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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, 'Pulham', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 231-234. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp231-234 [accessed 18 May 2024].

. "Pulham", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) 231-234. British History Online, accessed May 18, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp231-234.

. "Pulham", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970). 231-234. British History Online. Web. 18 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp231-234.

In this section

39 PULHAM (7108)

(O.S. 6 ins. ST 70 NW, ST 60 NE, ST 71 SW)

The parish covers 2,416 acres, sloping gently up from 230 ft. above sea-level in the N.E. to nearly 400 ft. in the S.W. It is drained by the R. Lydden and a tributary of the Caundle Brook. Most of the land is on Oxford Clay with patches of Plateau Gravel, but the S. and S.W. parts are on Corallian Beds. Two large settlements, East Pulham and West Pulham, occupying the two largest patches of gravel, were already in existence at the time of the Domesday survey. Farms grew up beyond the open fields during the later middle ages; Grange Farm, 'Grangiam Abbatis de Byneden', is recorded in 1237 and others, such as Cannings Court and Pellwell Farm, probably came into existence at about the same time. (fn. 1)


(1) The Parish Church of St. Thomas À Becket stands in the E. part of West Pulham and near the centre of the parish. It has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings and it is roofed with lead and with modern tiles. The font and a fragment of sculpture reused as the head of the tower vice doorway bear witness to a church of the 12th century, but the present building is considerably later. The Chancel is of the first half of the 15th century and the E. bay of the nave is contemporary with it. The easternmost arches of the N. and S. nave arcades probably represent the entrances to former North and South Chapels; the E. wall of the S. aisle appears to be of the 15th century and probably survives from the former S. chapel. The West Tower is of the second half of the 15th century. The three western bays of the Nave and the South Porch are of the early 16th century; presumably the North and South Aisles are also of 16th-century origin but they were largely rebuilt in the 19th century; at the same time a new E. window was inserted in the chancel, the chancel arch was rebuilt and the North Vestry was added.

The church is of interest for the surviving traces of the 15th-century plan, which appears to have been cruciform. Some notable 16th-century gargoyles are reset in the 19th-century parapets. The Renaissance corbels at the W. end of the nave arcades are interesting.

Pulham, the Parish Church of St. Thomas à Becket

Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 14½ ft.) has a 19th-century E. window of three gradated lights with roundel tracery in a two-centred head. Heavy diagonal buttresses at the N.E. and S.E. corners appear also to be of the 19th century. The N. wall is of the 15th century and has a hollow-chamfered plinth with a small roll-moulding above; the W. part of the wall is enclosed in the N. Vestry and has a square-set buttress to the W. The S. wall retains traces of a blocked doorway and at the W. end has a square-set buttress similar to the diagonal eastern buttresses. The chancel arch is of the 19th century; on each side are square-headed squints.

The Nave (42 ft. by 18 ft.) has a N. arcade of four bays; the E. bay is of the 15th century and the other three are of the 16th century. The E. bay has a two-centred arch of two wavemoulded orders separated by deep hollow-chamfers. At the E. springing the outer mouldings die into the wall and the inner order springs from a carved female head-corbel; to the W. the outer moulding on the S. side of the arch ends at a carved stop while that on the N. dies into the side of a shaped corbel; again the inner order springs from a female head-corbel. The W. respond is roughly chamfered and the S. chamfer ends at a carved base-stop. The part of the nave wall that is carried by the arch is thicker than to the W. and the extra thickness rests on a shaped corbel projecting from the N. side of the W. respond. The other three bays of the N. arcade have two-centred arches composed of ogee mouldings flanking hollow-chamfers. In the piers the ogee mouldings spring from three-quarter shafts with leaf carving on the capitals, and polygonal bases; the hollow-chamfers are continuous. To the E. a half-pier with similar details backs against the W. respond of the E. bay. To the W. the westernmost arch springs from a carved stone corbel with Renaissance details; it is shaped to receive the three orders and it has a roll-moulded abacus above vertical oak-leaf enrichment; this surmounts a band of gadroon ornament and mouldings. On the underside of the corbel two cherubs support a shield carved in relief with three fleurs-de-lis; the field is red within a blue border and an indistinct feature at the top of the shield may represent a label. The S. arcade of the nave is approximately the same as that to the N. The wall above the 15th-century E. bay is thinner than in the N. arcade and the hollow-chamfers between the wavemoulded orders are accordingly omitted; the wave mouldings spring from head-corbels representing, on the E., a woman and on the W. a man with a large forked beard. At the W. end of the arcade the 16th-century W. arch springs from a Renaissance corbel, as before, but with a shield on which are carved emblems of the Passion (Plate 17); the field is blue.

The North Aisle (7½ ft. wide) appears to be entirely of the 19th century but presumably it replaces a 16th-century aisle. The three N. windows are square-headed and of three trefoil-headed lights. The W. window is of two lights with a central quatrefoil under a two-centred head; it has a hood-mould with reset headstops that are probably of the 18th century.

