Hinton St. Mary

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.

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'Hinton St. Mary', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 114-117. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp114-117 [accessed 13 April 2024]

In this section

23 HINTON ST. MARY (7816)

(O.S. 6 ins. ST 71 NE)

The parish covers 1,070 acres, nearly all of it on Corallian Beds. To the E. the land slopes gently down to Chiverick's Brook and to the W. it inclines a little more sharply down to the R. Stour, both streams being about 180 ft. above sea-level (Plate 2). The most important monument in the parish is the recently discovered Roman villa, with a fine quality mosaic pavement including a head with a Chi-Rho monogram. The Manor House incorporates a mediaeval hall, possibly of the 13th century, and there is also a large tithe barn.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Peter stands on the S. side of the village. The West Tower dates from the second half of the 15th century but the rest of the church, consisting of Chancel, Nave, North Vestry and South Porch, was rebuilt in 1846; it is of ashlar and squared rubble, with stone-slated roofs. Some features from the earlier building are incorporated in the new fabric.

Architectural Description—The 19th-century Chancel has a two-centred E. window of three lights with vertical tracery, and similar two-light windows in the N. and S. walls; there is also a square-headed S. doorway. The chancel arch is of mediaeval origin but rebuilt in 1846; it is approximately semicircular and has two orders, the inner hollow-chamfered, the outer chamfered; the voussoirs may be of 12th or 13th-century origin but they were probably recut in the 15th century. The capitals are modern but the responds are probably refaced 15th-century material; they comprise a central attached shaft flanked by hollowchamfers which in turn are bordered to E. and W. by ogee mouldings; the square plinths are modern. The N. and S. walls of the Nave are uniform, each having a centrally placed doorway with a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs, and two square-headed windows, each with three two-centred trefoil-headed lights below vertical tracery in casementmoulded surrounds with square labels; the two eastern windows retain some 15th-century stonework. The N. doorway opens into the Vestry; the S. doorway is sheltered by the Porch, which has a chamfered two-centred outer arch with a moulded label and return stops.

The West Tower (9 ft. square) is of two stages, with a chamfered plinth and an embattled parapet; the walls are of squared and coursed rubble with ashlar dressings; the stone is mostly Marnhull limestone but Greensand also occurs, especially near the base. The hollow-chamfered string-course between the stages is decorated at each corner with an angel bearing a blank shield. Above the angels each corner of the top stage has an angle pilaster, itself of two stages separated by a weathered offset. At the base of the parapet is a hollow-chamfered string-course with a gargoyle at each corner: a devil's mask swallowing a human body, a winged mask, a monkey, a human head; there is also a grotesque mask at the centre of the N. side. The parapet has a moulded coping and four crocketed pinnacles. The tower arch is segmental-pointed and of two chamfered orders which die into plain responds. In the upper part of the lower stage, on the N. side, is a small square-headed loop. The W. doorway has a two-centred head with a label, and two orders of ovolo mouldings which continue on the jambs to run-out stops. Over the W. doorway is a small two-centred two-light window, probably of 1846. In the upper stage each side of the tower has a 15th-century casement-moulded belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights with blind tracery in a two-centred head, and a hood-mould with carved head stops.

