An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
43 STALBRIDGE (7318)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 71 NW, ST 71 NE, ST 71 SW)
The parish, covering almost 5,900 acres, lies on undulating ground which rises gradually from about 170 ft. above sea-level in the E. to nearly 450 ft. in the W. The land is drained by a number of small streams flowing into the R. Stour, which forms the E. boundary of the parish. The E. and S. parts of the area are on Oxford Clay, the W. is on Forest Marble and the centre is on a band of Cornbrash Beds. Originally there were two settlements, Stalbridge and Weston (D.B., I, f. 77). Beyond their open fields several secondary settlements were already in existence in the 14th century; they include Thornhill, Antioch Farm, Frith Farm, Gummershay Farm, Hargrove Farm, Marsh Farm, Callow Weston and Newnham, all of which are associated with enclosed fields. A large area between Stalbridge and Thornhill remained open common until early in the 19th century, when it was enclosed. (fn. 1)
The small town of Stalbridge stands on rising ground in the N. part of the parish. The church is largely of the 19th century, and the principal monuments are the Market Cross (2) and Thornhill House (3).
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary stands on a steep rise at the N. end of the village; it has walls of squared and coursed rubble with ashlar dressings, and slated roofs. Although extensively rebuilt in 1868 and 1877 the church retains the N. and S. arcades of a late 14th century Nave, vestiges of North and South Transepts of the same date, and a North Chapel of the early 16th century.
Architectural Description—The Chancel is of the 19th century, except for the N. side which retains a three-bay arcade of the 16th century, with three two-centred arches of two chamfered orders rising from columns and responds in which three-quarter shafts alternate with hollow chamfers; the bases are polygonal and the capitals are decorated with shields and with angels bearing scrolls. The E. respond capital (Plate 17) has shields to N. and S. and an angel in the centre bearing a scroll with an invocation incised in black-letter 'Orate p. aia. bnfactor. Thoe. Shilb'; the N. shield depicts in relief a tree and a chevron between three birds; the S. shield has an engrailed chevron above 'WS' entwined and, in chief, Tudor roses flanking the initial 'H'. The capital of the E. column has four winged figures, restored, carrying scrolls inscribed in black-letter with the names of the evangelists. The capital of the W. column has restored angels bearing scrolls inscribed with various invocations. The partly restored W. respond has a capital with a central angel with a shield depicting three fishes entwined, and flanking shields inscribed 'RS' and 'IB' (Plate 17).
The North Chapel (28½ ft. by 14 ft.) has, reset above the restored E. window, the head of a late 14th or early 15th-century window of two trefoil-headed lights with a cusped centre light in a chamfered two-centred surround. The N. wall has two restored windows and, at the W. end, a blocked doorway with a moulded four-centred head. The W. wall has a two-centred arch of two chamfered orders with responds similar to those of the N. arcade of the chancel but somewhat higher. The capital of the N. respond has a central angel bearing a shield charged with the letter 'M', a flail and a crosier, and two flanking shields, one with the monogram 'WH', the other with emblems of the Passion and the letters 'TAIC'. The capital of the S. respond has a central angel bearing a shield with a bird sitting on the letter 'P' and, on either side, shields engraved 'Marcy' and 'IHS'.
The Nave (57 ft. by 16½ ft.) has N. and S. arcades of four bays with two-centred arches of two wave-moulded orders rising above cylindrical piers with attached three-quarter shafts. The piers have polygonal bases and moulded caps, restored in plaster. The N. aisle is largely of the 19th century but the E. wall and the eastern part of the N. wall, representing a former North Transept, are probably of the 14th century; they have chamfered plinths. In the S. respond of the archway to the N. chapel is the former rood-vice doorway, with a rebated four-centred head and continuous jambs. The walls of the South Transept have been refaced and appear to be modern, but a 14th-century piscina remains.
