of two and three storeys with cellars and attics. The walls are of carstone ashlar and of brick faced with stucco with some Purbeck stone dressings. The roofs are slate-covered. A house was built here by Sir Walter Erle in the first half of the 17th century; this was burnt down during the Civil War. During the Commonwealth Sir Walter incorporated the very fragmentary standing remains in a new house for which he used some of the stone and timber from Corfe castle, then recently destroyed; restitution of this material was demanded by Sir Ralph Bankes after the Restoration. (fn. 1) Clear evidence of the form of the first house is lacking. The Commonwealth House is shown in three 18th-century oil-paintings at Charborough, one of c. 1730, (fn. 2) two of c. 1740 (Country Life, 30 March 1935, 327, shows one of the later pair). It comprised a tall single block facing N.E., seven and eight bays by five, of two storeys with basements and attics, with a heavy eaves cornice, dormer windows, hipped roofs on all sides and three lofty chimneystacks. The main entrance doorway was central on the N.E., a lesser doorway central on the N.W. The house depicted is typical of the group of Commonwealth houses that includes Coleshill, Tyttenhanger, Thorpe Hall or, smaller than the foregoing and more closely comparable with Charborough, Thorney Abbey House. In the older picture, depicted set back on the S.E. was a low wing with a hipped roof of c. 1700; by c. 1740 this had been almost completely remodelled and extended to form a lofty wing of three storeys, for so it appears in the two later pictures. Evidence for the whole of the foregoing is traceable in the plan and upright of the house as it now is. The main block was co-extensive with the present Drawing Room and Dining Room one way (seven bays) and the present width the other way (five bays); the N.E. wall to the full length and height of the seven bays remains visible though now whitened and with all the wall-openings remodelled. Viewed from the back of the house the hipped roofs define the early block (eight bays). Furthermore, the three great symmetrical chimneystacks shown in the paintings survive though remodelled. The front wall of the wing of c. 1730 stands, though now internal, masked and mutilated, some 24 ft. back from the N.E. front of the foregoing while the back wall bounds the present Armoury etc. The main entrance doorway was in the position of the northernmost window in the present Dining Room, the doorway opposite leading, as now, to the staircase. The lesser entrance doorway on the N.W. is now the main entrance. Moreover, both main block and wing incorporate fragments, probably in situ, of the buildings that preceded them.

Prior to a remodelling in c. 1810 which gave the house much of its present appearance, a grand Staircase was inserted; the wall and ceiling paintings of this by James Thornhill were commissioned by General Thomas Erle and are dated 1718. (fn. 3) Henry Drax added 'an apartment' for the reception in 1741 of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and this may have been a building shown in the 18th-century paintings in the position of the present Library, but equally it may have applied to the subdivision of the bedroom now the 'Prince's Bedroom' and 'Prince's Dressing Room' within the body of the house. An engraving of Charborough made between 1755 and 1774 during Thomas Erle Drax's ownership shows no further changes, (fn. 4) except a remodelling of the Stables E. of the house, which are now entirely gone, having been burned down in the 19th century.

In c. 1810 four bays were added S.E. of the main house-block, filling in the re-entrant angle between it and the S.E. wing, thus creating a rectangular block eleven bays long, the former width remaining unchanged. The middle five bays to the N.E., that is, four bays of the old house and one bay of those added, were made into the central feature of a new composition by the addition of pilasters and a pediment, thus perpetuating the architectural orientation of the previous house; the new walls were faced in stucco and the old carstone walls heightened, the heightening being stucco-faced, and all whitened and given cornices and parapets, and the roofs were slated. Elsewhere the old walls too were stuccoed. The present Library represents an extensive remodelling at about the same time of an early to mid 18th-century structure. Hutchins' editor speaks of 'the late alteration when the house was enlarged and much improved and covered with stucco' and says 'Richard Erle Drax Grosvenor [1790–1819] has greatly improved the seat of the Drax's, which is now an elegant mansion' (History of Dorset, 2nd ed. (1796– 1815), quoted in 3rd ed., III, 500, 505). A fourth oilpainting of the house shows it in this state, with a blank pediment and the main entrance doorway in the middle of the N.W. end. (fn. 5) J. B. Burke states that the architect employed was John Nash (Visitation of the Seats . . . of Great Britain (1853)).

About the middle of the 19th century, John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle Drax formed the Armoury in the back of the c. 1730 wing and added a Picture Gallery beyond it projecting S.E. of the house. In his time also his shield-of-arms in scroll-work was inserted in the pediment on the N.E. front. His improvements and additions of Armoury and Gallery are mentioned by Hutchins' editors (ibid., 3rd ed. (1861–8) III, 505). More recent alterations and additions to the house include the portico on the N.W., the loggia on the S.E. end, a service wing flanking it, another loggia on the S.W. and modernisation within.

The 18th-century pictures already mentioned also show formal gardens, a summer-house, a parterre, statues and an axial triumphal arch, etc. These are now replaced by landscaping, an alteration probably of the late 18th century. In 1775 Thomas Erle Drax rebuilt the Chapel S.W. of the house, which was remodelled in 1837 by John Sawbridge Erle Drax who introduced miscellanea of Continental woodwork (see Monument (2)). Edward, brother of Thomas, built the Tower on the high ground away to the S.E. in High Wood in 1790; this was damaged by lightning in 1838 and largely rebuilt and heightened the next year. John Sawbridge increased the size of the Park and c. 1840 added the Gateways; (fn. 6) the Peacock Gate was standing in 1837, for an engraving showing it was published that year. (fn. 7) The great balustraded Walk and stair from the house to the Tower date from about 1850; they appear in a lithograph of the house published in 1853. (fn. 8) Standing N.W. of the house, the Grove Ice-house, also known as the Grotto, must succeed, upon the evidence of a tablet upon it, a shelter standing here in 1686; the present ice-house is of the later 18th century and the entrance to it may have been the arched opening shown beside the summer-house in Hutchins' engraving (1st ed. II, opp. 183). The present entrance-front of Baroque character is entirely of the mid 19th century.

