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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51 TURNWORTH (8207)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 80 NW)
The parish has an area of 1,176 acres and lies on the dip-slope of the Chalk, between 400 ft. and 800 ft. above O.D. The area is intersected by several small dry valleys which unite to form a larger valley in which the village stands. The settlement is mentioned in Domesday Book (Vol. I, f. 82b). Until 1887 the parish included a detached area of downland at Thorncombe, 4 m. to the S.E., now joined with Blandford St. Mary. The only important monument is the well-preserved prehistoric or Romano-British settlement, among 'Celtic' fields, on Ringmoor.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary was rebuilt in 1869, except for the West Tower which is of c. 1500.
Architectural Description—The Tower has walls of banded flint and Greensand ashlar in two main stages. At the N.E. corner is a square vice-turret, of ashlar, and the other three corners have diagonal six-stage buttresses, also of ashlar. The base of the tower has a high plinth with a chamfered and moulded string-course. A moulded string-course marks the division of the stages and the parapet has a hollow-chamfered string-course with gargoyles at the corners. The parapet has a moulded coping without crenellation; the vice-turret parapet stands a little higher than the main parapet. All string-courses are continuous around the vice-turret and all except that of the parapet are continuous around the buttresses. The tower-arch is two-centred and of two orders; the inner order is wave-moulded and springs from 19th-century corbels; the outer order is chamfered and continues on the E. face of the responds. The vice doorway has a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs with broach stops. In the W. wall, at plinth level, is a window of one light with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs with run-out stops; it probably is a former W. doorway. Above is a modern three-light window in 15th-century style, with vertical tracery in a two-centred head. In the second stage, each face of the tower has a belfry window of two lights with plain two-centred heads below a blind spandrel in a two-centred outer head with a moulded label. In the S. wall, below belfry level, is a small round-headed loop.
Fittings—Bells: three; 2nd with black-letter inscription 'Ave Maria'; others blank. Communion Table: In vestry, with beaded stretchers and turned legs, late 18th century, top modern. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: In W. tower, on N. wall, (1) of Mark Davis, 1832, marble wall-tablet with arms, urn and weeping figure, by Simmonds of Blandford; on S. wall, (2) of Christopher and John Twynihoe, 1767, and others of same family, wall-tablet of variegated marble with white marble wreath surround and urn finial, tablet inscribed at base 'Upjohn, Shaston, Soli Deo Gloria'. Floor-slab: In N. aisle, at W. end, of John Straight, vicar, 1680, Purbeck marble slab with Latin inscription in bold Roman lettering. Plate: includes silver twohandled bowl used as communion cup, with hallmarks of 1764 and inscription 'R. Cobbe, vicar, 1765'.
(2) Turnworth House (81500804), ½ m. N.W. of the church, is two-storied, with walls of ashlar and rendered brickwork, and slated roofs; it was built probably about 1800. The S. front, of ashlar, has a moulded plinth and a crenellated parapet and numerous windows of two, three and five lights with stone mullions and moulded labels with returned stops. The doorway in the E. part of the façade has a moulded four-centred head with carved spandrels. The E. front has details of similar character and, near the centre, a projecting two-storied bay with traceried windows with four-centred heads; the central window has five lights, the lateral ones three. Inside, the entrance vestibule has a window with reset heraldic glass including fragments of a garter and a shield of Wise impaling Froxmer, two 16th-century alliances of the Russells of Swyre. Some rooms have mid 19th-century vaulted plaster ceilings, and doors and door-cases with Gothic tracery panelling. (Demolished.)
(3) Turnworth Farm (81990775), house, 300 yds. N.W. of (1), is two-storied, with walls of banded brick and flint and a tiled roof; it was built about 1830. Of two large early 19th-century Barns, one is dated 1832.
(4) Post Office (82150751), 30 yds. N.E. of (1), is single-storied with dormer-windowed attics and has walls of flint, brick, ashlar fragments and cob, and a thatched roof. It was built about the end of the 18th century and was formerly two tenements.