Fittings—Bells: six; 2nd inscribed 'WD. RG. TP. Anno Domini 1649'; 5th inscribed 'Thos. Bartlett & Jas. Dober Ch. Wardens, Mr. Robert James gent.; God save the King & prosper this town to keep democrates down; to effect it ye Britons be firm in the cause, in supporting our King constitution & laws; Thos. & Jas. Bilbie Chewstoke Somt. fecit 1795'; 6th inscribed 'Stephen James & John Lewis Church Wardens; I to the church the living call & to the grave doth summons all; William Bilbie Chewstoke founder, 1779'; others modern. Bracket: In S. aisle, on timber pedestal, loose stone slab with one moulded edge and head-boss, mediaeval. Chests: two, of oak, one with plank sides and lid heavily banded with iron, with three locks, 16th century; another with panelled sides and chipcarving, 17th century. Coffin-lid: In N. chapel, reset on E. wall, part of coffin-lid with floriate cross in high relief, c. 1300. Font: with spherical Greensand bowl and short cylindrical Ham Hill stem, early 13th century, plinth modern. Hatchment: In chancel, on N. wall, arms of Pope impaling Buckler. Graffiti: On monument (1), 17th and 18th-century initials and dates.
Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In chancel, in E. bay of N. arcade, (1) table-tomb with moulded stone slab, sides with hollow-chamfered quatrefoil panels enclosing blank shields, late 15th or early 16th century; reset on S. wall, (2) of John Douche, rector, 1675 and his sons James and Charles, 1674, triple panel of clunch with painted inscription, with brackets, Corinthian columns and rounded pediment with carved tympanum; (3) of Sarah Bradford, 1810, Edward Bradford, 1837 and their son Edward Paget Bradford, 1822, tablet in Gothic surround, by H. Hopper, London. In N. chapel, on E. wall, (4) of William Boucher, 1836, white marble tablet with classical enrichment and shield-of-arms, by Osmund of Sarum; in N.E. corner, (5) of Thomas Weston, 17th-century wall-monument of painted stone with inscription panel flanked by Corinthian columns, above, entablature and arms of Weston impaling Willoughby, also same coats separately; at E. end of N. wall, (6) table-tomb similar to (1), with life-size cadaver effigy (Plate 193), late 15th or early 16th century; on N. wall, (7) of William Weston, 1727, slate inscription tablet with painted lettering surmounted by pediment with urn, below, foliate apron with arms of Weston impaling Brune; (8) of Rev. William Douche, 1648, and Joanna his wife, 1667, stone tablet with two round-headed panels linked by clasped hands; spandrels with cherub decoration. Reset in splayed S.W. corner of N. chapel, (9) of Ciscily Freke  and Frances Freke, 1665, two stone panels with moulded borders; below, small tablet inscribed 'Ano Do 1667', formerly set above Ciscily Freke's tablet (Hutchins III, 679). In N. aisle, on N. wall, (10) of William Gray, 1814 and others of same family, white marble tablet with cornice and urn by Jenkins of Poole. In S. aisle, at W. end, (11) of Mary Clarke, 1840, stone tablet. Floor-slab: In N. chapel, reset and clamped to S.W. wall, 13th-century Purbeck marble floor-slab with marginal inscription in Lombardic capitals, HIC IACET IN TOMBA MAGI[STER] WILLS DE EXONIA QUONDAM RECTOR EC[CLESIE HUI]US CUIS ANIMA PRO[PICIE]TUR DEUS.
Niche: In chancel, in N. wall, rounded recess with standards supporting three-sided canopy with miniature rib vaulting and cusped and crocketed ogee-headed arcading, early 16th century Piscina: In S. transept, in E. wall, with rebated and chamfered two-centred head and shallow round bowl with central outlet, 14th century. Plate: Silver cup and paten, both with hallmarks of 1809; also silver flagon of 1838 and silver paten of 1841. Miscellanea: In N. chapel, loose, carved stone heads of lady, veiled, and of boy with protruding tongue, mediaeval. In N. aisle, reset above archway to N. chapel, moulded fragment of string-course with head-corbel, late mediaeval. Reset above S. doorway to vestry, tablet inscribed 'Seek . . . ye . . . the Kingdome of God', 18th century.
