Winterborne St. Martin

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 St. Martin', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east, (London, 1970) pp. 391-394. British History Online [accessed 23 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 68 NW, bSY 68 NE, cSY 69 SW, dSY 69 SE)

Winterborne St. Martin is a large rectangular parish covering over 3,500 acres on both sides of the South Winterborne river 2½ miles S.W. of Dorchester. It lies entirely upon Chalk, which is overlaid by extensive areas of gravels and sands in its higher parts, especially in the S. on Bronkham Hill. From the S. boundary, which runs along the barrow-studded crest of the S. Dorset Ridgeway over 500 ft. above O.D., there is a general slope down to the river at just under 300 ft., cut into by deep dry valleys. N. of the river the land rises again to a maximum of about 500 ft., with much less deeply cut valleys.

There appear originally to have been three riverside settlements in the parish, Martinstown in the centre, Ashton in the E. and Rew (not recorded as such until 1283, but probably much older) in the W. All three are associated with long rectangular blocks of land on both sides of the river, their boundaries still preserved in modern hedgelines.

There is little of architectural note in the parish, but it contains not only 118 round barrows of almost every type but also Maiden Castle. The latter, if not the largest, is perhaps the most impressive prehistoric earthwork in Britain. The complex structure and history of the monument, from the Neolithic to the Late Roman period, was largely elucidated in extensive excavations in 1934–7.


a(1) The Parish Church of St. Martin stands in the centre of the village. The walls are of Portland rubble with similar dressings; the roofs are slate-covered. The font is evidence for a church on this site in the 12th century and the sub-bases of the piers to the north arcade are of the early 13th century, but the whole church has been rebuilt and the latter are reused. The Chancel and West Tower are of the 15th century; the N. wall of the Nave, with its arcade, and the North Aisle were rebuilt in the late 16th century. The S. wall of the nave was rebuilt in the 19th century and the Porch is also of this date. The church was restored between 1896 and 1907.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (20½ ft. by 15¾ ft.) has two-stage diagonal buttresses at the N.E. and S.E. corners and a three-stage buttress in the centre of the S. wall; a corresponding buttress in the N. wall has been destroyed. The 15th-century E. window is of three cinque-foiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label. The N. and S. walls each have two 15th-century windows similar to the E. window but of two lights only; the S. doorway has hollow-chamfered jambs and a two-centred head. The chancel arch is modern.

The Nave (48 ft. by 19¾ ft.) has a 16th-century N. arcade of three bays with octagonal piers and semi-octagonal responds with moulded caps and bases standing on early 13th-century sub-bases with spur stops; the caps support roughly carved abaci from which spring semicircular arches of one stop-chamfered order. The S. wall, rebuilt in the 19th century, is rendered externally and has three two-stage brick buttresses and three three-light windows in square heads with labels. The S. doorway has a segmental-pointed head. The North Aisle (10 ft. wide) has a mid 17th-century E. window of three square-headed lights. In the N. wall are three windows, the easternmost similar to the E. window; the partly restored 15th-century middle window is of three trefoiled lights in a segmental-pointed head; the westernmost window is of three trefoiled lights with a modern head.

Winterborne St. Martin, Parish Church of St. Martin

The West Tower (10 ft. by 10½ ft.) is of the 15th century and of three stages, with diagonal buttresses, an embattled parapet, pinnacles and gargoyles. A three-sided stair turret was built against the N. side later in the 15th century. The two-centred tower arch is of three moulded orders, the inner and outer springing from jamb shafts with moulded caps and bases. The W. window is of three trefoiled lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label. The second stage has small rectangular windows in the E. and W. walls. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two trefoiled lights with tracery in a two-centred head with a label, but that in the N. wall is covered by the stair turret.

The South Porch has an outer archway with moulded jambs and a two-centred head.

The nave has a trussed-rafter Roof of the 15th century with curved braces giving the form of a plaster barrel-vault, now removed, with moulded ribs and bosses carved with various devices and faces, the letters P, R, etc., and one with the date and initials 1626 I.T., P.D., probably recording a repair. The 16th-century lean-to roof of the N. aisle has moulded intersecting main beams and a restored wall plate.

