Pages 327-329

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

40 WARMWELL (7585)

(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 78 NW, bSY 78 NE)

Warmwell parish covers a rectangular area of 1,697 acres, 5 miles S.E. of Dorchester. The S. boundary lies on the Chalk just N. of the E. end of the S. Dorset Ridgeway at a height of about 300 ft. above O.D. The land slopes gently down to the N. towards the middle of the parish where Reading Beds overlie the Chalk. This middle area is well wooded and in it lies Warmwell village, the only major settlement, standing near the source of a small brook which flows north-wards to join a tributary of the Frome. The N. part of the parish is all heathland on Bagshot Beds, sloping very slightly down from N. and S. to the tributary of the Frome flowing eastwards across it.

In the heathland area is a strip of some 140 acres, marked by continuous hedgelines, which until 1882 was a detached part of the parish of West Knighton.

Warmwell is a small village with few old buildings. Part of the open fields of the parish remained until 1868 (Enclosure Award in D.C.R.O., see also Tithe Map c. 1845). Warmwell House is the principal monument.


b(1) The Parish Church of the Holy Trinity stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are of rubble with freestone dressings and the roofs are covered with tiles and stone slates. The Nave was built in the 13th century. The West Tower was added or rebuilt in the 17th century. The North Porch is of uncertain date; the church was restored in 1851 and a new Chancel was built in 1881 by R. C. Bennett of Weymouth.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Nave (43¾ ft. by 19 ft.) has two windows in the N. wall, the eastern of the 15th century and of three cinque-foiled lights in a square head with moulded reveals, the western of the 16th century and of three elliptical-headed lights in a square head. The restored 13th-century N. doorway has jambs and a two-centred arch of one chamfered order; E. of the porch is a blocking of a former lancet window. In the S. wall are two windows generally similar to those opposite. The 13th-century S. doorway, now blocked, has chamfered jambs and two-centred head; above it are the lines of the former roof of a porch; further E. is a blocked 13th-century lancet window.

The West Tower (8½ ft. by 10½ ft.), of the 17th century, is of two stages with a plain parapet and without buttresses. In the E. wall is a reset 15th-century doorway with wave-moulded jambs and a two-centred head. In the W. wall is a rectangular window with modern brick splays and there is a similar window above. The bell-chamber has, in each of the N., S., and W. walls, a rectangular window. The North Porch has an outer archway with chamfered jambs and two-centred head.

Fittings—Bells: four; 2nd and 4th dated 1629, by R. Austen (Walters, 120); 3rd dated 1659. Consecration Cross: on jamb of N. doorway—deeply incised cross potent. Font: of Purbeck marble, tapering octagonal bowl with two panels with pointed heads in each face; central stem with eight modern subsidiary shafts, original base on modern sub-base, early 13th-century. Monuments: In nave—on N. wall, (1) to Maria Sophia daughter of William Richards, 1833, white marble tablet on grey marble backing surmounted by draped and fluted urn, signed Patent Works, Esher St., Westminster; on S. wall. (2) to William Richards, 1803, and Margaret (Clavell) his wife, 1817, white marble tablet on grey marble backing surmounted by shield-shaped tablet with shield-of-arms, signed Hiscock fecit, Blandford; (3) to Susanna and Edward, children of William and Margaret Richards, 1803, white marble tablet with pediment enclosing oval with shield-of-arms, signed Hiscock fecit, Blandford. In churchyard—S. of chancel, (5) to Henry Vie, 1691, table-tomb; S. of nave, (6) two table-tombs, probably late 17th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten of 1663, with that date on cup. Pulpit: of oak, polygonal with moulded panels and moulded cornice, 18th-century. Sundial: on S. wall of tower—stone with dial, initials and date AG 1646 IC. Miscellanea: reset inside second stage of tower, two trefoiled window heads and other fragments, probably 14th-century.


b(2) Warmwell House (150 yds. N.E.), of two storeys and attic, has walls of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar facing to the S. front (Plate 175); the roofs are covered with stone slates and tiles. The manor was acquired in 1526 by Sir Thomas Trenchard of Wolfeton, and in 1687 it passed to the Richards family. The present house was built in the first half of the 17th century, probably by Sir John Trenchard who inherited the property in 1618 (Hutchins I, 430). The S.E. part of the house may include the remains of an earlier building. The N.W. wing, which may have been built as stables and outhouses, was much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries: the S.E. part was heightened from one to two storeys and the whole widened. Alterations to the main S. part of the house include the remodelling of the first-floor drawing room in the early 19th century, and the addition of a two-storey bay window to the S.W. end and the restoration of other windows c. 1850.

Warmwell House in the Country of Dorset

The plan of the house is unusual and may be compared with that of Newhouse Farm, Goodrich (R.C.H.M., Herefordshire I, 80) and of Newhouse in Whiteparish, Wiltshire, described as 'lately erected' in 1619.

