Pages 259-263

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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In this section

29 POXWELL (7484)

(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 78 SW, SY 78 SE)

Poxwell is a small L-shaped parish of some 900 acres, 5 m. S.E. of Dorchester. In the N., a long narrow strip of land orientated E.-W. all on Chalk between 300 and 490 ft. above O.D. is cut into by dry valleys draining N.E.; the E. part of the parish projects southward over outcrops of Portland and Purbeck Beds giving a steep slope into a valley where the Upton Brook, on Wealden Beds, forms the S. boundary. There have been some small boundary changes in the last 100 years involving a gain from the former parish of Preston in the W. and a loss to the parish of Watercombe in the E.

The only settlement is the village in the E. of the parish in one of the deep Chalk valleys. It contains a fine manor house of c. 1600, the principal monument; the cottages in the village and ½ m. to the S. were all built or rebuilt in the 19th century by the Trenchards, who had held the manor since the end of the 17th century. Remains of the former open fields exist all round the village.


a(1) The Parish Church of St. John the Baptist stands in the middle of the parish. It was built in 1868 when the old church, which stood some 70 yds. further W., was pulled down and it contains fittings from the old church.

Bell: inscribed 'Sancta Katerina Or[a pro nobis]' in black letter, 15th-century, cast at Wokingham, Berks. Coffin Stools: pair, with turned legs, 18th-century. Monuments: in N. transept, on W. wall, (1) to Joseph Kingstone Warne, 1823, and Leah his wife, 1838, marble tablet surmounted by urn and scrolls against stone background; (2) to Roger Warne, 1831, and Martha daughter of Joseph Kingstone and Leah Warne, 1834, white marble tablet against grey background, signed [Hellyer] Weymouth; (3) to Mary Anne daughter of Joseph Kingstone and Leah Warne, 1846, pedimented marble tablet against grey background. In S. transept, on E. wall, (4) to George Pickard, B.C.L., rector, 1840, and ffrances (Payne) his wife, 1828, tablet in Gothic frame, signed R. Brown, 58 Gt. Russell St., London. Plate: includes a cup, two stand-patens and a flagon all of 1843–4.



a(2) Conduit (100 yds. N.), of stone, inscribed 'This conduit was erected by John T. Trenchard Esq. for the use of the Poor of his parish of Poxwell 1843', with shield-of-arms.

a(3) Poxwell House (60 yds. S.W.), of two storeys and attics, has walls of Portland ashlar and coursed rubble and tiled roofs with stone slates at the eaves (Plate 148).

Queen Elizabeth I granted Poxwell, which had belonged to Cerne Abbey, to Thomas Howard, Esq., who sold it to John Henning, merchant; it passed to the Trenchards of Lytchett Matravers and Wolfeton by the marriage of Elizabeth Henning to Col. Thomas Trenchard in 1695 (Hutchins III, 326). The house was built c. 1600. The intention appears to have been to build on an H-shaped plan with cross wings at the N. and S. ends and a central porch on the E. front; the S. cross wing however was never built except for the lower part of the projecting N. wall, which now forms part of the garden wall. Early in the 17th century a small addition was made in the angle between the N. cross wing and the main range; a little later in the century the N. cross wing was extended to form a long W. wing, which has been partly rebuilt. In 1934 the house was thoroughly restored and new roofs were built. The W. wing was remodelled and extended further to the W.; the S. wall of the main range was rebuilt; many of the windows were partly or completely restored, and the interior was modernised.

Poxwell House is an attractive country house of c. 1600 with a plan deriving directly from that of the typical late mediaeval manor house and, in design, drawing little upon the Classical repertory except in the symmetry of the intended E. front and in a few decorative features. The small brick gatehouse is unusual.

