Stourton Caundle

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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'Stourton Caundle', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 265-269. British History Online [accessed 16 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. ST 61 NE, ST 61 SE, ST 71 NW, ST 71 SW)

The parish covers 2,000 acres, rising gently from 200 ft. above sea-level in the S.E. to nearly 500 ft. in the N.W. The land is drained by small streams which flow through narrow, steep-sided valleys to the Caundle Brook on the S.E. boundary of the parish. The E. part of the area is on Oxford Clay, the centre is on Cornbrash Beds and the W. is on Forest Marble. The village stands at the point where the road from Stalbridge to Bishop's Caundle crosses one of the Caundle tributaries; it was surrounded by its mediaeval open fields. The settlement is probably represented in Domesday by one or more of the eight entries for 'Caundle'. Higher and more broken land on the W. appears to have been enclosed direct from the 'waste' and this development was probably associated with the establishment of secondary settlements such as Cockhill and Woodrow farms, already in existence in the 14th century. (fn. 1) The church is the principal monument.

Stourton Caundle, the Parish Church of St. Peter


(1) The Parish Church of St. Peter stands at the N. end of the village. The walls are of rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with stone-slates. The Chancel dates from the first half of the 13th century; the West Tower was built in the 14th century and late in the same century the Nave and the E. wall of the chancel were rebuilt; the South Porch is also of the late 14th century. The chancel arch was rebuilt and the South Chapel was added early in the 15th century.

The church, restored in 1902, is of some architectural interest; it contains a canopied table-tomb of the 15th century and a well-preserved early 16th-century pulpit.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (20¾ ft. by 15¾ ft.) has a late 14th-century E. window of two trefoil-headed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head with a label. In the N. wall are two 13th-century lancets, rebated externally for shutters. In the S. wall is a similar lancet and a doorway with chamfered jambs and a restored two-centred head; adjacent on the W. is an irregular opening to the S. chapel with, on the E. side, a fragment of chamfered stonework and one voussoir, possibly the remains of the rear-arch of a former window. The chancel arch is two-centred and of three orders, a hollow-chamfer between two ogee mouldings; the hollow-chamfer continues on the responds and the ogee mouldings are carried on attached shafts with moulded caps and chamfered bases.

The Nave (36½ ft. by 20¼ ft.) has, in the N.E. corner, a rood-loft vice with a doorway with a rebated four-centred head and continuous jambs; above, the vice recess has a head formed of two chamfered lintel stones; a little to the W. is the relieving arch of a small N. window, now blocked. Further W. are two late 14th-century windows, each of two cinquefoil-headed lights with a cinquefoil tracery light in a two-centred head, under a label. High up in the western part of the N. wall is an 18th-century oval window, inserted to light a former gallery, now gone. In the S. wall at the E. end is the two-centred early 15th-century archway to the S. chapel, with details similar to those of the chancel arch. Reset at the level of the former rood-loft is a small rebated 13th-century lancet light. The late 14th-century S. doorway has a chamfered two-centred head with a label, and continuous jambs; further W. is a restored window similar to those of the N. wall, and at the W. end of the S. wall is an oval gallery window, as on the N. side.

The South Chapel (19¾ ft. by 11¼ ft.) has a reset 14th-century E. window of two trefoil-headed lights with a central quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a label. In the N. wall, near the E. end, is a two-centred arch of two hollow-chamfered orders, dying into plain responds; the archway corresponds with the irregular opening noted in the S. wall of the chancel. In the S. wall is a 15th-century window of three trefoil-headed lights, with vertical tracery in a casement-moulded segmental-pointed head with continuous jambs. The S.E. corner has a diagonal buttress of two weathered stages; at the S.W. corner is a similar square-set buttress.

The West Tower (10 ft. square) is of three stages, with a moulded plinth, weathered string-courses, an embattled parapet, gargoyles, and pinnacles with crocketed finials. At the N.E. corner is a rectangular vice turret with, adjacent, the upper part of a diagonal buttress; at the other three corners, diagonal buttresses of five weathered stages strengthen the two lower stages of the tower, the top stage has shallow corner pilasters. The tower-arch is segmental-pointed and of two hollow-chamfered orders springing from square responds. The W. doorway is modern; above it is a 14th-century window of three trefoil ogee-headed lights, with net-tracery in a two-centred head with a label. The second stage has a rectangular light in the N. wall. The belfry has, in each wall, a restored window of two trefoil-headed lights with a central quatrefoil in a two-centred head with a label.

