Winterborne Clenston

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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'Winterborne Clenston', An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970), pp. 292-297. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

. "Winterborne Clenston", in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) 292-297. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

. "Winterborne Clenston", An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970). 292-297. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

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(O.S. 6 ins. ST 80 SW)

The parish of Winterborne Clenston, with an area of 1,300 acres entirely on Chalk, extends across the Winterborne valley at altitudes between 250 ft. and 600 ft. above sea-level; it formerly included some 60 acres at North Down, now in Bryanston. Although there is little modern settlement, the earthwork remains indicate that a large part of the valley was occupied at one time or another during the mediaeval period (Plate 214). Within the boundaries of the present parish, an almost continuous line of settlement-remains beside the river appear to represent three separate villages and manors. Philipston, in the N., lay around the present Clenston Farm; Clenston is marked by the present Manor House; Nicholson was sited near and to the S. of St. Nicholas's Church. In 1340 Nicholson and Clenston were still separate parishes (fn. 1) each with its own church; however, the populations must have been much reduced by this date.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Nicholas (Plate 215) stands to the S. of the village, somewhat removed from the area of present habitation. It has walls of banded flint and ashlar with ashlar dressings and it is roofed with stone-slates; the spire is of ashlar. The church was built in 1840 in the Gothic style to the designs of Lewis Vulliamy, replacing a smaller and plainer building which was demolished. The plan is cruciform, with a tower and spire above the W. porch.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (10 ft. by 18 ft.) has an E. window of three lights with cinquefoil ogee heads below vertical tracery, in a casement-moulded two-centred head with a label with foliate stops. The N. and S. walls have no openings. The chancel arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; the outer chamfer is continuous on the responds and the inner order springs from attached shafts with moulded caps and bases. The Nave (38 ft. by 18 ft.) has N. and S. walls each with three lancet windows with cinquefoil cusping in casement-moulded surrounds. The W. wall has a central doorway with a chamfered elliptical head; high up on each side, flanking the W. porch, is a small trefoil-headed lancet. Above the doorway and accessible only by ladder is a two-centred opening through which the upper storeys of the tower are reached. The North and South Transepts (10 ft. by 8½ ft.) are uniform and have N. and S. windows of two cinquefoil-headed lights with central quatrefoils in two-centred heads, with labels as in the E. window. In each W. wall is a doorway with a roll-moulded and casementmoulded two-centred head and continuous jambs. The transepts communicate with the nave through archways with chamfered two-centred heads which die into the responds at the springing.

Winterborne Clenston, the Parish Church of St. Nicholas

The West Porch has a W. doorway with a moulded and casement-moulded two-centred head under an ogee hood-mould with a foliate finial and stops; the jambs are continuous with the head. In the N. and S. walls are single trefoil-headed lights. The Tower rises directly above the porch and is of two stages. The W. side of the lower stage is decorated with a cinquefoil-headed panel in a gabled surround with pinnacled side standards and a fleur-de-lis finial; within the surround is a trophy-of-arms in high relief, probably of Coade stone; the trophy is suggestive of the Eglinton Tournament of 1839 and probably was inspired by that event. The lower stage of the tower has on the N. side a small round window and on the S. side a corresponding stone roundel with the inscription 'M.M. 1840'. At the base of the upper stage is a weathered and hollow-chamfered string-course, above which the wall-faces are slightly set back. Each side of the upper stage has a casement-moulded belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights with a central quatrefoil in a two-centred head. Above is a machicolated cornice with chamfered two-centred arcading on shaped corbels; the cornice supports an octagonal stone spire which rises above weathered spandrels and ends in a shaped finial. The Roofs of the nave and chancel are decorated internally with moulded ribbing, forming square panels.

