Winterborne Herringston

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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'Winterborne Herringston', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, (London, 1970), pp. 388-390. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

. "Winterborne Herringston", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, (London, 1970) 388-390. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

. "Winterborne Herringston", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, (London, 1970). 388-390. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. SY 68 NE)

The parish of Winterborne Herringston covers less than 600 acres, stretching from the S. boundary of Dorchester across the South Winterborne and on to the N. slopes of the S. Dorset Ridgeway. It lies on Chalk.

Winterborne Herringston, earlier known as Winterborne Beauchamp (Hutchins II, 519), was one of the small riverside settlements listed as Winterbornes in 1086 (Domesday Book). Until the 17th century it was included in the parish of Winterborne Farringdon, and thereafter until the late 19th century in Winterborne Came. There is no village.

Herringston, a house containing notable plasterwork and panelling, is the principal monument.


(1) Herringston (689881), of two storeys and attics (Plate 195), has stone walls rendered in cement and roofs covered with slates. Walterus Heryng de Winterborne was granted a licence to crenellate his manor house in 1336 (Cal. Pat. Rolls 1334–1338, 319) and the main structure of the present house is probably of this date though much altered; there are now no features visible that can be ascribed to a date earlier than the 16th century. The house was built round a courtyard of which the N. range and the N. parts of the E. and W. ranges were taken down at the beginning of the 19th century. A lease of 1441, quoted in a MS of 1820 (at Herringston), refers to a Gatehouse, and the MS. also states that the N. range contained a large semicircular gateway over which was the date 1582. In 1513 the manor was acquired by John Williams, and Coker records that his grandson, Sir John Williams, who succeeded to the estate in 1569, 'by his building and other ornaments much beautified' the house; it is probable that he remodelled or partly rebuilt the house of Walter Heryng, increasing the width of the S. range, and the plan has been so hatched, though the extent to which the walls of Walter Heryng's house survive is conjectural. Sir John formed the Great Chamber (Plate 191) on the first floor, partly out of the original hall and partly out of a new extension S. of the original building; the plasterwork of the Chamber can be dated to 1616–1625 by the initials C.P. which accompany the Prince of Wales's feathers, but Sir John died in 1617 and an unfinished pilaster on the S. wall suggests that his death put an abrupt end to the embellishment of the Chamber. (Coker, Survey of Dorsetshire (1732), 73; Hutchins II, 527; Country Life, XXXIV (1913), 674–8. For Sir John's monument see Dorchester (3).)

At the beginning of the 19th century further remodelling was carried out to the designs of Thomas Leverton (letters at Herringston). The buildings round the N. part of the courtyard, including a chapel, were pulled down and the space between the curtailed E. and W. ranges was filled in with the present entrance hall, dining room and library. The hall and the W. range were heightened and covered with a new lower-pitched roof without attics. Later in the 19th century a porch was added to the N. front; in 1899 a substantial new wing was added on the E. side of the house, and a conservatory and outbuildings have been added to the W.

The decorated plaster ceiling and the carved panelling in the Great Chamber are remarkable.

Architectural Description—The North Front (Plate 195) has the centre part slightly recessed between the gabled ends of the remains of the original E. and W. ranges. This centre part, added by Leverton, is of three storeys and has an embattled parapet, and rectangular windows with labels; a central porch with two-centred outer archway has been added later; the central windows above the porch are small and those to each side have a wide central light flanked by narrow lights; the glazing bars form intersecting two-centred arches. The parapet from the centre block was formerly continued across the flanking bays to E. and W. but these are now gabled and have three-light windows, also with arched glazing bars, set in shallow recesses with two-centred heads; there are quatre-foiled panels between the upper and lower windows.

The South Front (Plate 195) has to the E. a projecting wing of 1899 next to which is the gabled end of the original E. range; the upper windows are of the 16th century with elliptical-headed lights, moulded jambs and heads, and labels. The projection containing the Great Chamber has 19th-century buttresses between which are two ground floor-windows each of two elliptical-headed lights with moulded jambs and mullions and a third window with plain chamfered jambs. The window above, to the Great Chamber, has moulded jambs and mullions and comprises twelve lights with four-centred heads divided into four groups of three by a transom and a heavy central mullion; there are similar windows of four lights in the E. and W. returns. Further W., the roof over the hall is low-pitched and meets the roof of the W. range with a hip, a former gable end to the W. range having been removed when the eaves level was raised. The hall windows each have two ranges of four elliptical-headed lights divided by a transom, under a label common to both windows; the jambs and mullions are moulded and uniform with those below the Great Chamber. W. of the hall, the windows to the drawing room and the bedroom above are of the early 18th century and have plain stone architraves.

The E. side, partly masked by additions, has a modern doorway and casement windows with stuccoed jambs and heads. On the W. side the windows have hung sashes.