In the South Aisle, the E., S. and W. walls have hollow-chamfered plinths, and roll-moulded and hollow-chamfered string-courses below ashlar parapets with moulded copings. The greater part of the E. wall is of rubble, similar in texture to that of the chancel and therefore probably mediaeval, but the S. and W. walls appear to be largely of 1870. At the S.E. and S.W. corners are diagonal buttresses of two weathered stages; above these the parapet string-course is interrupted by reset 16th-century gargoyles (Plate 18). A square-set buttress in the E. part of the S. wall is surmounted by a similar gargoyle, and above it in the parapet coping is the base of a pinnacle. The S. doorway is probably of the 16th century; it has a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs. To the W., the small doorway to the 19th-century porch vice has an elliptical head without mouldings. The aisle windows are all of 1870; they are two-centred, each with two trefoil-headed lights and a central roundel.

The West Tower (10 ft. by 11 ft.) has two stages; at the base is a hollow-chamfered plinth. At the N.W. and S.W. corners the lower stage has diagonal buttresses of three weathered stages; above the S. aisle roof the S.E. corner has a corresponding square-set buttress and at the N.E. corner a similar buttress is combined with the vice turret. The upper stage, with no buttresses, is distinguished from the lower stage by a weathered and hollow-chamfered string-course; at the top is a hollow-chamfered and roll-moulded string-course, and an embattled parapet with a continuous weathered coping. The tower arch is segmental-pointed and has two wave-moulded orders separated by hollow-chamfers; the inner order dies into plain responds which have hollow-chamfered arrises and rounded base-stops; the outer orders to E. and W. finish on grotesque head-stops. The vice doorway in the N. wall has a hollow-chamfered four-centred head with continuous jambs; 12th-century carving (see Miscellanea) is preserved on the reverse of the head. The W. doorway is of the 16th century and has a round head with a beaded arris, a hollow-chamfer and a roll-moulding worked to a flat fillet on one side; these mouldings continue without capitals on the jambs and terminate in moulded bases. Above them the arch has a weathered, beaded and hollow-chamfered label with returned and carved stops; that to the N. represents a woodhouse and that to the S. a chained beast. The W. doorway appears to have been inserted beneath the W. window (Plate 181), which is of the 15th century and has three trefoil-headed lights below vertical tracery in a two-centred head; overall is a hollow-chamfered label with 18th-century bishop and king head-stops. High up in the lower stage, the S. wall of the tower has a single chamfered square-headed light with a square label. The upper stage of the tower has, in each face, a belfry window of two two-centred trefoil-headed lights below vertical tracery in a two-centred head; the lights are closed with pierced stone panels.

The South Porch (7½ ft. by 8 ft.) was restored in the 19th century and has an upper chamber approached by a vice in a 19th-century turret at the N.W. corner. The S.E. and S.W. corners have diagonal ashlar buttresses of two weathered stages; at the top, the moulded parapet of the aisle is carried around the porch, rising to a low gable at the centre of the S. side. Above the buttresses, the angles of the parapet wall have grotesque gargoyles which project from the string-course. The porch arch has an elliptical head with double ogee and hollow-chamfered mouldings, continuing on the jambs to run-out stops; above is a square-headed window of three trefoil-headed lights.

Fittings—Bells: four; 2nd with initials and date, probably 1627, reversed; others recast 1884. Bier: with turned legs, shaped braces, beaded rails and turned bearers, oak, early 18th-century. Font: with cylindrical Purbeck marble bowl with incised decoration of round-headed arches; bowl rests on polygonal hollow-chamfered plate, supported on moulded octagonal centre shaft surrounded by three cylindrical shafts with bases and capitals; shafts stand on chamfered Purbeck marble pedestal; bowl and pedestal 12th century, plate and shafts 15th century. Brass: In chancel, reset on N. wall, plate (17½ ins. by 2½ ins.) with two-line black-letter inscription 'Hic jacet dns. Rob'tus Canon hui' ecclie. nup. rector qui obijt iii die octobr. Ao. dni. mccccxxxiii cui' aie. p'piciet'. deus Amen'. Glass: In W. window of S. wall, two 15th-century roundels; in W. window of tower, fragments of 15th-century glazing between cusps. Graffiti: On lead roof of tower, initials and dates, 1710, 1712. Monuments: In chancel, reset on N. wall, (1) of Robert Canon, 1433 (see Brass). In tower, on N. wall, (2) of Martha Michell, 1735, stone tablet with pediment, scrolled side-pieces, gadrooned base, and apron with cherub-head; on S. wall, (3) of Thomas St. Lo, rector, 1719, and others of same family, black stone inscription panel with gilt lettering in moulded marble surround, with cornice, obelisks and urn above, shaped apron with skulls below, and arms of St. Lo impaling Hull. On E. wall of porch, externally, (4) of Mary Young, 1808, rectangular stone panel carved to represent vase and drapery, inscription on vase. Niche: Reset as sedile in N. side of chancel, of stone, with moulded three-sided base on foliate corbel, side standards ornamented as pinnacles in two heights, traceried vaulting, and canopy in two tiers, lower tier with five pinnacles and four ogee-headed arches with crocketed finials, upper tier with three pinnacles and two arches, overall, large crocketed finial; 15th century. Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten, both with hallmarks of 1571, cup with zone of incised strap-work, base with enriched flange; also paten of 1721 presented in that year by Anne St. Lo. Miscellanea: On reverse of tower vice door-head, carved head, nimbed, with large eyes and fringe of hair, six-petalled rosette adjacent; 12th century.