Fittings—Bell: one, by Thomas Mears, 1840. Chairs: In chancel, two, of oak, with cabriole legs and cane seats and backs; 19th century. Communion rails: octagonal on plan, with two-centred arcading and moulded rails, 19th century. Glass: In tracery of N. window of transept, arms of Queen Victoria, 19th century (Plate 44). Monuments: In N. transept, on W. wall, (1) of Anne Mary Wharton Estridge, 1838, marble tablet by Marshall, Blandford. In S. transept, on S. wall, (2) of Emily (Bingham) Mansell, 1845, scroll-shaped marble tablet with arms, signed 'Marble Works, Esher Street, Westminster'; on W. wall, (3) of Rev. James Michel, 1839, marble tablet in form of open book, with arms, signed 'Patent Works, Westminster'. In nave, reset on N. wall, (4) of Peter Dixon, 1709, oval tablet in scrolled cartouche above gadrooned bracket with winged skull; (5) of the Rev. C. B. Baldock, 1795, stone tablet; reset on S. wall, (6) of John Bartholomew, rector, 1778, oval marble tablet with arms. Plate: includes silver cup and cover-paten, stand-paten and flagon, all of c. 1840.


(2) The Manor House (83880313), ¼ m. N. of the church, is partly of two and partly of three storeys; it has walls of banded flint and ashlar, and of rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with stone-slates. The house is of the early 16th century with 17th-century additions. According to Hutchins (I, 191), part of the building was pulled down in the 18th or 19th century; the lower part of a doorway that has recently been excavated to the S.E. of the main range may represent what was then demolished. An oil painting in the house shows it as it was in 1760, but it is too inexact to show the demolished range clearly.

The house is of considerable architectural interest, with an unusual plan in which the principal rooms were originally those of the upper storey; they were approached by a spiral staircase in a tower projecting from the centre of the main front (cf. Anderson (4)). The E. wing, at right-angles to the main range, is also of the 16th century and presumably contained the original service rooms.

Architectural Description—The W. range (Plate 213) is of two periods; the southern part is of the 16th century and to the N. is a 17th-century addition. The W. front of the 16th-century part is approximately symmetrical and of five bays; at the S.W. corner is a diagonal buttress of two weathered stages (cf. Dorset I, xxviii). The octagonal stair tower projects near the centre; above the first-floor window-heads it has an ogee-moulded string-course and over this the N., W. and S. wall-faces are corbelled out laterally in five and six courses of wave-moulded and double-ogee projections, forming spandrels which eliminate the oblique N.E., N.W. and S.W. sides of the tower, bringing it to a square plan at eaves level; above this the W. side is gabled. On the ground floor of the tower, to the S., is the main doorway, with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs with chamfered stops. On the first floor, above the doorway, is a casement-moulded window of two square-headed lights. The S.W. face of the tower has no openings. The W. face has a single light with a chamfered and hollow-chamfered square-headed surround a little below first-floor level; the N.W. face has a similar light just below the eaves and intersecting the string-course and corbelling, which are mitred around it. In the N. face a square-headed light with a double hollow-chamfered surround occurs at a level somewhat below that of the window in the W. face.

The stair tower occupies the central bay of the original W. front; on each side the lower storey of the W. front has two windows and the upper storey has one window, the latter being set over the outermost ground-floor windows. The ground-floor windows are of three lights with casement-moulded surrounds, hollow-chamfered jambs and mullions, square heads, and moulded labels with head-stops. The windows of the upper storey are of four lights with four-centred heads; in other respects they are similar to those of the ground floor.

The N. extremity of the 16th-century W. range is defined by a quoin of heavy ashlar blocks and by the coping of the former N. gable. The 17th-century extension has a symmetrical W. front of two bays, with a central doorway with a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs; on each side is a double-chamfered square-headed window of three lights with a moulded label with returned stops; similar windows without labels occur on the first floor.