(5) Ringmoor Cottages (80500859), 1¼ m. N.W. of (1), are a pair of single-storied tenements, with brick walls, partly rendered, and with slated roofs. The cottages are of the mid 19th century and are now in ruins.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(6) Cultivation Remains. A three-field system was in existence early in the 14th century (P.R.O. Assize Roll No. 1368, m. 7). When final enclosure took place in 1805 (D.C.R.O., Map and Award) three open fields still remained, but it is clear that much piecemeal enclosure had already occurred, especially to the W. of the village, with consequent reorganisation of the fields. The traces of former strip cultivation extend over more than 80 acres.
Strip lynchets of the open fields which were still in existence in 1805 are seen N., E. and S.E. of the village. In 'North Field', immediately E. and N. of (3), on 'The Cliff' (822074–817084), the remains of seventeen contour strip lynchets are divided into four furlongs from 120 yds. to 300 yds. long. The strip lynchets of the northernmost furlong overlie 'Celtic' fields (Group (56)); to the N.E. of the southernmost furlong (820079) are thirty flat strips, orientated N.E.–S.W., 8 yds. to 30 yds. wide and bounded by low banks; between the upper four and the lower four strip lynchets of one of the central furlongs (81900807), on a steep slope, are the fragmentary remains of four up-and-down strip lynchets with treads 15 yds. wide and risers 1 ft. high; their W. ends are cut by the lower contour strip lynchets and they clearly represent an earlier furlong, abandoned when the contour strip lynchets were developed. In 'Lower Field', S.E. of the village, are the fragmentary remains of three contour strip lynchets (around 827070) with risers still standing up to 8 ft. high.
Strip lynchets and ridge-and-furrow of former open fields that had been enclosed before 1805 are found W. of the village. In 'The Park' (817079 and 816081) and E. of Brockham (818069), ploughed-out contour strip lynchets run into 'Celtic' fields (Group (56)) on the W.; in Lines Dean Bottom (818076) are two blocks of contour and cross-contour strip lynchets, up to 250 yds. long; to the S. of Lines Dean Bottom (around 816074) 30 acres of ridge-and-furrow, 7 yds. wide, are arranged in five butting furlongs, a typical open field lay-out. The last mentioned has been reploughed into three-yard narrow-rig by splitting each original ridge into two, probably in the 18th or 19th century.
Roman and Prehistoric
(7) Prehistoric or Romano-British Settlement (809085), on Ringmoor, lies between 700 ft. and 800 ft. above O.D. on a broad spur which slopes gently downwards from Bell Hill in the W. to the dry valley N. of the village in the E. The settlement is associated with trackways and with 'Celtic' fields (see Group (55), p. 339).
The top of the spur is largely covered by a layer of Claywith-flints. The settlement site (Plate 192) comprises a small oval enclosure with the entrance on the E. The enclosure measures 150 ft. by 110 ft. internally and is defined by a bank about 12 ft. across and up to 4 ft. high, with an external ditch 10 ft. across and 1 ft. deep. Traces of a second bank outside the ditch occur on the N. and N.E. Occupation features, chiefly in the form of levelled areas, occur within the enclosure, particularly along the W. side and also, in association with a small outwork, on the S. side of the entrance. A track 10 ft. to 15 ft. wide and flanked by low banks or lynchets of 'Celtic' fields runs from W. to E. down the spur, passing along the N. side of the enclosure; it is joined immediately W. of the enclosure by a similar track running up from the S. Towards its S. end the second track enters an open area, widening to the S. and flanked on each side by 'Celtic' fields (cf. settlement at Meriden Wood, Winterborne Houghton (9)); the track runs along the E. side of the area and disappears in a belt of thick scrub, to the S. of which the ground has been levelled by heavy ploughing. Air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1975: 4025–6) show no sign that the track continued further southward, but they clearly indicate a second enclosure immediately W. of the open area; it measures about 200 ft. in diameter and retains traces of interior features.
'Celtic' Fields, see p. 339, Groups (55), (56).