At Charborough the extensive series of paintings on the walls and ceiling of the staircase hall by James, later Sir James, Thornhill are of particular importance. The mid 19th-century decoration of the Armoury is an exceptionally elaborate product of the Gothic Revival, and the Tower is a remarkable expression of the same phase of taste. The landscape aspect of the Park is notably preserved. The surviving pictorial representation of the house from c. 1730 onward is unusually complete and enables the architectural development to be deduced in detail.

Charborough House

Architectural Description—The N.E. front (Plate 107) is now superficially entirely of c. 1810. It is of eleven bays, seven towards the N.W. end fronting the mid 17th-century house, the remaining four fronting the c. 1810 addition. Embracing the five middle bays is a central hexastyle feature of slight projection with colossal plain Ionic pilasters supporting a pedimented frieze and cornice. The pilasters interrupt a platband otherwise continuous across the building; the timber dentil-cornice is returned as the crowning cornice to the flanking walls, and the pediment breaks through a blockingcourse at the wall-head. In the tympanum of the pediment is heavy stucco acanthus scroll-work and a shield-of-arms added in or after 1828; the arms quarterly of six are of Drax, Erle, Sawbridge, Fisher, Wanley, Stevenson, with a quarterly escutcheon over all of Drax, ii, iii Erle, Grosvenor, and with the crest and motto of Drax (Jane Frances Grosvenor Erle Drax married John Wanley Sawbridge, inherited 1828). The windows throughout, those on the ground floor being lofty and rising from the plain stone plinth, consist of entirely plain rectangular openings fitted with double-hung sashes; the central ground-floor opening continues to the ground and is fitted with french windows.

Charborough House

The architectural development of this front is evident from the surviving ashlar of the Commonwealth house, which is revealed as carstone beneath flaking of the surface whitening and is so depicted in the 18th-century paintings; it extends horizontally to the northerly reveals of the windows in the eighth bay, where the corner of the said house is visible as a straight joint, and vertically to just above the first-floor window heads. All the window dressings in the ashlar are clearly insertions, in Portland or Purbeck stone; furthermore, the blocking of the Commonwealth windows may be seen above the ground-floor window heads and rising nearly to the 17th-century plat-band. The stone plinths and the pilaster bases of c. 1810 are applied against the earlier ashlar, where they occur in that context; the frieze also is of applied slabs, but the pilaster capitals are bonded in. All the pilaster shafts and the contemporary walling of the extension in the eighth to the eleventh bays and of the heightening in the preceding bays are stucco-faced (see diagram below).

The N.W. front, a remodelling of c. 1810 and later of the N.W. end of the Commonwealth house, now contains the principal entrance in the middle. It is stucco-faced, of five bays and uniform with the plain expanses of the N.E. front except that the end windows on the first floor were round-headed; the windows in the two northerly bays have been blocked and, in modern times, the head of the more southerly end window has been made square; small windows have recently been broken through on the first floor of the third bay. The three middle bays are continued above the crowning cornice to form an attic with a secondary timber cornice and a blocking-course; here in each bay is a squat window. The entrance is now covered by a flat-roofed stone portico with four freestanding plain Ionic columns and responds supporting an entablature; this is an addition of 1931. The tower-like feature adjoining this front on the S.W., which is square on plan, of three stages, with balustraded parapets and tall round-headed windows or blind arcading in the third stage, is of the second half of the 19th century.

The S.W. side is in three main divisions; the northernmost fronting the mid 17th-century block but remodelled in the 18th century and subsequently stuccoed; the second, projecting, defined by rusticated quoins and fronting the c. 1730 wing and of that date though stuccoed in the 19th century; the southernmost, nearly flush with the second and matching it but entirely of the mid 19th century. The first division has a broad plat-band at the wall-head instead of a cornice and this and the plat-band at the first floor are slightly lower than the corresponding features on the N.W. and N.E. fronts. It is of eight bays, the northernmost being masked by an 18th-century annexe adjacent to the tower of which it is now a part, the southernmost being masked on the ground floor by a mid 19th-century porch and having a round-headed window on the first floor; this latter eighth bay fronts a shallow projection from the mid 17th-century block, probably original to it. The hipped roof embraces the seven more northerly bays. The windows have small keystones to straight heads, otherwise they are plain. The second division is in four bays and, though of nearly the same height as the foregoing, of three storeys. Only the quoins and the keystones to the windows relieve the plainness, but here the window heads are slightly cambered. The same treatment is continued in the six bays of the third division but most of the windows are blind; the Gallery lies behind. Fronting the ground floor is a loggia added in 1931. The quoins between the second and third divisions distinguish the junction between the builds of c. 1730 and of c. 1850 though, as a result of alterations, the plan no longer indicates the addition.

The S.E. end is of c. 1810 in the more northerly half, defined by the hipped roof; here the lower part is masked by a later addition. The other half, stuccoed in the 19th century but essentially of c. 1730, is fronted by a modern loggia; the windows, as before, have cambered heads and keystones. The Gallery wing is generally uniform with the S.W. side of it described above.