The South Porch is of the late 14th century and has an outer archway of two wave-moulded orders with a label. Reset in the W. wall is a 13th-century lancet. The 15th-century wagon Roof of the chancel has been extensively restored and the plaster has been removed but it incorporates old material; the timbers that were originally exposed are chamfered. The 15th-century wagon roof of the nave is still plastered and has chamfered ribs forming panels, and hollow-chamfered wall-plates. The 15th-century wagon roof of the S. chapel, formerly plastered but now exposed, has chamfered and moulded ribs forming panels; the transverse ribs spring from wood corbels with blank shields. The roof of the porch is similar to that of the S. chapel but smaller; it has been much restored.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st, by Thomas Purdue, inscribed 'Anno Domini 1685 IW CW TP'; 2nd inscribed 'In honore Sancta Maria', mediaeval; 3rd, 18th century; 4th, probably by John Wallis of Salisbury, inscribed 'Praysed be thy name O Lord, 1588'. Communion Rails: Reset under chancel-arch, with ball-headed and beaded posts, beaded rails and turned balusters (Plate 23), 17th century; similar balusters reused in modern communion rails. Communion Table: In S. chapel, with turned legs, beaded rails and plain top, 17th century. Door: In S. doorway, of nail-studded planks with moulded ribs and strap-hinges, 15th century, restored; in tower vice doorway, of planks with moulded ribs, 16th century. Font: with moulded circular stone bowl with gadrooned underside, fluted and gadrooned baluster stem and moulded base (Plate 27), early 18th century. Hatchment: In S. chapel, wooden panel in gilt and black surround, with achievement-of-arms of Biddlecombe; probably 18th century. Inscription: In S. chapel, on W. wall, painted black-letter text, probably 17th century. In S. porch, panel with painted surround, winged hour-glass and inscription 'Pereunt et imputantur Horae E.C. fecit 1721'.

Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In nave, on N. wall, (1) canopied mural altar-tomb (Plate 30) with segmental-pointed cusped and sub-cusped head under crocketed gable enclosing two blank shields, on either side tall buttressed side-standards with crocketed finials; tomb-chest with moulded top slab and eight trefoil-headed panels, traces of painted figures in panels, 15th century; (2) reset in recess of foregoing tomb, alabaster recumbent effigy (Plate 193) of lady, 15th century. Externally, on N. wall of nave, (3) of Richard Guyer, 1754, stone tablet in moulded surround; (4) of John Haskall, 1751, stone tablet in moulded surround; on W. wall of porch, (5) of Richard Bidelcombe, 1711, stone tablet. In churchyard, S. of S. chapel, (6) of Joane, wife of William Cobbe, 1687, headstone; S. of S. doorway, (7) of Constance, wife of John Cobbe, 1657, headstone. Floor-slabs: In chancel, (1) of Anna, wife of Rev. Thomas Bisse, 1640. In nave, (2) of John Winsor, 1715, (3) of [Elizabeth] Serrell, 1770, and others of same family.

Piscinae: In S. wall of chancel, with trefoil head and chamfered jambs, 13th century, restored; in S. wall of S. chapel, with 13th-century window-head reused as head of recess. Plate: includes silver cup and paten of 1828, and another paten of 1831. Pulpit: of oak, hexagonal, with moulded rails and two heights of panelling (Plate 46); lower height linen-fold, upper height with round heads enclosing ogee-headed blind tracery with crocketed finials; moulded and crocketed pinnacles at angles; early 16th century. Royal Arms: In tower, on N. wall, painted boards in moulded surround, arms of Anne with initials AR. Sundial: On S. face of tower, stone slab with Roman numerals and iron gnomon, probably 18th century. Weather-vane: On tower, wrought-iron standard with metal pennon with perforated date 1691. Miscellanea: In nave, against W. wall, broken base of former font, moulded to receive pedestal and four shafts, late 12th or early 13th century; reset on W. door, oak lock-box, with carved date 1736; projecting from S. wall of S. chapel, dole-stone, 17th century; in recess of monument (1), fragment of carved angel with shield.

(2) Chapel (71331493), said to be of 'Stourton Castle' (but see (18)), stands 300 yds. S.W. of the church. Hutchins's continuator (III, 667) described it in 1869 as comprising a chancel and a nave, the chancel having lancet windows on each side and a wagon roof. Today, only the 13th-century Nave (21½ ft. by 18½ ft.) survives; it is used as a barn.