Fittings—Bells: two; treble 1842, tenor inscribed W P 1614, in old timber bell-cage. Communion Table: with arcaded supports, c. 1846. Font: of Purbeck marble, coarsely tooled; round bowl with tapering sides and lobed twelve-sided moulding underneath, stem cylindrical, base circular, coarsely moulded and much worn; bowl and base probably 13th century, bowl with later mediaeval recutting; stem modern. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In nave, on N. wall, (1) of Thomas Freke, 1642, black tablet with painted inscription in moulded stone surround with skull below, set between Corinthian columns on foliate brackets and surmounted by broken pediment with arms of Freke impaling Dodington; monument erected 1655 (Plate 33). In S. porch, on W. wall, (2) of John, 1769, William, 1792 and Anne Castleman, 1810, oval white marble tablet on shaped black background; (3) of Rachel Castleman, 1771, and others of same family, black painted stone tablet in rectangular moulded stone surround. Floor-slab: In nave, on S. side, of Samuell Rake, 1695, Purbeck marble slab with incised border of columns and arch. Plate: includes Elizabethan silver cup and cover-paten by the Gillingham silversmith, flagon of 1664 with maker's mark T L and arms of Freke impaling Dodington, and second paten with faint maker's mark TL. Pulpit: polygonal, of oak with mahogany veneer, each side having fielded and enriched panels in two heights below ledge supported on foliate brackets, 18th century; panelled pedestal later. Royal Arms: over chancel arch, of castiron, 19th century. Tables of Creed and Decalogue: incised on slate in traceried wooden surrounds, 19th century.


(2) The Manor House, immediately N.E. of the church, is a two-storied building of ashlar and squared rubble, with dormer-windowed attics under stoneslated roofs (Plate 53). The walls of a mediaeval hall are identifiable at the centre of the S.E. range but it has been chambered over, the roof has been renewed, the windows have been altered and it retains little of its original character. The remains of an opening with a chamfered two-centred head suggest that the hall may be of 13th-century origin. The rest of the house appears to be mainly of the 17th century, enlarged and altered in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, but the cross-wings to N.E. and S.W. of the hall may incorporate mediaeval elements.

The S.E. front has, as the central part, the S. wall of the original hall; it has a chamfered plinth and is now pierced on the ground floor by square-headed two-light and three-light transomed windows with hollow-chamfered surrounds; they are perhaps of the 17th century but restored and probably enlarged. Over them the inserted first-floor chambers have gabled semi-dormer windows of two large lights with square labels. To the S.W., the two-storied 17th-century porch has a modern outer doorway with a four-centred head; above is a three-light mullioned window with a label surmounted by a rectangular stone panel carved with an achievement-of-arms of Freke impaling Dodington (c. 1630–1642). To the east of the hall the S.E. front comprises the projecting gabled end wall of the N.E. wing, with a transomed three-light window on the ground floor and a modern three-light window in the gable. Beside the sill of the upper window is a date-stone inscribed 'E 1695'. S.W. of the porch is the gabled end wall of the S.W. wing; it is of two storeys with an attic; on the ground floor is a large three-light transomed window; the first and attic storeys have narrower three-light windows.

The S.W. elevation is mainly of the 17th century with a modern extension at the N.W. end. It is two-storied, with gabled dormer windows in the attics. The ground-floor rooms have low four-light windows with labels; the first floor has similar three-light windows and between two of them is a date-stone inscribed 'S.G.B. 1664'. A large two-light mullioned and transomed window lights the main staircase. The N.E. front has been rebuilt; it is of one storey with transomed three-light windows on the ground floor and modern dormer windows above.

Inside, in the passage which runs along the N.W. side of the former hall is a narrow opening, now a wall-niche, with a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs. The voussoirs of the head of a larger mediaeval opening in the same wall are visible from the first floor through a trap-door. A fireplace in the first-floor corridor which follows the inner face of the N.W. wall of the hall has a chamfered four-centred stone head and continuous jambs. On either side of the fireplace are shaped stone corbels, probably for the support of former roof trusses. At the S.W. end of the hall, on the ground floor, the doorway to the study is of the 16th century, with a four-centred ogeemoulded and hollow-chamfered head, with continuous jambs and carved stops. The dining-room, in the former hall, and the drawing-room to the N.E. are lined with reset 17th-century oak panelling; the fireplace of the intervening room has an 18th-century surround. The staircase has a 16th-century moulded plaster ceiling (Plate 71), recently brought from Fiddleford Mill, Sturminster Newton (4); it is decorated with curvilinear and straight ribbing interlaced to form geometric panels; these are enriched at the intersections with foliate bosses and at the angles with fleurs-de-lis and other ornaments. One lozenge includes the initials A W, probably for Ann White of Fiddleford (see p. 272). The drawing-room contains a modern copy of the same ceiling.