The single-storey Library wing extending S.W. from the house is of the late 18th century though remodelled in the 19th century. It is flat-roofed. The long sides are bowed in the middle to form an oval space within, it is said for a cockpit. The S.E. front is stucco-faced, has Ionic pilasters on the flanks, a plat-band and plain lofty window openings. The back wall is of 18th-century brickwork with a stone plat-band and four bays of rectangular wall-recesses with rubbed brick heads to either side of the bowed middle part. The wall seems to show an early heightening of some 5 ft.

Inside the house, alteration and modernising in the 19th century and since have obscured much earlier work, but the S.W. longitudinal wall to the axial passage may well be a survival from the first house, for it incorporates in situ an early to mid 17th-century stone doorway, with a flat four-centred head and stop-chamfered jambs, located behind and below the first quarter-landing of the 1718 staircase, and a fireplace of the same date on the upper floor (see Prince's Bedroom). For the rest, allowing for the different orientation of access and for rearrangement of the stairs, the disposition of the ground floor of the Commonwealth house remains much as Celia Fiennes described it in c. 1685. (fn. 9)

The Entrance Hall has an elaborate mid 19th-century ceiling in the Gothic style with ribs, pendants, brattishing and blank shields in foliated panels. The dado of the same period comprises panels carved with heads and 'linenfolds'. Thence an axial passage extends through the main block; in situ at the far end of the passage, at a slightly lower level, is a stone entrance doorway with moulded jambs, shaped stops and a keystone; this is in, and contemporary with, the wall, originally external, of the Commonwealth house and now opens to the kitchens etc. in the 18th-century wing. The Green Drawing Room (30½ ft. by 20 ft.), in the N. corner of the house, was refurbished late in the 18th century and retains from this date a plaster entablature at the wall-head with the frieze enriched with honeysuckle and urns. The two doorcases of wood with enriched and gilded architraves etc. and fitted with panelled doors, the window architraves and shutters similarly enriched and the reeded fireplace-surround of marble are of the early 19th century, the large enriched wall-panels of the mid 19th century. The Dining Room (37½ ft. by 19 ft.) next S.E., the former hall, retains plasterwork similar to, and of the date of, the foregoing and also a ceiling enriched with acanthus scrolls in the corners, a monogram S.E.D. (Thomas Erle Drax, inherited 1755, died 1790, married Mary St. John), and a later centrepiece of banded reeding, foliation and escallops. The woodwork again is of the early 19th century but plain. The Oak Room (19½ ft. by 20 ft.) has a dado of mid 19th-century panelling with cresting in the 15th-century style and, incorporated in the S. door, six mid 16th-century panels carved with arabesques and roundels containing 'antique' heads. Panels of the same kind, with some of the heads almost in the round, and others of the same period with highly stylised scroll ornament, sixty-eight in all, form dadoes in the passage adjoining the Oak Room on the S.E. The doorcases and ceilingcornice here are of the date and style of the fittings of the Armoury described below.

The Staircase Hall (15½ ft. by 20 ft.), impressive in its loftiness, over-all elaboration and richness of colouring, was an innovation of c. 1718 in this position, but the matrix of the stair arrangement described by Celia Fiennes remains apparent; this comprises passages, formerly and still in part staircasepassages, entered from the W. angle of the Dining Room which describe a cross, central and axial within the 17th-century block. The two lateral doorways to the 18th-century stairhall have eared architraves, the heads being shaped to frame elaborate trophies of arms and masks under shaped and enriched cornices. The doorways over the first floor have bolection-moulded architraves. The main staircase returns in three flights up to the first-floor landing, which crosses the full width of the hall; additional to the third flight that leads S.W. from the second quarter-landing is a flight leading N.E. through the thickness of the back wall. The stairs have cut strings with fielded panels to the tread-ends on elaborately carved brackets, turned balusters, three to a tread, and a moulded and ramped handrail ending in a spatulate scroll supporting a lion couchant, possibly added, over the lowest newel. This last is elaborately carved, scrolled and voluted, and the base curves outward to support a gadrooned urn. The intermediate newels are in the form of Composite columns, the one at the first quarter-landing supporting the later addition of a lion sejant holding a modern axe and honestone. The dado has a moulded ramped top rail and bolection-moulded panels.