Architectural Description—The East Front has a gabled projection at the N. end and a lower two-storey gabled porch. The walling is of ashlar with a moulded plinth and a string-course above the lower windows; the gables are finished with embattled finials. The porch has an entrance archway with moulded jambs and semicircular head flanked by shell-headed niches. These niches are repeated in the side walls inside the porch. In one of the inner niches is scratched the date and initials '1618 R.M.'. The inner doorway has moulded jambs and rusticated semicircular head with jewelled imposts and keystone. The windows are of four transomed lights; those in the E. front of the projection at the N. end are modern, replacing sash windows; others have been partly restored; the windows in the gables are smaller and without transoms. The North Elevation of the original building is of ashlar with a moulded plinth and string-courses and is carried up to four gables; at the W. end is a doorway with a four-centred head bearing graffito I.S. 1626. The windows are not symmetrically arranged; most of them are transomed and are original but restored. The western extension has walls of coursed rubble with moulded plinth and string-course and heavily restored and modern windows of one, two and three lights. The West Elevation of the main block is of coursed rubble with moulded plinth and string-course; at the N. end the wall is carried up into an original gable and further S. a modern gable has been built. The doorway has moulded jambs and depressed four-centred head; to the S. two small modern windows replace a former four-light window. The added projection against the N. cross wing is gabled to the W. and has original mullioned windows restored. The South Elevation of the W. wing has been rebuilt and most of the windows are modern; the dormer windows are all modern but four of the five replace older ones. The S. end of the main block has been rebuilt in coursed rubble with modern doorway and windows.

Poxwell House

The Great Hall (30½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has in the N. wall a doorway of reset stonework with moulded jambs and continuous semicircular head and in the S. wall another doorway with moulded stone jambs, moulded imposts and semicircular head. The fireplace (Plate 150) was for a time in a first-floor room at the N.E. angle of the house; it is of stone and has flanking engaged coupled Corinthian columns carrying an enriched entablature and pediment enclosing a cherub's head and at the sides are figures of a putto and a bearded man under a crowning cornice which is lifted in the middle to enclose a small figure of Diana. The walls are lined with early 17th-century panelling brought from elsewhere. The screens passage S. of the hall has in the S. wall two stone doorways with moulded jambs and depressed three-centred heads; there may have been a third doorway further E. but there is now no evidence for it. Parts of the original service rooms, and possibly of the kitchen, are now occupied by the Gun Room. The Parlour and the Boudoir have original fireplaces with four-centred heads. The Dining Room has a large open fireplace with three-centred head and an oven in the E. abutment; it has evidently been a kitchen; the walls are lined with 17th-century panelling reused. On the first floor there are also old stone fireplaces, one with a flat lintel dated 1669.

Grounds and Outbuildings—The Garden E. of the house is enclosed by walls contemporary with the gatehouse described below; they are mainly of red brick built partly on a stone base, and the N. wall has a stone facing on the N. side; the brickwork has on the inside a network diaper in black headers, a moulded plinth and moulded dentils below the coping. In the S. wall is a doorway with moulded round stone head and continuous jambs; a corresponding doorway to the N. has an old stone head, but the jambs are of later brick. Over the N. doorway are three terracotta plaques, one bearing the crowned head of Anne Boleyn and the others with her badge, uniform with those at Lulworth, West, Monument (11).

In the middle of the E. wall is a hexagonal Gatehouse (Plate 149) dated 1634; it is of two storeys, built of brick with stone dressings and string-courses and with a pyramidal tiled roof; at each corner is a small round projection built of curved bricks and finished with a finial above a band of glazed bricks with embossed jewel ornament and the initial H. In the E. and W. walls are archways with moulded jambs and semicircular heads, one with a dated keystone. The upper floor is reached by an external staircase and has two-light windows to E. and W.

Barn, on S. side of courtyard W. of house, has walls of rubble with tiled roof; it is of eight bays and of the 17th century but the four bays to the E. are probably earlier than those to the W. In the E. end are original trusses of jointed-cruck construction; on the S.E. quoin are scratched the initials H H, presumably for Henry Henning. In the W. part only one original truss remains; it is also of jointed-cruck construction but with longer lower members than those of the E. trusses (cf. Winfrith Newburgh (3), Fig., Pt. I, p. lxv); in a door jamb is a stone, reset, bearing the initials R.H., presumably for Richard Henning. Richard was the Christian name of both the father and the grandfather of Henry Henning who died in 1699. To the W. of the barn are open-fronted sheds with a rubble back wall.

On the W. side of the courtyard is a range of outbuildings including Stables with jointed-cruck trusses also of the 17th century and with a 17th-century window of two lights under an eared label.

a(4) Manor Farm (100 yds. N.N.W.). The farmhouse to the N.W. is modern but the farm buildings are of interest.