Hinton St. Mary, The Manor House

The Tithe Barn, 100 yds. S. of the house, is of rubble and ashlar with a modern tiled roof and is probably of the late 15th or early 16th century. It is now used as an assembly hall. On the N.W. side are two transeptal entrance bays; the S.E. side has several two-stage buttresses with weathered offsets; between them modern entrances probably take the place of original barn doorways. Inside, the roof has been restored but some old timbers are preserved. The collar-braced trusses are supported on vertical wall-posts which rest on stone corbels; rough curved wind-braces occur between the purlins. A reset stone fireplace incorporates, as an overmantel, a 15th-century carved panel of Ham Hill stone which is said to have been originally the front of an altar in Cerne Abbey; it has three square panels of sub-cusped quatrefoils. At the centre of each panel is a foliate boss; two have sacred monograms and the third is carved with the letters 'I V' mitred, for John Vane, abbot 1458–1470.

Stables, 50 yds. S. of the church, are of coursed and squared rubble with heavy chamfered eaves cornices and a modern tiled roof; they are probably of the late 16th century. On the E. side are five original two-stage buttresses with weathered offsets; between some of these are reset and restored square-headed three-light windows with hollow-chamfered mullions and jambs, and square labels; in the wall above are several chamfered rectangular loops. The W. side has nine similar buttresses and a number of similar loops.

(3) Burt's Farm (78691621), 130 yds. N. of the church, is a two-storied 17th-century farmhouse, built partly of ashlar and partly of coursed rubble, with a thatched roof. The plan is L-shaped with the re-entrant angle to the E. and the main doorway in this corner. Adjacent, on the ground floor, the N.E. front of the S.E. wing has a stone window of four square-headed lights with a moulded label; at attic level in the gable of the N.E. wing is a single stone light, now blocked; all other openings have later wooden surrounds. An open fireplace at the S.E. end of the S.E. wing has a chamfered oak bressummer, and the ceiling beam in the S.E. room has cyma mouldings and shaped stops. In the upper flight of the stairs the handrails are supported on baluster-profiled slats.

(4) Dalton's Farm (78691628), 190 yds. N. of the church, is of the 18th century. It is of two storeys with attics and its walls are mainly of coursed rubble, but the E. front is of ashlar and the chimneystacks are of brick; the roof is covered with Welsh slates. The E. front is symmetrical and of five bays. The central doorway has a moulded stone architrave with a keystone and a segmental broken pediment on console brackets; the sashed windows, uniform in each storey, have unmoulded architraves with plain keystones and moulded window-sills. A plat-band marks the first floor, and the eaves have a coved stone cornice. Inside, the staircase balustrade is of the Tuscan-column pattern but each newel-post is composed of three vase-shaped balusters conjoined. The N.W. ground-floor room has fielded panelling in two heights, with bolection mouldings.

(5) Nicholson's Farm (78531617), 160 yds. N.W. of the church, is of two storeys, with walls of coursed rubble and a thatched roof. A date-stone in the N.E. front is inscribed C.W.M. 1728 but interior fittings show that the house is of the 16th century. Apart from a modern extension at the S.E. end, the house has a simple rectangular plan consisting of two ground-floor rooms separated by a central through-passage. An open fireplace between the S. room and the through-passage has a chamfered and cambered oak bressummer supported on inclined timber jambs with chamfered edges and shaped base stops. A carved wooden console bracket attached to the bressummer supports a deeply chamfered ceiling beam. Within the fireplace, on the N.E. side, is a small recess with a two-centred head; to the S.W. of the fireplace is a 17th-century plank-and-muntin partition.