(2) Market Cross (73491800), 250 yds. S.E. of the church, is of the second half of the 15th century and is probably the best example of its kind in Dorset (Plate 50). It is of limestone from Marnhull or Todber and has an octagonal base of three steps above a chamfered plinth. The top step supports a square pedestal with a hollow-chamfered base and a moulded capping; the upper part of the pedestal is given an octagonal plan by partial chamfering of the corners; the four cardinal faces of the octagon so formed have sculptured panels, now too worn to be intelligible (but see Hutchins III, engraving (fn. 2) facing p. 674). The tapering shaft is octagonal, with pinnacles in the reserves resulting in a square plan at the base; each pinnacle has a moulded band at half height and a crocketed finial at the top; a corbel projecting from the W. face of the shaft supports a carved figure, now weathered beyond recognition, under a nodding ogee-headed canopy with a tall crocketed finial; all these features are integral with the shaft. The shaft is crowned by a capital in the form of four winged figures holding shields. The cross-head has a canopied recess containing a representation of the crucifixion, in relief; above are traceried and crocketed niche-heads and a crocketed finial with four small niches. The original cross-head fell down in 1950 and a modern replica has been substituted.
(3) Thornhill (74051497), house, some 2 m. S. of the church, is two storied with attics; the walls are rendered, with ashlar dressings and the roofs are stoneslated. The estate was purchased c. 1725 by the painter Sir James Thornhill and the present house was probably built by him. The N. front (Plate 197) is likely to have been his own design and he may also have been responsible for a carved wooden fireplace surround in the library (Plate 77). The paintings which he is said to have executed inside the house have disappeared. The house was much altered in the late 18th century, and again in the 19th century.
The N. front is symmetrical and of five bays, the three central bays forming a slightly projecting pavilion with rusticated quoins and a pediment. The central doorway on the ground floor is surrounded by rusticated masonry, with scroll consoles supporting a flat entablature; on the first floor, the large round-headed central window is flanked by Doric pilasters which support a moulded archivolt with a large triple keystone. The other windows in both storeys have plain surrounds; those in the upper storey of the central pavilion are surmounted by swags of drapery; the pediment contains a bull's-eye window. The E. front is symmetrical and of seven bays, the two end bays being set slightly forward and defined by rusticated quoins. A projecting two-storied porch was added to the middle bay in the 19th century; some of the original sashed windows are decorated with 19th-century labels and others have been widened and made into mullioned three-light openings. The S. front is similar to the N. front but simpler, the central opening having no rustication and the swags being omitted; lateral ground-floor wings projecting S. from the S. front are modern. The W. front has asymmetrical fenestration and is partly masked by a late 19th-century addition.
Inside, the original ground-plan has been much altered and a staircase and stair hall have been added. The principal rooms have moulded skirtings, dado rails and cornices, and some rooms have 18th-century panelling. The library on the first floor has a wooden fireplace surround of c. 1730 that may have been designed by Thornhill himself; it has canted caryatid jambs supporting a plain entablature with a centre panel depicting a torch with garlands. The doors of the library are eight-panelled and the door-cases are surmounted by pedimented and pulvinated entablatures. The ceiling, probably of the 19th century, is a segmental barrel-vault enriched with moulded panels. At the head of the staircase is a late 18th-century doorway with an enriched architrave flanked by panelled pilasters with scroll consoles; above is a frieze decorated with vases, garlands and paterae, and a dentil cornice.
The Stables to the S. of the house are of the late 18th or early 19th century and are single-storied, with rendered walls and slated roofs. An Obelisk, 130 yds. N.W. of the house, is of ashlar and has a stepped pedestal with a moulded cornice; it was first erected by Sir James Thornhill in 1727 in honour of King George II and Queen Caroline but it was destroyed in a gale in 1836 and has been rebuilt. Broken fragments of the original inscription are preserved in an outbuilding near the house.
(4) Remains of the Manor House, now destroyed, are found in Stalbridge Park, 200 yds. W. of the church, on a gentle declivity with extensive views to the S. across the Stour valley. From Hutchins's engraving (III, opp. 670) the former house appears to have been of c. 1600. In Leland's time the manor house had been on the S. side of the church and the 17th-century building must therefore have been erected on a new site; it was demolished in 1822 and nothing remains except the park wall, a 17th-century gateway, earthworks, a walled kitchen garden and some fragments of stonework that are built into an adjacent farmhouse.