Stourton Caundle, Remains of Chapel

The walls are of rubble with ashlar dressings and the roof is stone-slated in the lower part and tiled above. Much of the E. wall is modern, but original quoins survive at the N.E. and S.E. corners. A vertical straight-joint near the S. end of the E. wall probably marks the S. respond of the former chancel arch. The N. wall, 22/3 ft. thick, has a doorway with a chamfered two-centred head, continuous jambs and a segmental-pointed rear-arch; to the E. is a lancet window with chamfered jambs, wide internal splays and a chamfered trefoil rear-arch. The S. wall is 1½ ft. thick and appears to be modern; nevertheless it retains one lancet light, as before, with truncated splays and with no rear-arch; the S. doorway is modern. The W. wall is 3 ft. thick and mediaeval; the jambs of a modern opening in the gable include stones from a mediaeval window. Graffiti on the jambs of the N. window and doorway include a cross scribed in a circle and dated initials of 1694; a similar scratching of 1697 occurs on the jamb of the S. window. To the S. of the chapel, a level rectangular area and a fragment of wall on the E. suggest a former burial-ground; human bones are said to have been discovered.

(3) Congregational Chapel (71451500), 200 yds. S. of the parish church, has ashlar and rubble walls and a slated roof; the doorway and windows have pointed heads. The chapel was built in 1859.


(4) Manor Farm (71451495), house, 300 yds. S. of the parish church, has rubble walls and stone-slated roofs and was built early in the 18th century; the sashed windows were probably inserted in the 19th century. Inside, the kitchen ceiling has a stop-chamfered beam; the stairs have turned balusters, moulded handrails and a panelled dog-gate, probably of the 18th century. Adjacent, on the W. and partly incorporated in the farmhouse, is a Barn that dates probably from the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century; it has rubble walls and stoneslated roofs, transeptal exit bays to N. and S., and jointed-cruck roof trusses with arch-braced collar-beams. A Barn some 30 yds. S. of the farmhouse has rubble walls and stone-slated roofs and is probably of the 18th century; the roof rests on two jointed-cruck trusses and on four tie-beam trusses.

(5) House (71491538), 200 yds. N. of the church, is two-storied with walls of coursed rubble and roofs covered with modern tiles; it was built early in the 17th century. The W. front retains a stone window of four square-headed lights with chamfered and ovolo-moulded mullions. An original first-floor window on the E. side has moulded timber mullions. The ground plan comprises a range of four rooms with an L-shaped throughpassage, probably original. Open fireplaces with moulded bressummers are set in the N. wall, and between the two middle rooms. The rooms and passage are divided by moulded plank-and-muntin partitions which appear to be still in situ. Five ceiling beams with ogee mouldings are exposed.

(6) Church Farm (71441524), house, 50 yds. N. of the church, is two-storied with rubble walls and modern tiled roofs; it is of the 17th century. The S. front is of two bays with a central doorway; on the ground floor, to the E. of the doorway, is an original stone window of three square-headed lights with chamfered jambs and mullions; to the W. is a small shaped loop; two three-light stone windows occur on the first floor. The S. wall leans outwards and is heavily buttressed. The E. front has a two-light stone window and an ashlar chimney-stack at the apex of the E. gable. Stone windows of two, three and four lights occur on the N. and W. fronts. Inside, one room has an exposed stop-chamfered beam and an open fireplace with a chamfered bressummer. A single-storied Cottage, 20 yds. to the S.E., is probably of the same date as the house; it has walls of coursed rubble and square-headed windows with ovolo-moulded wooden surrounds. In the N. wall is a chamfered loop with a two-centred head. Until recently the cottage had a stone-slated roof but it is now roofed with modern materials.

(7) New Leaze Farm (71421515), house, 75 yds. S.W. of the church, is two-storied, with rubble walls and modern tiled roofs; it was built late in the 17th or early in the 18th century. The plan is L-shaped. In the W. wall is an original window with moulded timber mullions. Inside there are several stop-chamfered beams and part of a plank-and-muntin partition.

(8) Cottages (71431507), two adjacent, are two-storied with rubble walls and galvanised-iron roofs; they probably date from the end of the 17th century. The stonework of the S.E. front shows that until recently the cottages were single-storied with dormer-windowed attics. One first-floor window retains a chamfered wooden surround; the other openings are modern. Inside, stop-chamfered ceiling beams are exposed. The building has recently been modernised and converted into a single dwelling.