Inside, the Hall, rising through two storeys, has an archway to the N.W. with round-arched head with keystone, imposts and jambs, all moulded, finished with chamfered plinths. Above the 19th-century E. doorway to the hall is a similar arched opening to the first-floor landing with a stone balustrade within the archway. The lower parts of the walls are lined with modern panelling incorporating some reused pieces of earlier work which include carved and linenfold panels of the 16th century, panels carved with conventional foliage of the 17th century and panels crudely carved with biblical scenes signed Wiliem Witteng and with the figures 26 possibly for 1626. The windows have an internal label. The flat ceiling is of the early 19th century and replaces a plaster barrel ceiling of which the outline remains on the W. wall in the roof space. Adjacent to the W. doorway to the hall a narrower doorway to the passage to the W. is built with similar moulded stone-work reset to form a pointed arch. The Drawing Room, to the W., is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of the early 18th century. The Large Dining Room, to the N.W., has an early 19th-century surround to the fireplace decorated with enriched mouldings and drapery flowing from a female head. There is a panelled dado and, low down in the S.W. corner, a hatch for passing out chamber pots. The Staircase has stone steps and is also of the 19th century.


On the first floor, the Great Chamber (Plate 191) has carved panelling at the S. end, an elaborate fireplace surround and a decorated plaster barrel-vaulted ceiling, all of the early 17th century. The panelling (Plate 192) includes a dado under the windows of large and small arched panels, the arches and side pilasters all richly carved with vine-scroll and foliage ornament; the smaller panels, of which those flanking the S. window recess are treated as shell-headed niches, contain figures in high relief, each standing on a moulded corbel; they include Hope, Sisera, Samson, Judith with the head of Holophernes, Ruth, and Hercules; the larger panels, with two arches forming the head of each, contain animals within strapwork borders, including a leopard and cubs, hound, bull and mastiff, bear (?) and mastiff, and boar. Above the dado, between the windows and lining the window splays, are three heights of panels, smaller in scale than those in the dado but all richly carved; in the lower range the panels have small medallions within richly carved decoration of scroll-work, fruit and foliage all within enriched framing; within the medallions are figure subjects including Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Samson, St. Matthew, St. John, King David, the Israelite spies, and St. Luke. The second range contains panels having enriched framing enclosing arches springing from pilasters carved with arabesques and with putti in the spandrels; under each arch is a figure, among them Geometry, Athena, St. John, Geography, Plenty, and, without enclosing arch, Adam and Eve after the Fall. The panel in the first range below Adam and Eve is similarly without a medallion and contains two figures, a man and a woman arm in arm. The third range contains smaller panels carved with cherubs' heads and scroll-work in enriched frames. The dado is divided up by enriched pilasters carrying an entablature with carved frieze. Above, the S. window is flanked by carved pilasters, the carving on one incomplete, and above the panelling is an enriched cornice. The fireplace has a moulded square head enriched with strapwork; it is flanked by two groups of three columns of debased Roman Doric type standing on a pedestal and with enriched capitals carrying a small frieze and a heavy projecting cornice with palmette and nail-head ornament. The overmantel has a central panel carved with strapwork between swags of fruit and, at the top, a moulded cornice. On the ends of the main cornice are two carved three-quarter female figures, one holding a cornucopia and one a book; above the overmantel is a smaller reclining figure of Hope holding an anchor.

The two-centred barrel-vaulted ceiling rises from a moulded cornice with frieze enriched with plain shields. The enclosed segments of the end walls are decorated: at the N. end is a cartouche of arms of Williams with trees and animals including a camel, a rhinoceros and an elephant; at the S. end, over the window, are, confronted, a lion and an antelope (?) with a chained crown round its neck, with a baluster between them, rose tree and thistle, hound baiting a bear and hound baiting a bull. The main ceiling is divided into rectangular panels by moulded bands enriched with running ornament of foliage, flowers and fruit; the main panels (Plate 194) contain legendary and heraldic beasts, an angel, Royal Arms, Prince of Wales's feathers with initials C.P., pelican, etc.; the subsidiary panels are filled with scrolled foliage, fruit and flowers. Along the line of the apex of the ceiling are five pendants: the second and fourth have small rounded finials decorated with conventional foliage; the other three are larger and open, built up on metal bands; the first and fifth have eight bands, alternately curved and angular, surrounding a central stem. The central pendant (Plate 193) has four curved bands enclosing an apple tree in full fruit with a boy climbing up the trunk; between the bands are curved pedestals on which are three-quarter figures of boys eating apples, and four more boys, also eating apples, sit astride the pedestals with their feet dangling.

The roof above the Great Chamber retains the original arch-braced collar-beam roof trusses but the original purlins and ridge piece have been replaced. The E. range has simple collar-beam trusses and the attics are ceiled under the collars. The other roofs are all of the early 19th century.

(2) Herringston Dairy House (694885), of two storeys, has walls of rubble and brick, partly rendered, and a thatched roof. It is of the first half of the 19th century; some of the windows retain the original cast-iron casements.

Earthworks, Etc.

(3–6) Round Barrows, p. 465