The great ceiling painting by Thornhill (Plate 109) depicts the dispute of Aphrodite, Athene and Hera; the Goddesses are seated on clouds accompanied by their attributes and with sporting winged putti, the gods on Olympus in the background, a chariot in the left foreground, and on the right Hermes holding the golden apple and vaulting over the trompe l'œil balustrade of the Empyraean. The subsequent scenes are on the walls, which are divided into three painted zones: a panelled sub-base, with trophies and two formal figure-groups in the panels, a pedestal-base, again with trophies but here presented with far greater vigour and shown bursting beyond the confines of the panels, and the main, uppermost, zone next described. Crowning the classical base formed by the two lower zones is a broad band of guilloche ornament; this band, which is at first-floor landing level, completes the podium for painted paired Corinthian columns in antis towards the ends of each wall; the columns support an entablature with coffered soffit. Thus the effect of proscenium-openings is provided for the scenes painted within. The whole of the foregoing is trompe l'œil, in chiaroscuro and gilding in the base zones, in colour in the main zone. On the N.E. wall is Paris seated, accompanied by Cupid and a dog, receiving the apple from Hermes recumbent on a cloud above. On the N.W. wall a great curtain is drawn back to reveal the Judgement of Paris (Plate 108); Paris seated on the left in a woodland setting is presenting the apple to Aphrodite on the right accompanied by Cupid; behind her are Athene armed and Hera accompanied by her peacock; behind the group stands Hermes by a tree. (fn. 10) On the S.E. wall, in the Rape of Helen (Plate 108), Paris in cloak and helmet leads Helen out from an archway on the right followed by attendants while a warrior and bondmen precede them to a ship of much splendour in the left background. The S.W. wall, being divided horizontally by the landing and broken by fenestration, has standing figures in niches centrally between the windows, all in chiaroscuro, of the shepherd Paris on the ground floor and Aphrodite, naked and holding the apple, on the first floor. One of the figure-groups in the sub-base panels already mentioned includes Athene and a winged putto holding a cartouche bearing the mid 19th-century quarterly arms of Drax, as in the N.E. pediment of the house, but Thornhill's sketch does not show this group and the whole may be of the later date; in the other group two putti hold the crest of Erle in a similar setting. All the overdoors, the landing and flight soffits etc. and the arched approaches on the ground floor and to the quarterlanding on the N.E. are painted with trophies, swags, drapery, etc., including the repainted shield-of-arms of Erle impaling Wyndham (for Thomas Erle, who commissioned the painting, and Elizabeth Wyndham his wife) and his crest, and crests of Drax and Sawbridge added in the 19th century; the upper approach also has painted coffering on the arch-soffit. On one of the standards in a trophy in the second zone is painted 'I. Thornhull f. 1718', on another 'Restored 1840. T. Fairs'; this last applies to a general restoration and to the repainting and addition of the heraldry.

The Armoury (36 ft. by 10½ ft.) is of high, mid 19th-century Gothic elaboration (Plate 106). The approach to the lobby before it, between pedestal-responds supporting statues, possibly 16th-century, of St. John the Divine and St. Peter, is by a short flight of stairs with the upper newels crowned with lions holding shields-of-arms of Drax quarterly of six with a quarterly escutcheon, as in the N.E. pediment. The screen between the lobby and the Armoury is in two heights, the lower with linenfold panels set in arches with cusped two-centred heads enclosing cartouches with painted arms, perhaps added, of Drax, Erle, Grosvenor, Sawbridge, etc., the upper with reused turned and carved early to mid 16th-century columnar posts holding leaded glazing in blue, purple, orange and yellow; the lintel is enriched with quatrefoils in diagonal panels under a dentil cornice. Above is a flat-ogee tie beam and the tympanum-like space between this and the cornice is filled with elaborate pierced scroll-work flanking a central mask. Before the screen stand two detached early 16th-century wood statues of Saints, one of a man wearing armour beneath a cope and holding a church, the other of a woman holding a book and trampling an infidel. Tie beams like that just mentioned, with arcaded spandrels and supported on carved or modelled corbels, divide the Armoury ceiling into four bays; each bay is sub-divided by moulded ribs, with a carved pendant at the intersection, into four cusped panels all within an elaborately carved or moulded and pierced cornice. The four windows retain their original enriched and scrolled architraves of c. 1730 though fitted with elaborate mid 19th-century pelmets. The dado round the room incorporates carved panels in the 16th-century style. The mid 19th-century marble fireplace-surround is in the Louis XV style. Dividing the Armoury from the Picture Gallery is a contemporary solid screen panelled and traceried towards the former to include two 'windows' in the Perpendicular style filled with looking-glass and with finely carved and pierced architraves continued up to form crocketed ogee heads; one 'window' is hinged to form the door to the Gallery.

The Picture Gallery (45 ft. by 16¾ ft.), added in the mid 19th century, is equivalent to two storeys in height inside. It has a dado incorporating a quantity of 16th-century panels, or panels in the style of that period, similar to those described above. The plaster ceiling has wide coves rising to a long rectangular panel incorporating two rectangular lanterns with inward-sloping glazed sides and linked by a square panel; this last and the aprons and soffits of the top lights are enriched with elaborate acanthus scrolls and foliation. The two mid 19th-century black marble fireplace-surrounds include painted arms of Drax quarterly of six with an escutcheon as already described. Loose in the Gallery are two carved panels much alike, possibly from overdoors, one with the arms of Erle impaling Wyndham, the other dated 1710.

The Library (14½ ft. by 82¼ ft.), which is plain though with six small fitted bookcases, contains two hatchments: (i) on a lozenge of Grosvenor with a crescent for difference an escutcheon of Drax quarterly of twelve, Ernle, Hungerford, Heytesbury, Hussey, Peverell, Botreaux, Molyns, Erle, Wykes, Plessey, Dymoke, for Sarah Frances Erle Drax, died 1822; (ii) of Drax quarterly of six with a quarterly escutcheon, as already described, with the motto but no crest, all against a background black in the sinister half, for Jane Frances Erle Drax, died 1853. In the lobby are two plaster shields, perhaps modern, with the arms of Turberville impaling Maudley, and Turberville impaling Fitzjames.

The Basement of the Commonwealth house, where remodelled for daily use, is lit by windows opening to sunk areas; the Housekeeper's Room (below the Oak Room) retains the double-hung sashes with heavy glazing-bars from the early to mid 18th-century remodelling of the S.W. front. The remainder of the basement, used as cellars, retains mid 17th-century two-light chamfered stone-mullioned windows with almost flat triangular rear arches; but most are blocked or altered. In the westernmost cellar (below the Morning Room) is a large reused chamfered ceiling beam with moulded stops: it appears to have been shortened but measures 32 ft. by 1 ft. by 1¼ ft. and is reputed to be that from Corfe castle referred to in Sir Ralph Bankes's correspondence in 1661 with Sir Walter Erle. (fn. 11) At Corfe, the Old Hall after enlargement in the 13th century measured about 34 ft. across; other spans in the castle were either greater or less, so far as they are now possible to determine.