(6) House (78581620), 160 yds. N.W. of (1), is of two storeys, with walls of squared rubble and ashlar, and a thatched roof; the rear wall has been rebuilt in brick. The house is of 17th-century origin but it has been much altered and is now derelict. The E. front has, on the ground floor, one square-headed four-light window with hollow-chamfered stone mullions and a weathered and hollow-chamfered label; on the first floor is a similar window of three lights. Two other bays to the N. appear to have been rebuilt in the 18th century and two blocked doorways indicate that the range was at one time divided into three tenements.

(7) House (78721633), of two storeys with ashlar walls and a thatched roof, dates from the end of the 17th century. The S. front is of three bays; to the W. of the central doorway is a five-light stone window and to the E. is a similar window of two lights. On the first floor the W. bay contains a stone-mullioned four-light window, and similar two-light windows occur above the doorway and to the E. Another mullioned window occurs on the N. front.

(8) Castleman's Farm (78531632) is of two storeys with coursed rubble walls and squared rubble dressings; the walls have been largely rebuilt in recent years. A date-stone inscribed C.I.E. 1685 has been reset in the masonry. The roof is thatched.

(9) Cottage (78511622) is of one storey with an attic; the lower walls are of coursed rubble but the dormer-windowed attic is of timber-framing and brick; the roof is thatched. It was probably built early in the 18th century.

(10) House (78651620), 130 yds. N. of (1), was almost entirely rebuilt in the 19th century but it retains the chamfered plinth of an earlier building. Reset in the S.E. front is a date-stone inscribed T.F. 1675.

Monuments (11–18)

The following are 18th-century cottages of two storeys with rubble walls and thatched roofs. The plans consist of simple ranges divided by cross partitions into two or three rooms on each floor, with fireplaces in the end walls and with service rooms in lean-to annexes at the back. Windows are plain wooden casements.

(11) Cottage (78741633) has a symmetrical N.W. front of three bays.

(12) Cottage (78551634) was originally of one storey with attics but now has an upper storey. One room has a stop-chamfered beam.

(13) Cottages (78601611), two adjacent, 70 yds. N.W. of the church.

(14) Cottages (78551625), two adjacent.

(15) Cottage (78381618) was originally of one storey but now has a semi-dormered attic.

(16) Cottage (78431606), 270 yds. W. of (1).

(17) Cottage (78491607), 180 yds. W. of (1).

(18) Cottage (78731625), 170 yds. N. of (1), has two chamfered beams with run-out stops.

Early 19th-century buildings include the Inn, 100 yds. N.W. of the church, with coursed rubble walls, a stone-slate roof and wooden casement windows; Cut Mill (77631655), partly of coursed rubble and partly of brick, with a slated roof; also eight cottages, one immediately W. of the church, and others dispersed in the W. part of the village.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(19) Cultivation Remains. There were formerly three open fields in the parish, but the small acreages recorded in the 16th century indicate that a great deal of enclosure had already taken place (H. L. Gray: English Field Systems, 1915, Appx. II, 442; and Dorset Procs., Vol. LXXIII, 1951, 117). Ridge-and-furrow can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974: 2161–4 and 2018, 3213–7, 4190–4) in a number of places in the parish (e.g. 780169 and 791158–793163); it all appears to have lain within the existing fields.

Roman and Prehistoric

(20) Roman Villa (78451602), on the edge of the present village and W. of the road to Marnhull, lies at 260 ft. above O.D. on a terrace of Corallian limestone which slopes gently W. to the R. Stour, ½ m. away. Mosaic pavements were found in 1963 and 1964. The date of the villa is uncertain, but the mosaics are definitely of the 4th century; most of the coins and pottery found are also of the 4th century.