The Park Wall is of dry-laid coursed rubble, some 10 ft. high, with a rounded capping and a projecting drip-course. The Park Gateway (73311827) is of the 17th century and consists of two stout ashlar piers, in which alternate courses are rusticated, capped by modillion cornices above which rise stone lion-head crests (Plate 66). The gates are of wrought iron with spear-headed uprights and a top rail sweeping down in a segmental curve from the hinges to the meeting stiles. Inside the gateway the road is flanked by an avenue of elm trees. The site of the 17th-century house (73161812) is a flat terrace (80 yds. by 50 yds.) defined by scarps to the N.W. and S.E. and by a bank to the N.E. Earthworks N.E. of the house site are probably the remains of formal gardens which were destroyed soon after 1745, when the park was enlarged, walled and landscaped; the earthworks cover about 4 acres and comprise a number of low scarps, banks and ditches defining flat rectangular areas. The Kitchen Gardens, immediately S.W. of the house site, have a dry stone wall enclosing about half an acre.
Park Farm, house, about 50 yds. N.W. of the manor house site, is of two storeys with attics and has rendered walls and stone-slated roofs; it is probably of the first half of the 19th century. The S. front is symmetrical and of five bays, with a central doorway and mullioned and transomed two-light windows in both storeys; at the base is a rubble plinth with an ashlar capping. In the middle bay the capping is hollow-chamfered and roll-moulded and this is presumably a fragment from the manor house; the same mouldings occur more consistently in the plinths of the E. and W. walls; elsewhere the capping is chamfered. The middle bay of the S. front has a 19th-century ashlar porch, on each side of which is reset an early 17th-century shell-headed stone niche.
(5) The Rectory (73501801), 250 yds. S.E. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings, and slated and stone-slated roofs; it was built in 1699. The W. front of the main block is of five bays with a central doorway. Originally it was symmetrical, with uniform sashed windows in each storey; the first floor is marked by a plat-band and the eaves have a cornice of moulded modillions; the N. and S. ends of the façade have ashlar quoins. In later modifications, probably of the 19th century, a porch and a bowwindow were added and the sashes were deprived of glazingbars. To the N. is a lower service wing, of two bays. The E. elevation is also of five bays; at the centre is a doorway with a flat hood on consoles, and above the doorway is a sashed window at the level of the staircase half-landing; the other windows are symmetrically disposed and have sashes deprived of glazingbars. The S. end wall is rendered; it has a double gable and a lead rain-water head inscribed 'R.W. 1699' for Richard Wright, rector, 1694–1737. Inside, the staircase has close strings, square newel-posts with moulded caps and carved pendants, moulded handrails and turned balusters, each baluster being vase-shaped in the upper zone and pear-shaped below; this balustrade continues to the attic storey. The newel-post pendants are carved with fleurs-de-lis and pelicans, emblems from the arms of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, to which foundation the advowson belongs.
(6) Cottages (73501791), two adjoining, 330 yds. S.E. of the church, are two-storied and have walls of coursed rubble, and roofs covered with stone-slates; they were built about the end of the 16th century. All openings are modern and there are no noteworthy external features. A ground-floor room in the S. cottage has intersecting ceiling beams with hollow-chamfered and ogee mouldings. The N. cottage has a nine-bay ceiling formed by the intersection of two pairs of deep-chamfered beams, with corresponding wall-plates; this room has been divided by a modern partition.