The stairs leading N.E. to the cellar below the Dining Room are set against the outside of the old external wall of the Commonwealth house, which here retains a chamfered plinth. The Housekeeper's Room has a stone fireplacesurround of unusual character, made up perhaps of 17th-century and later material; over it is an early to mid 18th-century eared and enriched panel of stone and plaster containing a reset but contemporary oval panel of wood (Plate 61) carved in very high relief with a shield-of-arms of Erle impaling Wyndham with crest and mantling all in a setting of a trophy of arms, including a Roman standard inscribed SPQR, a caduceus, an eyed hand, cannon, sword, pistols, etc.

The Cellar of the wing of c. 1730 has groined quadripartite brick vaulting springing from piers and responds with ashlar dressings. High in the N.E. wall is a window blocked by the addition of c. 1810. The mezzanine floor above retains in the Pantry a bolection-moulded fireplace-surround of c. 1700, which may well survive in situ from the smaller earlier wing.

On the first floor, the Prince's Bedroom and Dressing Room are over the Morning Room. The first has in the N.E. wall an early to mid 17th-century stone fireplace with moulded four-centred head and jambs with fleurs-de-lys stops; it is in situ though retooled. The N.W. and S.W. walls are lined with early 18th-century pine panelling with dado and cornice; the woodwork was originally painted and grained to represent round-headed Classical niches with elaborated keystones and cartouches above in the main panels and fielded panels elsewhere, the graining resembling walnut, but only six of the former paintings and one of the latter survive; the rest of the room is lined with plain modern panelling to match. The Dressing Room contains an 18th-century fireplace-surround with marble slips and an eared and enriched wood architrave and shelf. The Oak Bedroom and French Dressing Room are over the Green Drawing Room. The first has a reset early 17th-century oak fireplace-surround with Ionic columns with enriched shafts and bulbous bases supporting an overmantel in two bays flanked and divided by pilasters in the form of male and female terminal figures; in each bay is a round-headed carved panel enclosing a shield-of-arms, of Tooker, and of Tooker impaling Eyre; the pilasters support a bracketed entablature with a dentil cornice against the ceiling, all enriched. The Dressing Room is lined with early 17th-century panelling in five heights of panels.

In the S.E. wing of c. 1730 the main floor is at a level midway between the ground and first floors of the mid 17th-century house; here the Study, formerly the principal room in the wing, retains the enriched plaster cornice original to it and also, though now much damaged, the rebated reveals of a contemporary window opening looking N.E., which may be seen in a cupboard in the room adjacent on the N.E. added in c. 1810.

The mid 17th-century house retains most of the original timbers of the pitched Roofs that returned round a central depression, though this last is now covered in to provide additional accommodation; they form tie-beam trusses with collars, two purlins and a ridge-piece housed in the principals.

For Charborough Church close by the house, see Monument (2).

The Grove Ice-house, known also as the Grotto, standing 30 yds. N.W. of the house, consists of a stucco-faced brick front, built or rebuilt in the mid 19th century, to a late 18th-century ice-house in the hillock behind. The front has a large round-headed archway in the middle with rusticated ashlar dressings under a curvilinear gable with flanking urns on pedestals and a crowning orb at the apex surmounted by a figure of Mercury copied from that at the Villa Medici, Rome. In the gable-end is a modern marble inscription-tablet replacing a similar one of earlier date, which is now reset in the loggia against the Picture Gallery; it reads: 'Under this roof, in the year MDCLXXXVI, a set of patriotic gentlemen of this neighbourhood concerted the great plan of the Glorious Revolution with the immortal King William; to whom we owe our deliverance from Popery and Slavery, and expulsion of the tyrant race of Stuarts; the restoration of our Liberty, the security of our property, and establishment of National Honour. Englishmen, remember this glorious aera, and consider that your Liberties, procured by the vertues of your ancestors, must be maintained by yourselves. Thomas Erle Drax erected this stone, in the year MDCCLXXX'. The archway opens to a porch or lobby with a semicircular vault faced with stucco; at the inner end is a nail-studded plank door with strap-hinges that opens on a brick-lined passage with a segmental brick vault leading to a circular ice-house. This last is some 12 ft. in diameter, brick-lined and with a domical roof with a central opening. The whole structure, behind the front, is earth-covered.

A second Ice-house, reached through a long brick-lined passage entered close S.E. of the house, is of the 18th century. It is circular, some 12 ft. in diameter, with a flattened domical roof with a central opening. The doorway to it is down a flight of thirteen steps; the floor is 9 ft. again below the threshold.

The Conservatory, on the hilltop 120 yds. S.W. of the house, is of the early to mid 19th century and curvilinear on plan. The walls are of fine Portland stone ashlar; they have a plinth tooled in the top course to give a channelled effect of much refinement and a simplified continuous crowning entablature with a frieze, corona and blocking-course, the frieze being carried across the window heads as a lintel. The large, rectangular window openings are quite plain and fitted with hopper-lights. Inside, all the top-lighting is renewed. Of two straight splayed wings added not long subsequently, that on the E. has been demolished in modern times.

Charborough House, Conservatory

The Fountain some 100 yds. S. of the house is modern but incorporates an 18th-century figure of Mercury poised on the water spouting from the mouth of a putto-mask horizontal on the supporting pedestal, all in lead.