The principal pavement (Plate 146), excavated by H. S. L. Dewar and R. N. R. Peers and now relaid in the British Museum, forms a rectangle 28⅓ ft. E. to W., by 19½ ft.; it was divided by wall footings into an E. portion 17½ ft. long and a W. portion 10½ ft. long, with an opening 10½ ft. wide and 2¾ ft. deep between them. The design of the larger portion is a square, flanked on N. and S. by a strip of double plait pattern; it contains a central roundel surrounded by four semicircular panels, each with its chord along a side of the square, and four quarter-round panels in the angles of the square. All panels are edged by guilloche borders; the semicircles have in addition fret borders and the roundel has three concentric circular borders of wave, single plait and fret patterns. Between the main panels are four pairs of boat-shaped panels, each containing a floral scroll.

In the central roundel is the bust of a yellow-haired, cleanshaven man with dark eyes and a slightly cleft chin (Plate 147). He is heavily draped in a pinkish under-tunic and a white outer garment with a thick purple fold on the left shoulder; the ChiRho monogram in yellow appears behind his head and a pomegranate lies on either side. The roundel is meant to be viewed from the E. and on this side the semicircle contains a spreading blue-green tree. In each of the other semicircles a dog with a collar chases or confronts a stag or doe in a setting of trees. Each quarter-circle contains a male bust facing outwards. Each bust has red hair with three or four upstanding wind-blown locks on the crown of the head, and each wears a red cloak fastened by a round brooch on the right shoulder, leaving the right arm exposed. The two E. busts have rosette-like flowers on either side of the head and the other two have pomegranates in the same position. The bust in the N.W. quadrant is smaller than the others and inferior in quality.

The panel linking the two portions of the pavement has a running pelta pattern in red on white. The W. portion is rectangular with a central square flanked by two rectangles, all with guilloche borders (Plate 145). In the square, a roundel, meant to be viewed from the W., with a wide border of floral scroll, contains the scene of Bellerophon mounted on Pegasus spearing the Chimaera, both facing to the S. The upper part of the figure has been obliterated by damage extending E. and roughly patched with roofing slabs. Bellerophon wears a red cloak and his spear has a blue-grey point. Pegasus has a flowing mane and a feathery tail; there is no sign of wings, but they may have been in the damaged area. The mane of the Chimaera is patterned in alternate lozenges of red and yellow. In each corner of the square is a two-handled chalice flanked by tendrils. In the N. rectangular side panel a collared hound chases a stag among trees and in the S. panel a similar hound pursues a stag and a doe.

The double room containing these pavements resembles a triclinium. Excavations by K. S. Painter in 1964–5 provided evidence of the way the mosaics were laid, and suggested that other rooms lay to the W. in a range at least 150 ft. long and 32 ft. wide, but none to the S. To the W. was a room containing a damaged mosaic with guilloche patterns and a border of widely-spaced triangles. Finds of roof and flue tiles, roofing slabs, painted wall plaster, a complete iron window grille 21½ ins. by 24 ins., coarse pottery and decorated bone fragments, probably from a casket, show that this was a substantial building. There is also a fragment of a curved stone table carved with rosettes, as at Rockbourne (J.R.S., LII (1962), p. 185 and Pl. XXIV).

The bust with the Chi-Rho has been tentatively interpreted by J. M. C. Toynbee as a representation of Christ, and the four corner figures as Evangelists in the guise of wind-gods. The tree could be a tree of life, the Bellerophon and Chimaera could represent the triumph of good over evil, and the hunting scenes could represent the life of paradise, or Christians threatened by evil. The beardless figure with the Chi-Rho behind the head is best paralleled in a mosaic at San Lorenzo, Milan. Parallels in detail between these mosaics and those at Frampton (Dorset I, 150), Fifehead Neville (above p. 93) and Hemsworth (Dorset V) suggest that a single school of craftsmen was responsible. (Dorset Procs., LXXXV (1963), 116–21; LXXXVI (1964), 150–4; J.R.S., LIV (1964), 7–14; S. & D. N. & Q., XXVIII (1964), 161–4.)