(7) Sturt Farm (72701681), house, 1 m. S.W. of the church, at Stalbridge Weston, is two-storied, with coursed rubble walls with ashlar dressings, and with tiled roofs; the main range was built at the end of the 16th century and extended to the S. in the 18th century; additions to the W. of the extension are of the 19th century. The W. front of the original range is symmetrical and of three bays, with a central two-light window flanked by three-light windows, all with hollow-chamfered and ogeemoulded stone mullions and surrounds, and hollow-chamfered labels; similar openings occur on the first floor, the central one modern. The W. side of the 18th-century extension is of one bay and has on the ground floor a doorway with a moulded four-centred head under plain spandrels in a square surround; the mouldings end above shaped stops about half way up the jambs; this doorway has probably been transferred from the central bay of the original range. On the E. side of the house, the part that corresponds with the two N. bays of the W. front projects as a gabled wing, contemporary with the original range and having, in its S. wall, a doorway with a chamfered four-centred head. The other openings in the E. wall are modern. Inside, several rooms have deep chamfered ceiling beams, and a doorway in the E. wing has chamfered shouldered jambs and a chamfered head. The stairs are located on the S. side of the E. wing and thus at the E. end of what may originally have been a central through-passage; however, the S. wall of the presumed through-passage no longer exists.
(8) House (71971658) at Stalbridge Weston, over 1¼ m. S.W. of the church, is two-storied and has walls of coursed rubble, and thatched roofs; it is of late 16th or early 17th-century origin and until recently was a range of three cottages. A window on the first floor of the N. front has moulded timber mullions and is probably of the 17th century; the other openings are modern. Inside, the ground-floor room of what was formerly the middle tenement has deep-chamfered wall-plates and beams intersecting to make a six-bay ceiling. The open fireplace has a chamfered four-centred head and the wall-plate above it is supported on a moulded corbel.
(9) House (71951655), S.W. of the foregoing, is single-storied with dormer-windowed attics and has walls of coursed rubble and thatched roofs. The main range is of the 16th century and there is an 18th century wing to the S. Externally there are no notable features. Inside, the original range comprises three ground-floor rooms, two of them with fireplaces, and a throughpassage. The back of one chimney-breast forms the W. side of the passage; the E. side of the passage is probably of plank-and-muntin but the material is now hidden. The E. room has a ceiling of roughly squared joists resting at the E. end on a chamfered transverse beam. The open fireplace in the gabled E. wall has chamfered timber jambs and a chamfered and cambered bressummer. The middle room has deeply chamfered wall-plates and intersecting ceiling beams; the open fireplace has a heavy cambered and chamfered timber bressummer and continuous jambs. The partition of the W. room has a heavy chamfered plate and the doorway has shouldered and chamfered jambs. In the attics, where part of the roof is exposed, the 16th-century range retains parts of an original four-bay roof supported on three cruck-trusses with cambered tie-beams; these trusses carry a ridge beam and three purlins on each side; between the purlins are curved wind-braces.
Unless otherwise described, the following monuments are two-storied houses and cottages with coursed rubble walls and stone-slated roofs. They are of the 18th century and are all situated in Stalbridge town.
(10) Church House, 30 yds. S.E. of the church, has slated roofs. The central part of the range is of the 18th century and the two ends are of the 19th century; that to the E. is rendered and has moulded window architraves with keystones. A range of 17th-century Cottages, 60 yds. to the S.W., has recently been demolished; it had thatched roofs, and one tenement contained a fireplace with a four-centred stone head.
(11) House (73491807), 210 yds. S.E. of the church, has a symmetrical three-bay S. front; the central doorway has a pedimented hood on shaped brackets, and three-light sashed windows on either side. The roofs are tiled.
(12) Cottages, two adjoining (73481801), stand 230 yds. S.E. of the church. One cottage has a door-hood with a dentil cornice on shaped brackets.
(13) Cottage (73271795), 280 yds. S.W. of the church, has a S. front of two bays; the doorway is in the W. bay and the E. bay is masked by a modern bow window. The roof is thatched.
(14) Cottage (73331787), 350 yds. S. of the church, is of the late 18th century. The roof is thatched.
(15) Cottage, 30 yds. E. of the foregoing, has a symmetrical E. front of two bays with a central doorway. The gabled E. wall is rendered, and the date 1759 is scratched at the base of a chimney-stack.
(16) Cottage (73491783), ¼ m. S. of the church, has a thatched roof. Inside, one ground-floor room has a chamfered beam with shaped stops.
(17) Cottage, 15 yds. S.E. of the foregoing, contains a chamfered beam with run-out stops.
(18) Cottage (73511786), on the W. side of the High Street, has a symmetrical three-bay E. front with casement windows of two and three lights, with timber mullions. On the ground floor, S. of the doorway, is an early 19th-century shop window.