The Tower (Plate 111) in High Wood, ¼ m. S.E. of the house, is of brick faced with stucco and has a flat lead-covered roof. The history of the building is inscribed on a wall-tablet at ground-floor level: 'This Tower was built by Edward Drax Esquire in the year 1790, during the short time he was the possessor of Charborough. It was struck by lightning on the 29th of November 1838, which so damaged it, that it became necessary to take down the greater part, it was rebuilt in 1839 by John Samuel Wanley Sawbridge Erle Drax Esquire who carried it forty feet higher than it was originally built making the present height upwards of one hundred feet.' The tablet is in a moulded stone frame, with the crests of Drax and Sawbridge. The Tower is octagonal outside and elliptical inside (12¼ ft. by 11½ ft.). It has a chamfered plinth and is in five stages divided by prominent moulded strings; the parapet is balustraded. On the external angles and rising the height of the two lowest stages are weathered buttresses ending in pyramidal crocketed finials on quatre-foiled dies. The doorway is in the N.W. side; it has a moulded lancet-shaped head from which rises a window of two trefoiled lights with a quatre-foiled spandrel in a lancet head. The three middle stages have a blind window in each face with continuously moulded reveals and two-centred head under a moulded label with large mask-stops. Windows similar to the foregoing occur in the top stage but the alternate ones are in part pierced and glazed. Small round quatre-foiled windows also occur in the S.E. side in the second, third and fourth stages. Inside, is a spiral staircase (Plate 111) with cantilevered stone steps and a cast-iron balustrade with a moulded handrail of wood ending in a large carving of a bearded man's head. The rectangular balusters are moulded and foliated and elaborated with Gothic panels on the faces. In the top stage is a flooring with a central round light in a moulded architrave; access thence to the roof is by a timber stair with cut strings and turned and moulded balusters.

The Tower stands on a large octagonal podium; thence flights of stone steps 26 ft. wide alternating with grass slopes between balustrading pierced with a running pattern of trefoils and quatrefoils lead down north-westward some 150 yds. towards the house; the balustrading abuts square pedestals of stucco-faced brick with rusticated dies and moulded cappings. Three isolated pairs of similar pedestals at intervals in the parkland further continue the vista. This 'triumphal way' dates from the mid 19th century.

The Stables, 120 yds. W.S.W. of the house, with brick walls and slate-covered roofs, were built probably in the second quarter of the 19th century. Half H-shaped on plan, the building comprises a long rectangular block orientated N.E.-S.W. with end wings projecting S.E. The centre part, containing the coach stands, rises in an almost rectangular block to form a tower-like feature of two storeys with low-pitched roofs gabled to front and back to suggest pediments. The coach doorways have cambered heads with keystones, the four lofty windows on the first floor, arranged arcade-fashion, have round heads with three rings of voussoirs, stone imposts and keystones, and in the pediment-feature is a large clock-face flanked by stucco scrolls. On the ridge stands a large timber cupola with open arcaded sides, a widely overhanging eaves-cornice on brackets, a low-pitched pyramidal roof and a wrought-iron weather vane. For the rest, the stables are of a single storey and have a dentil cornice, round-headed doorways with fanlights and cambered heads to the window openings.

Entrance to the Stableyard is between a pair of small 18th-century wrought-iron Gate Piers of unusual design (Plate 63). They may perhaps be reused from the formal gardens depicted in the paintings of c. 1740 already described. The plain uprights are linked by scrolls and support, behind scrolled and spiked cresting, S-scrolls rising to an obelisk finial.

The Kennels, nearly ¾ m. N.W. of the house, have brick walls and tiled roofs. They consist of a mid 18th-century group of buildings ranged round three sides of a large rectangular yard with a dwelling-house on one side, buttressed barn-like sheds on the others. The house is of two storeys with attics and all the wall-openings have segmental-arched heads. The roofs of the sheds have collar-beam trusses with braces rising from sole-pieces set in the walls.

The Lodges and Gates to the park include four of note; these vary in style and architectural refinement though more or less contemporary. One, Peacock Lodge, set within the park, is depicted, as noted above, in an engraving of 1837; the others and the great brick wall they punctuate are to be associated with the completion in 1841–42 of the Wimborne-Dorchester turnpike they adjoin. All the latter stand in the parish of Sturminster Marshall but are described here in their immediate context.

Peacock Lodge (Plate 59), ½ m. N.W. of the house, is built of very fine ashlar. The design, Classical in detail, comprises a large elliptical-headed arched way through a predominating central block flanked symmetrically by lower rectangular blocks containing living rooms; on the extremities are wingwalls curving round to end in piers well in advance of the front of the Lodge. The centre block, which is surmounted by the figure of a buck, has a simplified crowning entablature and blocking-course. The lower blocks finish in a similar way, the cornices here being in continuation of the imposts of the great archway; they have characterful round windows with moulded architraves set in concentric sinkings in the ashlar wall-face. Extra living accommodation has been built behind one of the wing-walls in modern times.

Lion Gate (Plate 59), in Sturminster Marshall parish, nearly 1 m. N.E. of the house, consists of a single great Classical archway built c. 1840. (fn. 12) It is stucco-faced. The semicircular-headed arch has solid abutments; against the latter on both faces are paired freestanding Ionic columns, eight in all, on high bases and supporting a continuous entablature with an attic surmounted by a platform for the naturalistic sculptured figure of a lion passant. The pair of cast-iron gates, of great elaboration, were in the Exhibition of 1862.