Architectural Description—The South-East Front, with its two ends canted forward, has a moulded plinth and moulded string-courses above the windows; the wall is carried up into three gables finished with shaped parapets consisting of quadrants and semicircles, the latter flanked by circular chimneys and surmounted by shaped and embattled finials. In the middle is an open recessed porch entered by an arcade of two round arches, enriched and partly moulded, springing from a Tuscan central column and attached half columns at the responds; the arcade is framed by half columns rising to a debased and enriched entablature above the arches. Over the entablature is an inserted tablet carved with the crest of Richards. The inner doorway has a four-centred head and continuous stop-chamfered jambs and is flanked by shell-headed niches. The windows are of two, three and four lights, transomed on the ground floor, and, except to the attics, mostly restored in modern stonework. The roof is drained by four lead spouts with serrated edges carried on scrolled wrought-iron brackets. The S.W. end of the S.E. block has been refaced. The N.E. end is irregular with three straight-sided gables at different angles; under the S. gable and over a modern first-floor window is the outline of a blocked semi-circular opening; the staircase wing under the middle gable has a doorway with four-centred head and mullioned windows mostly restored; under the N. gable the ground floor has twin two-light windows of the 15th century reused and probably brought from the church; they have cinque-foiled lights and vertical tracery in two-centred heads.

The North-West Wing has the external wall to the E. patched and heightened in 18th-century brick; all the windows are modern but there are remains of blocked 18th-century windows with segmental heads. The opposite side is of the early 19th century, though a reset doorway recessed behind an archway is of the 17th century and has a three-centred head and continuous stop-chamfered jambs; the windows are of two lights with moulded labels. The lower N.W. part of the wing has been altered; there are traces of blocked openings on the E. side.

Inside, between the entrance hall and the main stair hall is a reset stone archway which was found blocked in the N. wall of the dining room; the arch is of the 17th century, semicircular and enriched with rosettes, and springs from enriched imposts; the jambs are moulded with three rolls and are probably mediaeval. To the W. of the entrance hall is a stone doorway with chamfered four-centred head. The main Staircase is of stone with stone balustrading between rectangular piers supporting columns which carry the upper floor. A secondary spiral stone staircase adjoins the Morning Room. The Dining Room has a restored late 16th-century oak fireplace surround said to have come from the Old Rooms, Trinity Street, Weymouth (87); it has flanking terminal figures and enriched mantelshelf and overmantel divided into three bays by winged terminal figures, two holding shields; in the centre panel is a small picture within enriched framing and scroll-work; the outer panels have arched framing; below the top cornice is a frieze carved with monsters and grotesque masks. The Oak Room, to the N., is lined with reset 17th-century panelling in five heights and divided into bays by enriched pilasters with carved frieze panels and cornice above; one of the doorways has a 17th-century oak frame with cambered head. The fireplace has a restored arched stone head and is flanked by pairs of oak Ionic columns carrying an enriched mantelshelf; the overmantel is divided by paired Ionic columns into two bays with arched panels containing mirrors. In the N.W. wing a former Kitchen has an 18th-century fireplace with segmental-arched stone head with a keystone. On the first floor, the Long Gallery is lined with early 17th-century panelling with enriched frieze and modern cornice; the doorways have original moulded oak frames; the restored or modern fireplace has an overmantel incorporating carved and enriched panels of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Drawing Room was remodelled early in the 19th century; a new coved ceiling was put in to replace a plaster barrel vault, of which there are some remains in the roof, and the walls were lined with panelled plaster; the door surrounds and panels of palms and ribands over the doorways and S. windows were put in later. Adjoining the N.E. corner of the drawing room is a recess which was probably a garderobe.

The Roof-space is partly fitted up as attics. The trusses generally have tie beams and braced collar beams, but those over the drawing room are without tie beams and have the braces carefully shaped to form a semicircle and morticed for the bearers for a plaster barrel vault. The blocked archway over the E. window of the drawing room is concentric with the outline of the vault. Parts of the roof have been renewed and rearranged.

b(3) Cottage (30 yds. N.N.W.) has rubble walls of the 17th century heightened in brick to two storeys in the late 18th century when a back wing was added. The roof has been covered with modern metal sheeting following a fire which destroyed the interior. The original plan seems to have comprised a hall and a second smaller room; the original stone-mullioned windows remain.

b(4) Granary and Barn (100 yds. N.), with brick and rubble walls and tiled roofs, are of the early 19th century, the barn being dated T.B. 1808.

a(5) Vyse Barn (320 yds. W.N.W.), with brick walls and thatched roof, is of the late 18th century and has been partly converted into a dwelling.

b(6) Cottages, two (200 yds. N.), have brick walls and slated roof and are of the early 19th century.

b(7) Mount Cottage (350 yds. N.N.E.), of two storeys, has coursed rubble walls with ashlar dressings and a slated roof. It was built in the late 16th century and extended to the N. in the 17th century with cob walls and thatched roof. The original part was heightened to give two full storeys in the 18th century, and the N. part of the extension was pulled down c. 1950.

The original house was built on a two-room plan with the entrance in the N. gable wall between the staircase and the only chimney. The S. room was divided into two by a timber-framed partition, since removed. The W. front retains original stone-mullioned windows.

a(8) Warmwell Mill (748873), of three storeys with walls of brick and rubble and slated roof, is of the late 18th or early 19th century. In the mid 19th century the mill was enlarged to double its original size and the miller's house was built. Three pairs of stones on the first floor of the mill are driven by a breast-shot wheel which has wooden spokes and iron plates and rim, inscribed 'J. J. Pople, Winfrith'.

Earthworks, Etc.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

b(9) Settlement Remains (753863), formerly part of Warmwell village, cover 6 acres N. of it. The site is now partly wet with a sunken road running through the remains. In c. 1845 the area was known as 'Golehays' (Tithe Map). (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 6434.).

Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments

(10) Round Barrow, p. 455