Chaldon Herring

Pages 33-37

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


(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 78 SE, bSY 78 NE, cSY 88 SW)

The parish of Chaldon Herring covering 3,106 acres lies 8 m. S.E. of Dorchester. It is divisible into two distinct parts both geographically and historically. The S. two-thirds comprises a compact rectangular block of land stretching N. from the steep cliffs which form the S. seaward boundary. Most of this area is on Chalk with a general E.-W. ridge over 500 ft. above O.D. from which dry valleys drain S. and N. Further N. the Chalk has been eroded and the underlying Wealden Beds exposed. These in turn give way to a well-marked E.-W. ridge of Chalk at 300 ft. to 400 ft. above O.D. beyond which the land slopes N. to the edge of the heathland. The N. third of the parish, a narrow triangular area with the apex to the N., is on Reading Beds and river gravel which give rise to extensive heathland.

The S. part of the parish originally had two settlements, Chaldon Herring or East Chaldon and Chaldon Boys or West Chaldon, the latter once being a separate parish. The N. part of the parish was the land of the small settlement of Fossil (now West Fossil Farm) situated on the edge of the heath.

The deserted village of Holworth, showing some of the best remains of the kind in the county, is now in the parish but was formerly part of a detached block of Milton Abbas parish (see p. 35). These remains, The Grange and the unusually well preserved and extensive 'Celtic' fields in the S. of the parish are the principal monuments.


a(1) The Parish Church of St. Nicholas stands at the S. end of the village. The walls are of local limestone rubble with dressings of similar stone; the roofs are covered with tiles and stone slates. The Nave was built in the second half of the 14th century but only the N. wall of this date survives. The West Tower was begun towards the end of the same century but not completed in the upper stage until the following century, when too the North Porch was built. The Chancel was rebuilt in 1877–8 and the South Aisle and S. arcade were built or rebuilt at the same time. The Organ Chamber is an addition of c. 1900.

The Church, Plan

Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 16 ft.) is of 1877–8 but reset in the E. wall is a 14th-century window of three cinque-foiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label. The N. and S. walls have each a reset and partly restored 14th-century window of two trefoiled lights in a square head with moulded reveals.

The Nave (36 ft. by 17 ft.) has, in the N. wall, two windows; that to the E. is of three lights with trefoiled openings in a square head with a label and is extensively renewed; the 14th-century western window is similar to the side windows in the chancel. The 14th-century N. doorway has moulded jambs and two-centred head with a chamfered segmental rear arch. The S. arcade together with the South Aisle (37¼ ft. by 9½ ft.) is of 1877–8.

The West Tower (8½ ft. by 9½ ft.) is of the end of the 14th century but appears to have been some time in building; it is of two stages outside, three storeys inside, with angle and diagonal buttresses in two weathered stages and an embattled parapet. The two-centred tower arch is of one continuous widely chamfered order rising from chamfered bases. The W. window is of two trefoiled lights with blind tracery in a two-centred head with moulded reveals and label and a chamfered rear arch. The second storey has a rectangular window in both the N. and S. walls; that in the S. is now built up. In each wall of the 15th-century belfry stage is a contemporary window of two trefoiled lights in a square head filled with late 19th-century stone grilles. The tower vice is entered through a doorway with a four-centred head and stop-chamfered jambs; it rises only to the second storey. The floor of this last is supported on shaped stone corbels.

The North Porch (7 ft. by 8½ ft.), gabled to the N., has a 15th-century two-centred outer archway of one moulded order. In the E. wall is a quatre-foiled window of the same date.

Fittings—Bells: three; 1st by William Purdue, 1615; 3rd late mediaeval and inscribed 'Ave Maria' in black-letter. Font: plain tapering cylindrical bowl, probably late 11th-century, with later mortices for staples. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In tower—on N. wall, (1) to Sarah (Mohun), widow of John Gould, 1774, white marble cartouche with well carved undercut foliate frame and small blank cartouche below; (2) to Henry Worrall, 1770, and Judith (Mohun) his widow, 1788, black and white marble tablet with side pilasters, cornice and blank cartouche on apron below; on S. wall, (3) to Richard Gostelowe, 1762, Ann his widow, 1794, and Ann, widow of Orlebar Gostelowe, 1786, erected by Ann, niece of the first, white and grey marble shield-shaped tablet with urn and, formerly, palm branches below. In churchyard—N. of porch, (4) to Willim Bridee, 1698, foot-stone. Floor-slab: In tower, to Edward(?) Cowper, . . . ., Richard Gostelowe, 1806. Niche: In porch—in E. wall, recess (stoup?) with pointed head and three-sided projecting pedestal with moulded base, 15th-century. Plate: includes an Elizabethan cup and cover-paten, the former with engraved ornament and the latter with Lawrence Stratford's mark and the inscribed date 1573. Stoup: see Niche above. Miscellanea: Reset in E. wall of chancel, stone with plain cross. In W. wall of S. aisle, fragments of window tracery, mediaeval.