(2) Bridge (71580781), over the R. Lydden, is of rubble in two spans with segmental arches and triangular cut-waters. It is of the early 19th century.

(3) Parsons' Bridge, (70480968), over the stream on the N.W. boundary of the parish, is of rubble in one span with a semicircular arch; it dates from the late 18th or early 19th century.

(4) The Rectory (71200845), 100 yards S.E. of the church, is two-storied with attics and has rendered walls and slated roofs. It was probably built at three periods. The N.W. part of the main block is of the late 18th century; its N.W. front (Plate 55), in the 'Gothic' style, may have been inspired by Chambers's work at Milton Abbey. The S.E. part of the main block was added early in the 19th century. The large room to the S. is probably of the mid 19th century.

The Rectory

The N.W. front is symmetrical and of three bays, the middle bay slightly recessed. At the centre is the front doorway, in a projecting three-sided porch; it has a pointed head with a label and is flanked by narrow lancet lights. On either side the ground floor has a three-light sashed window in which each light has a four-centred head and label; on the first floor are three sashed windows with four-centred heads under square labels, and above these are three oval attic lights. At the top is an embattled parapet with very small crenellations in the middle bay and large ones on the side bays. The S.E. front is also symmetrical and of three bays, but in an entirely different style. At the centre of the ground floor is a bow window, flanked by fluted Doric columns and capped by a classical entablature. To one side is a french window of four lights, and presumably a similar window originally opened on the other side but it has now been replaced by a sashed bay window. On the first floor are three square-headed sashed windows. The roof is low-pitched, with spreading eaves over a moulded cornice. The wing which projects S. from the main block is of similar design.

Inside, the vestibule at the centre of the N.W. front has a stone fireplace surround with a four-centred head. At the middle of the house is a compartment with a circular ceiling supported on four pendentives and four elliptical arches with reeded soffits. The southern room of the S.E. front has a circular plan with round-headed recesses on the diagonals, moulded pilasters to the doorways and a reeded marble fireplace surround with corner roundels.

(5) Manor Farm (72500950), house, 1 m. N.E. of the church, is two-storied, with brick walls and tiled roofs; it dates from the 18th century. The W. front is symmetrical and of three bays. A square-headed central doorway is flanked on the ground floor by wooden three-light casement windows with cambered brick heads. The first floor is marked by a plat-band and there are three casement windows in the upper storey. A long wing, perhaps earlier than the W. range, extends E. from the S. part of the range; its N. elevation is of coursed rubble and its S. side is rendered.

(6) East Pulham Farm (72220968), 400 yds. N.W. of the foregoing, is two-storied with attics and has rendered walls and thatched roofs; it is probably of the 18th century. It has a symmetrical E. front of three bays with casement windows. Inside, one room retains a deep-chamfered beam.

Monuments (7–10)

The following monuments are two-storied and of the late 18th or of the first half of the 19th century.

(7) Cannings Court (71750765), 5/8 m. S.E. of the church, has rendered rubble walls and slated roofs. The symmetrical threebay W. front has a round-headed central doorway with a fan-light; the windows of both storeys are sashed.

(8) Lipgate Farm (70370824), ½ m. W. of the church, has rendered walls and a slated roof; the symmetrical W. front is of three bays.

(9) Lipgate Cottages (70330819), 100 yds. S.W. of the foregoing, have rendered walls and slated roofs and were probably built towards the middle of the 19th century.

(10) Pickett's Cottages (69640828), 1 m. W. of the church, have rubble walls and slated roofs; the W. tenement is of the late 18th century and that to the E. is later. Inside, the W. tenement has an open fireplace and internal partition walls of cob.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(11) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the two open-field systems in the parish is unknown. Remains of the open fields of West Pulham exist in two places. Some 350 yds. S.E. of Lipgate Farm (706079) is the S. part of a block of flat strips, 15 yds. to 20 yds. wide. Further traces of ridge-and-furrow can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974: 1186–9), around the village.

Remains of the open fields of East Pulham occur 300 yds. N. of Manor Farm (725097), where a small block of ridge-and-furrow 7 yds. wide is overlain by modern field hedges. Further traces can be seen on air photographs to S.E. and N.E. of East Pulham.


  • 1. Dorset Procs., LXXXVII (1965), 251 f.