Fittings—Bells: modern (tenor by William Knight, 1746, recast). Chair: in chancel, largely modern but incorporating 17th-century panel carved with scroll-work. Coffin Stools: in N. aisle, two, with turned legs, 18th-century. Communion Rails: in N. aisle, with turned balusters and moulded rails, c. 1700. Communion Table: in N. aisle, with turned legs and enriched top rails, 17th-century. Door: in second stage of tower, nail-studded with hollow-chamfered battens, perhaps 16th-century. Font: square Purbeck marble bowl with five round-headed panels in each face, central and four subsidiary shafts and moulded base, late 12th-century; cover of oak, flat with pinnacles at angles and cresting along sides, late 15th-century. Inscriptions and Scratchings: on tower arch, on N. respond, GG below intersecting W's, others less elaborate on S. respond, early 16th-century.

Monuments: In nave—on N. wall, (1) to William Hawkins, 1840, and Elizabeth his wife, 1816, white marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet on grey marble backing, signed Raggett, Weymouth; on S. wall, (2) to Thomas Masterman, 1763, and Mary (Rawlins) his wife, 1757, white marble tablet surmounted by winged head, curved pediment and urn on veined marble backing; (3) to Robert Richards, 1837, white marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet on black marble backing, signed Raggett, Weymouth; (4) to Mary Guppy, 1804, and her sister Martha, 1823, white marble lozenge-shaped tablet on grey marble backing. In churchyard—S. of nave, (5) to Henry Stevens, 1708/9, table-tomb; (6) to Amie, wife of Morgan Balston, 1695, table-tomb; (7) to Thomas Newman, 1703, small headstone; (8) to John Golsey, 1633, table-tomb erected by his daughter Anne; (9) to Robert Stevens, 1691, headstone; loose against S. wall of nave, (10) to Richard Gaffe, 1683, headstone; (11) to John Hellier, 1703, headstone; (12) to Jane Stevens, 1693, head-stone; W. of porch, headstones reset against nave wall, (13) to Elizabeth, wife of George Pashen, late 17th century, (14) to Maria Asker, 1698, (15) to Dorothy, daughter of John and Alice Way, 1712, (16) to Elizabeth, wife of Morgan Batson, 1691, and Morgan their son; against E. wall of churchyard, reset headstones, (17) to Elizabeth Stone, 1709, (18) to John Tizzard, 1709.

Painting: in N. aisle on N. wall, painted fielded wooden panel of David playing the harp, c. 1700. Panelling: in nave, dado made of 18th-century panelling from former box pews. Piscina: in chancel, recess with trefoiled ogee head and broken octagonal drain, second recess above head, 14th-century. Plate: includes cup of 1573 and paten of 1697. Pulpit (Plate 28): of oak, five-sided with moulded cornice and panelled base, each face three panels high, top panel with guilloche ornament and middle panel with enriched arcading, early 17th-century. Royal Arms: in N. aisle, on N. wall, of George II, painted wooden panel. Table: in N. aisle, with turned legs, 18th-century. Miscellanea: in chancel, in E. wall N. and S. of Communion Table, two stone pedestals with caps and bases on modern sub-bases, 15th-century reused.


a(2) School (70 yds. W.), with rubble walls and slated roof, has a stone tablet inscribed 'Church School Room built by subscription 1841'. The original building comprises a single room with two windows in the S. wall each of four round-headed lights; the doors and other windows are later and there are additions to N. and W.

Monuments (3–19)

The following monuments unless otherwise described are of two storeys with rubble walls and thatched roofs and are of the 17th century.

a(3) Stone Cottage (60 yds. W.) was built in the late 16th century, probably on a two-room plan and with windows with hollow-chamfered stone mullions. In the mid 17th century the W. room was enlarged, with a new window with ovolo-moulded mullion, and a wing was added at the back; the house, originally of one storey and attic, was heightened to two storeys in 1698; this date with initials M.B. is cut in a stone at the S.E. quoin. An original muntin and plank partition, at the side of the entrance passage, remains.

a(4) Cottage (20 yds. W.) has been completely remodelled and has a low-pitched 19th-century slate-covered roof; it retains original windows in the N. wall, now blocked.

a(5) House, Rylstone (60 yds. S.E.), has the walls rendered in stucco and a slated roof with wide eaves and is of the second quarter of the 19th century. The entrance porch is carried by columns with fluted capitals, and there are moulded labels over the ground-floor windows.

a(6) House (150 yds. E.S.E.) is of the early 19th century. A back wing with dressings of Broadmayne brick and slated roof is dated 1837; it incorporates some earlier walling in the lower parts.

a(7) Old Brewery House (180 yds. E.S.E.), of three storeys with a slated roof, was built c. 1840; the top floor only retains the original horizontal sliding-sash windows; the front entrance has an iron porch in the Gothic style.