(9) House (71491488), is two-storied with rubble walls and tiled roofs. The plan is L-shaped. The E. wing is probably of the late 17th century and the S. wing is of the 19th century. The masonry of the gabled E. wall of the original range shows that the range was originally single-storied. Inside, the E. wing has two exposed stop-chamfered ceiling beams; a wooden doorway has a chamfered square head and continuous jambs.

(10) Cottage (71531483), 410 yds. S. of the church, is two-storied with rubble walls and thatched roofs. The original building is of the end of the 17th century but the N. end of the range is later. Inside, are two stop-chamfered ceiling beams and an open fireplace with a cambered bressummer.

(11) Cottage, 100 yds. S. of the foregoing, is of two storeys and has rubble walls and a modern roof; it was built near the end of the 17th century. The E. room has two exposed ceiling beams with beaded edges.

(12) House (71561469), 560 yds. S. of (1), dates from late in the 17th or early in the 18th century; the walls are of rubble. Until recently the house was of one storey with attics under a thatched roof but the attics have been removed and the house is now single-storied with a modern roof. The original building was of two bays with a central doorway; a third bay was added to the S. in the 19th century. All windows and external doorways are modern. Inside, the original plan comprised a room on either side of a central through-passage. The N. room has an open fireplace with stone jambs and a chamfered timber bressummer; the ceiling beam is chamfered and the partition between this room and the through-passage is of plank-and-muntin. The original S. room has an open fireplace with a cambered and chamfered timber bressummer, and an oven.

(13) Cottage (71551483), 320 yds. S. of the church, is two-storied with rubble walls and thatched roofs; it was built towards the end of the 17th century. To the E. is a late 18th or early 19th-century extension. Adjacent, to the S., is a two-storied Malthouse with the date 1784 inscribed on a stone in the gabled W. wall.

Monuments (14–17)

Except where otherwise described, the following are two-storied 18th-century houses with rubble walls and with roofs that are either thatched or covered with modern materials.

(14) House (71431513), 85 yds. S. of the church, has the principal doorway to the E., with a segmental wooden hood enriched with moulding and dentils, supported on scrolled brackets; the steps leading up to this doorway have wrought-iron handrails.

(15) Brunsell's Farm (71431515), house, 60 yds. S. of the church, contains several exposed stop-chamfered beams.

(16) Cottage (71491499), 250 yds. S. of the church, is single-storied with dormer-windowed attics and is perhaps of the late 17th century. A ground-floor room has a four-panel ceiling with intersecting chamfered beams, and an open fireplace with a chamfered bressummer.

(17) Woodrow Farm (69921555), house, 1 m. W. of the church, was built near the end of the 18th century. The former thatched roof has recently been replaced by modern tiles. A large barn to the S. is probably contemporary with the house.

Buildings of the first half of the 19th century include: the Old Rectory (71461510), with rubble walls, partly rendered, a thatched roof, and a N. front of four bays with a central doorway; Houses (71551471) and (71931472), and a Bridge (71841472) with a segmental arch of rough ashlar, and rubble parapet walls.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(18) Platform (713150), on the N. side of a small valley 300 yds. S.W. of the church, is said to be the remains of a 'castle' (Hutchins III, 667). Nothing survives except a few indeterminate scarps and mounds, and a platform 45 yds. square and about ½ ft. high. There is no evidence of a mediaeval castle; the remains more probably represent a former manor house, perhaps with turrets, as shown on a plan in Wilts. Record Office (Stourhead papers, 929). Mediaeval pottery has been found on the site (O.S. records).

(19) Fish pond and leat (713149), in the bottom of a small steep-sided valley 330 yds. S.W. of the church, lie immediately S. of (18). The L-shaped pond, now dry, is 100 yds. long, 30 yds. wide and up to 10 ft. deep. At the E. or down-stream end are the abutments of a former dam. S. of the pond and cut into the valley side is a water channel or leat, 3 ft. to 5 ft. wide and up to 2½ ft. deep.

(20) Cultivation Remains. Nothing is known of the date of enclosure of the open fields of the parish. A few traces of ridge-and-furrow are visible on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/ UK 1974: 2155–7) around the village in straight and curving furlongs; they are unrelated to the present field boundaries.


  • 1. Fägersten, 40.