Stag Gate (Plate 59), in Sturminster Marshall parish, nearly 1 m. due N. of the house, consists of a great archway, simpler than the foregoing and of greater refinement though of the same period. It is of brickwork, in Flemish bond with blue headers, with stone dressings; the design shows restraint and elegance. The lofty round-headed arch and responds abut colossal square piers, the moulded stone arch-imposts returning round the last. The arch key-block is also of stone. At the wall-head are oversailing courses of brickwork in emulation of a crowning cornice, a blocking-course and a plain podium for the naturalistic freestanding figure of a stag.

East Almer Lodge, in Sturminster Marshall parish, nearly 1 m. N.N.W. of the house, consists of a tall gatehall with great round-headed archways in the N. and S. walls and abutted symmetrically by low blocks containing living accommodation. It was built c. 1840, possibly not before 1842. The walls are stucco-faced, probably over brickwork, with some stone dressings; the roofs are lead-covered. The central block is square on plan and finishes, above the level of the arch heads, in a deep entablature pedimented to N. and S., the S. pediment containing the shield-of-arms of Sawbridge Erle Drax with flanking scroll-work. The exceptional depth of the frieze allows space for stone inset panels inscribed, on the N., 'This Road from Wimborne to Dorchester was projected and completed through the instrumentality of J. S. W. Sawbridge Erle Drax Esq., M.P., in the Years 1841 and 1842', on the S., 'This road [through the park] was closed by order of the Magistrates, which was appealed against by James John Farquharson Esq. at the Epiphany Quarter Sessions held at Dorchester Janry 4th 1841 and after a trial of three days the order was confirmed by the order of Twelve Honest Jurymen'. Inside, the gatehall has a flat plaster ceiling and doorways with keystones to the lodges. Each of these last has, outside, a cornice at the wall-head in continuation of the imposts of the great archways and a blocking-course; the window openings have keystones. (A.R.D.)

Monuments (4–50)

These monuments, unless otherwise described, are of one storey and attics or two storeys with walls of cob, in most cases patched or refaced with brick, and thatched roofs; they are of the late 18th or early 19th century. Buildings for which there is no individual entry are covered by the description above.

c(4) House (Plate 42), of two storeys with rendered brick walls and low-pitched slated roof, is of the second quarter of the 19th century. The front is symmetrical, with central doorway and casement windows glazed with marginal panes. The roof slopes down on all four sides from a central chimney-stack with a row of five detached circular shafts with moulded cappings.

c(5) Cottage is of early 17th-century origin but has a 19th-century bay window and has been much altered for use as a shop.

c(6) East Morden Farm, house (Plate 47), has walls of brick and carstone rubble and a slated roof. The original house was built probably in the late 16th or early 17th century with stone walls and was of one storey and attics and on a three-room plan, the fireplace of the centre room backing on a through passage. At the beginning of the 18th century the house was partly rebuilt in brick; the existing entrance, flanked by brick pilasters under a moulded brick cornice, and the central panelled chimney-stack are of this date. A little later in the 18th century a back wing was added. In the late 19th century the upper part of the house was rebuilt to give two full storeys, the level of the apex of the roof remaining unaltered, the main range was extended towards the E. and further additions were made along the back. Internally the original plan remains but all the fittings have been renewed.

East Morden Farm

c(7) Cottage is of the early 17th century, partly rebuilt and heightened in the early 18th century. It has a central entrance and end chimneys.

c(8) Cottage (922958), at Cockett Hill.

c(9) Cottage (921956), at Cockett Hill, is probably of the early 18th century and was built on a two-room plan with staircase and chimney against one gable-end wall. A third room has been added at the opposite end.

c(10) Cottages, range of three, of 17th-century origin, were built as one house with two end chimneys. It was later divided and extended and the middle chimney added. An original window survives with ovolo-moulded timber frame and mullion.

c(11) Cottages, in Giles's Lane, are of the 17th century, enlarged in the late 18th century and heightened later.

c(12) Cottage, in Giles's Lane, has a tiled roof and was built in the 17th century on a two-room plan with one end chimney; a third room was added to the S.W. end in the mid 18th century and the whole refronted.

b(14) Cottage has brick walls and is of the early 18th century. Two later 18th-century cottages have been added to the S.W.

b(15) Stickland's Farm, house (Plate 43), of two storeys and attics, with brick walls and tiled roof with stone slates at the eaves, was built in the third quarter of the 18th century. The front elevation is in header bond with a central entrance between widely spaced casement windows. On plan the house was built to have a central lobby and staircase with a small service room behind, a parlour to the N. and a kitchen to the S.; in the 19th century a new kitchen was added to the S. end.

Stickland's Farm

c(19) Farmhouse (Plate 46) is built on a two-room plan with end chimneys and has a small contemporary Barn to the N.E.

c(20) Cottage was built in the 17th century on a two-room plan with one end chimney and later extended by the addition of a scullery and a small barn.


b(22) Cottage, of the 17th century, was probably built on a two-room plan with central chimney and extended to the S. later.

c(27) Cottage was built in the 17th century on a two-room plan with one end chimney; a second chimney has been added.

c(28) Farm Building has brick walls and a modern roof.

c(29) Barn, with walls of brick and timber framing and with pantiled roof, is of the mid 18th century. It consists of six bays, with tie and collar-beam trusses flanking the entrance bay and other trusses of sling-brace construction (cf. Fig. p. 400).