a(2) Cross (300 yds. N. by E.), on the W. edge of the village green, square stone base only, with central socket, mediaeval.

Unless otherwise described the houses in this parish are of one storey and attics, the walls are of rubble and the roofs thatched.

a(3) The Grange (30 yds. E.S.E.) is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of squared and coursed rubble and the roofs mostly of stone slates but with tiles above the level of the dormer windows. It was built in the late 16th century, drastically altered in the early 18th century and renovated and enlarged in the 19th century. Few features of the 16th-century house remain, the circular stone staircase being the most important.

Chaldon Herring: The Grange

The external doorway to the stone staircase has a square head and chamfered jambs with simple vase stops, and the lower S. window has a hollow-chamfered stone surround. E. of the staircase is a blocked ground-floor window with a label and above it another window without a label.

The late 16th-century plan by inference comprised a hall, with probably the parlour to the E. and the kitchen to the W. The hall, which had the stone staircase S. of the upper end, was entered from a passage at the W. end, the front doorway then being in much the same position as the present doorway. In the early 18th century, perhaps after a fire, the N. front wall was rebuilt with symmetrical fenestration, the ground-floor ceilings raised, a large well-staircase added and the whole building heightened; the present hipped roof and hipped dormer windows are of this date. It is remarkable that the 16th-century moulded jambs were reused in the 18th-century windows, of quite different proportions, with the addition of keystones. The other internal fittings that have survived the 19th-century renovations include the well-staircase with close strings, turned balusters and newels, some with pendants, and moulded handrail, and the panelled casings to arched openings through the cross walls on the first floor, all of the 18th century.

In the garden wall E. of the house is a reset late 16th-century stone archway, now blocked, with semicircular moulded head, moulded imposts and jambs.

a(4) House (350 yds. N.N.E.), on the N. side of the village green, is of the early 17th century. In the 18th century a Barn was added at the W. end, and in the early 19th century an outhouse with a lean-to roof was built at the back.

a(5) House, 35 yds. E.S.E. of (4), at the E. end of the village green, now comprises two tenements in the early 17th-century part to the E., with a third tenement added on the W. in the 19th century. In the original building, where the plan may have comprised two rooms, the W. room contains a fireplace with a cambered timber lintel. The front has been largely refaced in brick.

a(6) Cottage (265 yds. N.E.), of cob, and of the early 19th century, may incorporate part of a 17th-century house.

a(7) West Chaldon Farm, house (778829), is of the early 17th century in origin. It was then a small house aligned N. and S. with a plan consisting of two rooms and a through passage, the fireplaces being in the gable walls. Later in the century a kitchen was added on the N.E. side to produce an L-shaped plan; the kitchen wing was subsequently prolonged to the E. by the addition of a storeroom. In the middle of the 19th century a large block was added on the original S. end, producing a half-H plan. Remains of mediaeval settlement lie to N. and S. (Monument 21).

The farmyard, which lies S.W. of the house, has on the S. side two large Barns forming a continuous range (plan, p. lxvi). The E. barn, of cob faced with brick, was built in the early years of the 18th century, and the W. barn, which is of brick, towards the end of the century. Each barn has two opposed porches, those on the N. side being of two storeys. The upper room of the N.E. porch has a N. window with a wooden frame, two iron bars, and hinges inside for shutters. The ceiling, which is below the collar beams, and the walls have been plastered. This room has a partition and a door towards the barn. Three wooden corn bins appear to be original fittings. The main roof trusses of the E. barn have principal rafters into which collar beams are tenoned, the joints being strengthened by solid curved braces secured to both members by pegged through-tenons. The W. barn has collar-beam trusses with notched joints and trimmed poles for the common rafters.

b(8) West Fossil Farm, house (794851), of two storeys with a slated roof, was built in the early 17th century, when the plan probably comprised two heated rooms with a dairy or pantry between. It was altered and extended in the 18th and 19th centuries. Barn, S.E. of the house, of brick with a tiled roof, is of the late 18th century; it was heightened in the 19th century.

b(9) West Fossil Dairy, 300 yds. W. of (8), was built in the 18th century. The house consists of a range of four rooms with a central chimney-stack of brick.