Barn, at N.W. corner of farmyard, has squared rubble walls and tiled roof with stone slates at the eaves and is of the late 16th century. It is of six bays (plan, Pt. 1, p. lxvi) and the N. and S. ends are gabled with plain copings and finials. The W. porch has a hipped roof and the larger E. porch is of two storeys and gabled. In the W. wall is a blocked doorway with chamfered jambs and four-centred head and in the S. wall is a small window of two-centred lights set in a rectangular recess below a quatrefoil with sunk spandrels. The whole is cut from one stone and is probably reused from an earlier building of the late 15th or early 16th century. The roof is carried on five trusses of which four are of jointed raised cruck type with the posts that form the lower parts of the curck blades standing on short lengths of timber built into the walls. The fifth truss (Fig., Pt. I, p. lxv) is built in two tiers; the main jointed crucks do not reach to the apex but are continued by secondary crucks standing on a collar (cf. Bradford on Avon tithe barn for similar construction). The dates 1772 and 1773 scratched on the stonework may give the date of repairs to the roof. Barn, on S. side of farmyard, with walls of squared rubble and a thatched roof, is of the first half of the 18th century. To the S. is a large two-storey porch of which the upper part, of brick, was reached by a free-standing stone staircase by the W. wall. The roof is carried on arch-braced collar-beam trusses. Pigeon House, to the S.W., with walls of squared rubble and tiled roof with stone slates at the eaves, is probably of the late 17th century. The original doorway has a four-centred head; the pigeon holes remain in the lower part. The upper floor and the E. doorway are later insertions. Granary, to the S., has brick walls carried on timber sills laid on staddle stones, and a tiled roof.

a(5) House (100 yds. N.), now two cottages, is of one storey and attics with rubble walls and thatched roof; it bears an inscription 'J T T extend. et ornav. 1846'; the date of the original building is uncertain, perhaps late 17th-century.

Poxwell, Cottages Dated 1843

a(6) Cottages (Plate 49), a group of four pairs (250–350 yds. N.), of one storey and attics with walls of squared rubble and thatched roofs, are dated 1843, with the initials of John T. Trenchard. Each dwelling has a living kitchen with small pantry and staircase partitioned off at the back and a projecting outhouse. One pair has a gable on the front elevation and was formerly used as a school.

a(7) John Beer's Cottage (700 yds. S.), of two storeys with rubble walls and thatched roof, was built as a central-chimney house in the late 17th or early 18th century and was extended at both ends and converted into cottages by J. T. Trenchard in 1841, as shown by an inscription stone.

a(8) Old Down Barn (732842), with rubble walls and thatched roof, is probably of the late 18th or early 19th century. It has one porch facing a small yard and has become ruinous.

a(9) Higher Down Barn (725845), with walls of coursed flint and rubble in alternate bands, is a roofless ruin standing on the W. side of a walled yard and is probably of the early 17th century. A porch projects from the middle of each side.

Diagram of Mediaeval Fields, Poxwell

Earthworks, etc.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

a,b(10) Strip Lynchets: fragmentary remains at eight places, cover 41 acres. Traces of other strips just visible on air photographs, as well as characteristic angular indents in field banks and details on the Tithe Map of 1839, add to the picture of former open-field arrangements. These open fields seem to have covered virtually the whole parish E. of the curving boundary line linking Poxwell Grove (739848) to the angle in the parish boundary S.E. of Old Down Barn (734840). At the N.E. remains of open fields lie against the indented parish boundary with Watercombe. S. of this, other fields, possibly mediaeval in origin, cross the modern parish boundary into land recently transferred from Poxwell to Watercombe.

The remains are of contour type W. of the village (around 741847, 739842, 735839, 739837 ('Voscombe Mead' in 1839)), E. of the village (746837) and in the S. of the parish (738833). At 751846 ('High Sun Corner' in 1839) much-ploughed remains possibly represent former shallow strip lynchets. Around 744843, in the former East Field, they are of up-anddown type, butting against contour type. Treads are up to 300 yds. long and 20 yds. wide and risers up to 12 ft. high. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821:4443–5, 6435–7.) Evidence, found in 1967, shows Romano-British settlement on 'Celtic' fields under strip lynchets at 736840 (Dorset Procs. to come).

Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments

(11–14) Round Barrows, p. 450.

Ancient Field Group (11), p. 627.