(19) Cottages (73631792), two adjoining, ¼ m. S.E. of the church, have modern tiled roofs. The N.W. front of the S.W. tenement has a first-floor casement window of three lights with ovolo-moulded wood surrounds. Inside are shallow-chamfered ceiling beams.
(20) Cottages (73571775), range of four, 500 yds. S.E. of the church, have thatched roofs with stone-slated verges.
Unless otherwise described, the following monuments are of two storeys and have walls of coursed rubble and are roofed with stone-slates. They were built in the 18th century and are scattered in different parts of the parish, outside the town.
(21) Cottage (75661597), immediately E. of Ryall's Farm, is now used as an outbuilding. It has a tiled roof and the S.E. gable is finished with a weathered coping.
(22) Antioch Cottages (73231580), 1½ m. S. of the church, comprise three tenements; that to the W. is of the late 18th or early 19th century, the others are of the mid 18th century.
(23) Poolestown Cottages (74031640), 1¼ m. S.E. of the church, have thatched roofs and are of the late 18th century with early 19th-century additions at each end of the original range. Inside, the W. cottage has a chamfered beam.
(24) Farmhouse (72051655), at Stalbridge Weston, 60 yds. E. of (8), has a thatched roof. The oldest part is of the late 18th century and a date-stone of 1700 appears to be reset. The house has a symmetrical S. elevation of three bays. A two-bay addition extends to the W.
(25) Cottages (71971663), two adjoining, have thatched roofs. They have been combined to make a single dwelling and have a 19th-century addition at the N. end.
These, and the un-numbered monuments which follow, are of the first half of the 19th century. Monument (27) serves as a criterion for the dating of numerous cottages in the town.
(26) School (73341827), 80 yds. N. of the church, is single-storied and has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings and is roofed with Welsh slates. It was built in 1832.
(27) Cottages, pair (73301798), on the N. side of Gold Street, 270 yds. S.W. of the church, have rubble walls and hipped stone-slated roofs and are of two storeys. Each tenement has a symmetrical two-bay S. front with a central doorway. A common chimney-stack stands at the centre of the roof ridge. All windows are of two lights with timber surrounds and leaded casements. A date-stone of 1831 at the centre of the S. front records the year of erection.
The parish also contains about 60 small houses and cottages of the first half of the 19th century. Many of them have rubble walls and stone-slated roofs. About 35 such cottages are situated in the town and the others are dispersed through the parish, principally as farm-workers' dwellings. Gummershay Farm (75951795) is dated 1836; a Cottage at 74551625 has a date-stone of 1820, now concealed.
Bridges at 75241937, 74501725 and 72281638 are of rubble and appear to have been built about the middle of the 19th century.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(28) Cultivation Remains. The open fields of Stalbridge lay S. and E. of the town and were probably still in existence in 1516, when a 'South Field' was recorded (Dorset Procs., LXXVII (1955), 161). Ridge-and-furrow can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974: 3157) N.E. of Sturt Farm (730170); it is unrelated to the present field boundaries.
The open fields of Stalbridge Weston were already enclosed in 1662 (Schedule of Land at Stalbridge Weston, D.C.R.O.). Ridge-and-furrow 6 yds. to 8 yds. wide remains in several places around the village, notably at 724167 and 721168.
Ridge-and-furrow within existing fields, associated with the settlements of Hargrove, Marsh, and Gummershay farms, is noted at 750154, 755165 and 757178; it is 6 yds. to 7 yds. wide with headlands 7 yds. wide.
Manor House, see (4).
Roman and Prehistoric
(29) Occupation Debris (73351784), Romano-British, including pottery, oyster-shells, bones, and coins of Tetricus I, Constantine I and Gratian, have been found on the lower slopes of Barrow Hill, on Cornbrash Beds, at c. 300 ft. above O.D. (Ordnance Survey records).
A human skeleton, the mouth of which contained a Roman coin, perhaps of Constantine, is said to have been found in 1918 during the extension of a butter works at Devonshire House (S. & D., N. & Q., XVI (1920), 47); the location cannot be ascertained.