The following Monuments (10–13) were built in the early 19th century.

a(10) Cottages, two (200 yds. N.W.), of two storeys; the N. cottage has a date stone inscribed TW 1818.

a(11) Cottage (230 yds. N.E.).

a(12) 'The Sailor's Return', public house (430 yds. N.), is of two storeys and of cob.

a(13) Cottage, 30 yds. N.W. of (12).

b(14) Tadnoll Mill (792869) stands on a stream that crosses the extreme N. end of the parish. It is of brick, of three storeys, and of the late 18th century; the wheel survives. An addition to the N., of chalk rubble, has a keystone inscribed 1841 JB (for James Bascombe?).

The following barns (15–19), which have two opposed porches, were built in the late 18th or early 19th century. Unless otherwise described they are thatched, the larger porches having hipped, the smaller lean-to, roofs.

a(15) Down Barn (778817) is of rubble, with a slated roof.

a(16) Chaldon Down Buildings (784818) is of random chalk blocks on a flint plinth, with a tiled roof.

a(17) Barn (140 yds. N.E.), at Vicarage Farm, has closely spaced roof trusses with numerous purlins of trimmed poles and no common rafters. (Demolished)

a(18) Ford's Barn (160 yds. N.N.E.) is of rubble.

b(19) Barn (790867), at Tadnoll Dairy, is of cob.

Earthworks, Etc.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

a(20) Holworth, deserted mediaeval village (771833), immediately E. of Holworth Farm (Owermoigne 13), is a complex of scarps and banks on either side of a partly sunk W. to E. road (see plan p. 36). The site, together with the adjacent areas of Owermoigne, was formerly a detached part of Milton Abbas parish due to King Athelstan's grant of six hides at Holworth to Milton Abbey in 933. Of three Holworths known to belong to Milton Abbas this might be either 'East' or 'North' Holworth. The last significant reference to Holworth is apparently that in the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1333 when fourteen persons were mentioned (Hutchins IV, 398; A. Fägersten, 143; P.R.O., Exch. Q. R. (E. 179/103/5)). Excavations made in 1958 on behalf of the D.N.H.A.S. produced mediaeval pottery continuing to the 15th century but no evidence for occupation after that date (Dorset Procs. LXXXI (1959), 127–47).

The remains lie on the N.-facing slope of a shallow valley through which runs a small stream. The subsoil includes clays and grits of the Wealden Beds and the site needed careful drainage. The area has been disturbed by shallow quarrying but is now in permanent pasture and cut by a recent track, running from N.W. to S.E. (not shown on plan). The modern fields to the E. and S.W. have been heavily ploughed destroying any evidence for an extension of the settlement. The road crossing the site from W. to E. is blocked at both ends by hedgerows but was once continuous with the present track to Holworth Farm from the W.S.W.; it is 20 ft. to 30 ft. wide. A narrow terrace-way runs N. from the road past a later pond. To the E. a series of seven roughly square, platform-like enclosures ('tofts'), each of about ⅓ acre, lines the N. side of the road. One of these, (a), was excavated in 1958. Most seem to have sunken ways in from the N. in their N.W. angles, and their banks have been much robbed. To the N. of each lies a long narrow field ('croft') defined by banks or low scarps and varying in size from some 280 ft. by 70 ft. to 300 ft. by 100 ft.; there is little evidence of ploughing in them and they run down to wet meadowland.

Chaldon Herring. (20) Holworth, deserted mediaeval village.

A slight near-rectangular enclosure (b), about 40 ft. by 22 ft., in the W. angle of the road and the terrace-way to the N., perhaps the site of a building, is at the S.E. angle of a block of earthworks notably different in character from the tofts.