b(8) Park House (420 yds. E.S.E.), a 'double pile' of two storeys with attics, has the front faced in red brick carried up to a parapet and the other walls rendered; the roof is covered with slates. It was built in the early 19th century. The front entrance is placed off centre and has a porch of cast-iron trelliswork.

b(9) Cottage, Spring Gardens (550 yds. E.S.E.), of the 18th century, was formerly two dwellings.

a(10) Manor House (380 yds. S.E.) is of the late 19th century but has reset in the S. wall a stone dated 1654. Stable, E. of house, is probably of the 18th century.

a(11) Cottage, Linden Lea (160 yds. S.E.), of the 18th century, was formerly two dwellings.

a(12) House (130 yds. S.S.E.) of two storeys and semibasement, has walls rendered in stucco and slated roof; it is of the early 19th century. The front elevation has the central entrance and flanking windows set in three-centred recesses.

a(13) Barn (75 yds. S.) has a 19th-century roof covered with pantiles. The original 17th-century roof was carried on jointed-cruck trusses of which only the lower parts of one truss remain.

a(14) Cottage (70 yds. S.S.W.), originally of one storey with attic, has been heightened and incorporated into a pair of cottages of two storeys.

a(15) Cottages (240 yds. W.S.W.), a pair, have been much altered.

a(16) Cottages (380 yds. W.), a pair, have walls of coursed rubble and flint; the roof has been heightened and the interior remodelled. The front elevation retains two small windows with original moulded wood frames.

a(17) Barn (410 yds. W.), formerly a cottage, has walls partly of coursed rubble alternating with flint. Reset in the S. wall is a fragment of stone tracery, probably 14th-century.

a(18) Rew Manor, house (638894), with walls rendered in stucco and low-pitched slated roof, is of the early 19th century. The S. front has a verandah with iron treillage standards and transoms.

b(19) Clandon (660890) is an isolated farmstead. The buildings were largely reconstructed in the late 19th century but one of the barns retains some older flint and rubble walling of uncertain date.

Earthworks, Etc.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

a(20) Settlement Remains at Rew (6393894564228915). Immediately S.E. of Rew Manor (18), banked and scarped enclosures covering 5 acres stretch S.E. for almost ¼ mile along the N. bank of the South Winterborne. This long narrow stretch of closes (cf. Winterbourne Steepleton 11) plausibly explains the name Rew ('row'), mentioned in the 13th century (Fägersten, 187; Hutchins II, 577). By 1768 boundaries were much as at present and the area was part of Townfield Farm (I. Taylor, Estate Map of Townfield Farm, photostat in D.C.R.O.).

The closes mostly occupy a strip of meadow 180 ft. wide which rises rapidly from the narrow valley bottom to a shoulder on the 300 ft. contour some 30 ft. above the stream. Nearest the Manor, however, they spread further into the mouth of a combe. The valley bottom S. of the road is used as water meadows and there are remains of strip fields (21) on the hill S. of this. At the W. end a block of large closes, some flat, perhaps part of a manor-house complex, is separated from the other remains by a broad, funnel-mouthed and apparently contemporary hollow-way, leading N. to the higher ground, formerly downland. The closes to the E., 85 ft. to 170 ft. wide, are generally bounded by substantial banks which, though still prominent, have been partly destroyed at the S. end. This destruction, in which some banks may have completely gone, may account for the complete lack of any sign of houses or house platforms. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1934: 3093.)

a(21) Strip Lynchets (639891), very disturbed, cover about 16 acres on the crest and N.-facing slopes of a chalk hill immediately S. of the settlement remains at Rew (20). The best preserved strips run up and down a slope of about 7° before being cut by modern ploughing. Their sides are bounded by low scarps and at the N. end they run out just above the steeper drop to the valley. Surviving treads vary in width from 9 yds. to 37 yds. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1934: 3093.)

a,b(22) Strip Lynchets, two very disturbed groups, lie to S.W. and N. of East Hill: at 649881 the W. ends only of a block set up-and-down the valley side on a slope of about 13° partly covered by narrow rig; at 650885 ploughed-down contour strip lynchets (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1934: 3091).

Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments

(23) Maiden Castle Long Mound, p. 432

(24–141) Round Barrows, p. 466

(142) Maiden Castle, causewayed camp, hill-fort and Roman temple, p. 493

(143–4) Enclosures, p. 507

(145) Linear Dyke, p. 519

(146) Roman Burials, p. 620

Ancient Field Group (6), p. 625