c(30) House, now two tenements, was built c. 1600 and partly refaced early in the 18th century. In the S. end wall remain the segmental arched brick heads and brick labels for four windows. On plan the house is L-shaped and originally comprised three rooms; there are stop-chamfered ceiling beams, and an original doorway, with cambered timber lintel, leads into the E. room.

c(32) West Morden Farm, house, of two storeys with walls of rubble and brick and a thatched roof, is of the late 16th or early 17th century, originally built on a three-room plan with internal chimney-stack between the two northern rooms. Early in the 18th century it was partly rebuilt in brick and a wing was added at the back.

b(37) House has brick walls and tiled roofs and is of the first quarter of the 19th century.

b(38) Cottages, a group of three identical detached dwellings.

b(39) Cottage, with brick walls and slated roof, is of the second quarter of the 19th century.

b(40) Whitefield Farm, house, has brick walls and is partly of the early 18th century; it was enlarged later in the 18th century and the whole subsequently heightened to two full storeys.

b(43) Barn (905940) has walls of timber framing above a high brick base and trusses of tie and collar-beam construction.

b(44) Morden Mill (906938), with brick walls and slated roof, was built in the 18th century and extended and much altered in the 19th. On the first floor are three pairs of mill stones which were originally driven by an overshot waterwheel inside the mill, but this was replaced by a turbine in the late 19th century; corn bins and hoppers are contained in the roof space.

b(45) Cottage (913933) on plan comprises living room and scullery only.

b(46) Morden Park Cottage (910931), with rendered brick walls and tiled pyramidal roof, was built in the late 18th century on a square plan and enlarged later. The main front has a Palladian window to each floor.

b(47) New Barn (913932) has walls of timber framing above a high brick base and a tiled roof; it is of the 18th century and has some sling-brace trusses (Plate 53) similar to those in (29).

b(48) Sherford Farm, house (918927), with brick walls, was built in the 18th century on an L-shaped plan.

b(49) Higher Bulbury Farm, house and barn (930943), with brick and tile-hung walls and slated roof, was built in the late 18th century; it has a room each side of a central hall and a barn of five bays forming part of the same building; the date 1778 is scratched on a beam in the barn.

c(50) Miller's Farm, house (911975), was built probably in the 17th century, on a two-room plan with central chimney, and was enlarged in the 18th century and again c. 1800. Barn, to N.W., has brick walls, probably replacing timber framing, and trusses of sling-brace construction similar to those in (29) and (47).

Earthworks, Etc.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

c(51) Settlement Remains (906952), of former part of West Morden village, cover 2 acres 300 yds. S.E. of the present village but are very fragmentary (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1934: 4132).

Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments

(52–55) Round Barrows, p. 446.

(56) Mound, p. 482.

(57) Roman Remains, p. 602.


  • 1. Letter from Sir Ralph Bankes, from Chettle 12 Aug. 1661, to Sir Walter Erle, 'The timber and other material for building you had from Corfe Castle (which you have since employed in your own new fabrick) you must needs acknowledge are mine, and what in law as well as justice ought to be restored to me . . . . I can, if you give me the occasion, bring those that will swear that one of the great pieces of timber (if not the greatest) in your house came from the castle, besides stone and other materials you have made use of.' Erle claimed protection under the Act of Indemnity and said 'I never gave any direction by letter or otherwise for bringing any part of it to my house, nor knew any such thing done . . . until a good while after . . . I found some part thereof among other things remaining of the ruins of mine own house, laid by for future use. And as for the things themselves . . . five or six load of timber and stone being in point of value no such great matter . . . '. (George Bankes, Story of Corfe Castle (1853), 255–8; Country Life, 30 March 1935, 324–5.)
  • 2. This painting, reputedly by Wootton, is titled 'Charborough Park, Henry Drax Hunting' (Henry succeeded by right of his wife 1728, died 1755).
  • 3. Thornhill's sketch (283 by 313 mm.) for the N.W. wall, including the scene of the Judgement of Paris, and for parts of the S.W. wall, including the figures of Paris and Aphrodite, is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (given by Giles Robertson, 1939).
  • 4. Illustration in Hutchins (1st ed. (1774), II, opp. 183) inscribed 'Seat of Thos. Erle Drax' (in possession 1755–90).
  • 5. In Picture Gallery; signed and dated 'Alfd. Wright 1835.'
  • 6. The Gateways were contemporary with the new WimborneDorchester turnpike 'largely completed by the exertions [of J.S.W.S. Erle Drax] in 1841–2' (Hutchins, III, 505).
  • 7. 'J.S.W.S. Drax, Esq., Charborough Park, Driving to Cover': 'C. Josi pinx., T.A. Prior sculpt. London. Published 1837 for the Proprietors of the New Sporting Magazine, by Walter Spiers, 399 Oxford Street'.
  • 8. J. B. Burke, A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain, ser. 1, vol. 2 (1853), 166.
  • 9. 'A very good hall at the entrance [the modern Dining Room] leads you to a large parlour and drawing-room on the right hand that opens to the gardens, a very good little parlour on the left with servants room, and another parlour for smoking, all well wainscoted and painted, and the offices convenient; in an angle the stairs leads up half way into the middle of the house and so divides in four parts and runs to each angle a cross visto ways through the house' (Journeys of Celia Fiennes, ed. C. Morris (Cresset Press, 1947), 14, 15).
  • 10. The Ashmolean sketch shows Hera standing.
  • 11. See footnote, p. 163.
  • 12. Though suggestive of Imperial Rome, the Antique prototype for the design is not known. Hawksmoor's Woodstock Gate of 1723 to Blenheim, though Corinthian, may perhaps have been the pattern.