S. of the road the slope increases and few of the closes are flat. At the extreme W., a scarp 8 ft. high dropping to the road may perhaps be a relic of 'Celtic' fields. A terrace-way, marked on the upper side by a positive lynchet 4 ft. and more high, lines the S. edge of the main part of the field. Between it and the road and at right angles to both are fragmentary banks, lines of scarps and a long wide hollow; this last, S.W. of (a) and possibly a track, may be relatively late if the cutting at its S. end through the terrace-way is original. There are no signs of settlement on the S. of the terrace-way which runs E. to join a N. to S. track.

Immediately S. of the W.-E. road at its E. end an oblong feature (c), 30 ft. by 12 ft. to 15 ft., possibly marks footings of a building though its surface slopes E. at an angle of some 3½° and the E. end is open.

In 1936 the Rev. D. Dixey and Mr. H. S. L. Dewar carried out trial excavations (typescript in D.C.M.). Mediaeval pottery including 13th-century forms was among the finds from three places, of which one was a triangular platform, (d), where partly dressed stones were also found. Other potsherds, including 'scratch-mark' ware, were found in the toft E. of (a) during the Commission's survey. In 1958 toft (a) was excavated (i.e. toft (5) in Dorset Procs., op. cit.). The excavator thought that the scarped platform forming the toft resulted from a long period of casual build-up. Two periods of occupation were established.

Period I probably antedated the toft lay-out; no building was found but pits, ditches and a few post-holes contained pottery probably of the 12th to 13th century or earlier. Period II, from the 13th to the 15th century, was represented by stone footings of a structure, 68 ft. by 17 ft. externally, at the S.W. angle of the toft, with the long axis parallel to the road. This may have been a three-roomed house, three separate buildings with common walls or, most likely, two buildings separated by a yard bounded by a wall on the S. The wall footings, mainly of flint, were very slight and probably supported a timber framework; at least two phases of rebuilding were noted. There was no archaeological evidence for settlement after the 15th century. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 4440.)

a(21) Settlement Remains at West Chaldon Farm (77778277 and 77838305) cover some 2 acres. S. of the farm are two much disturbed platforms, and N. of it largely formless remains include a platform and a rectangular flat depression. (Hutchins I, 343; R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 4439.)

a(22) Strip Lynchets at West Chaldon are in two groups: S. of West Chaldon Farm (776824) are 7 acres of much broken contour strip lynchets; on the S.W. spur of High Chaldon (779828) are 6 acres of both contour and up-anddown types. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 4439.)

a(23) Settlement Remains, formerly part of Chaldon Herring village (78958344 and 79138350), cover 6 acres W. and E. of the road N. from the village; they are almost obliterated. The chapel was incorporated by 1801 into a house, since destroyed. (Hutchins I, 341, 343; Fägersten, 138; R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821:4436.)

a(24) Strip Fields remain in two blocks E. of the probable boundary between West and East Chaldon. Faint traces suggest that the downland between was largely covered by strip fields. The Tithe Map shows West Field S. of the church with East Field to the E. The remains, mostly in pasture, are generally of contour strip lynchets with treads occasionally over 500 yds. long, probably incorporating two or more strips end to end. They are 3 yds. to 15 yds. wide, with risers 9 ins. to 20 ft. high; ends are quarter round, drawn-out or ramped. There are apparent traces of abandoned up-and-down strips about 785831.

(a) Around 785830 strips occur in a number of former furlongs over an area of some 60 acres on both sides of a valley. Some treads have a reversed-S plan. Narrow rig remains in places. The present road, shown on the I in. O.S. map of 1811, probably runs over strips but in 1765 was differently aligned (on I. Taylor's map), suggesting that the area was enclosed between those dates. In a hollow N. of the Hut Dairy remains of up-and-down type only 37 yds. long are cut by contour strip lynchets indicating a radical change in part of the furlong arrangements of the open field.

(b) From 787820 groups of strip lynchets run S. to S.W. along the sides of a dry valley. At the S. they clearly overlie 'Celtic' fields (Ancient Field Group (15)) and riser heights are uneven because of incorporation of pre-existing lynchets. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 2438–9, 4434–8.)

Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments

(25–57) Round Barrows, p. 440.

(58) The Round Pound, enclosure, p. 502.

Ancient Field Groups (14, 15), p. 628.