Winterborne Clenston, The Manor House

The gabled S. wall of the 16th-century range has a large projecting chimney-breast of banded flint and ashlar; above eaves level the chimney is weathered to E. and W. and a little higher up its size is again reduced, with a weathered stringcourse on three sides; further weathering occurs still higher, and above the apex of the gable the chimney-stack is of brick. The E. side of the chimney-breast is canted from about 6 ft. above ground level to about the middle of the upper storey, the splay resting on a shaped corbel. To the W. of the chimney-breast, in the lower storey, is a small chamfered loop with a two-centred head; to the E., in the upper storey, is a two-light window with details uniform with those of the first-floor windows of the W. front.

The E. front of the 16th-century range has a two-storied bay window with single lights in the canted sides and with three lights to the E.; it is probably of the late 16th century and it replaces earlier windows on the ground and upper floors, the splayed N. jambs of which are seen internally some 4 ft. to the N. The bay window has square-headed lights with chamfered and hollow-chamfered stone jambs and mullions, except for the outer jambs of the first-floor canted lights which are casementmoulded; these presumably are reused members.

The E. wing is three-storied and has walls of mixed flint and rubble, with ashlar dressings. The windows of the S. side are disposed at random and are of two and three square-headed lights with chamfered or hollow-chamfered surrounds; some of them are modern. Reset in the gabled E. wall, on the second floor, is a large 15th-century window of three square-headed lights, casement-moulded inside and out, with hollow-chamfered and ogee-moulded mullions, jambs and heads.

Winterborne Clenston, The Manor House

Inside, the spiral stairs in the octagonal tower are of stone, with plain steps, slightly chamfered on the forward edges and with a concave offset between each riser and the stone newel (Plate 81). The ground-floor doorway from the tower to the W. range has a moulded four-centred head with continuous jambs and chamfered stops. The 16th-century part of the W. range now contains three rooms, but the division of the original coffered ceilings, which are still in situ, suggest that there were formerly two rooms with a central through-passage. The ceilings extend without interruption over the whole area of the range. At the centre, in correspondence with the presumed through-passage, are two main beams set close together; on either side of the passage the ceiling of each original ground-floor room is divided into four major panels by intersecting main beams and each main panel is sub-divided into four coffers by intersecting subsidiary beams. The main beams, and the wall-plates which surround the two rooms, are decorated with hollow-chamfers and two bands of ogee-mouldings; the subsidiary beams have hollow-chamfers and one ogee-moulding. The beam intersections are decorated with leaf bosses and rosettes of carved plaster, probably of the 19th century. The fireplaces in the N. and S. rooms of the original range, on the ground floor, have modern surrounds. In the E. wall of the N. room, a window of three square-headed lights now opens into a modern passage; in the floor of the same room, about 2 ft. W. of the window, is a well. To the S. of the E. window a 16th-century doorway with a chamfered segmental-pointed head and continuous jambs leads into the former kitchen range; adjacent, at the E. end of the presumed through-passage, is a similar doorway. The ground-floor room of the 17th-century N. extension of the W. range retains no noteworthy features.

On the first floor, the plan of the 16th-century W. range is approximately the same as that of the original ground floor: two rooms separated by a passage. The passage is entered from the spiral stairs through a square-headed doorway with timber jambs and lintel, with ogee and hollow-chamfered mouldings and splayed stops. The passage is flanked by plank-and-muntin partitions containing doorways with chamfered four-centred heads and continuous jambs. A recess in the wall at the E. end of the passage contains a stone socket for a cresset, with a drain for waste grease. The N. and S. chambers now have plain plaster ceilings but some fragments of enriched 17th-century plaster scroll-work, preserved in the house, are said to have come from former ceilings of these rooms. The N. chamber is lined from floor to ceiling with 17th-century oak panelling in five heights with moulded rails and stiles. The fireplace has an ogee-moulded stone surround with a segmental head. In the S. chamber, to the E., is a blocked doorway with a heavy four-centred oak head and jambs; it formerly opened into the E. wing. To the S. of the doorway is the splayed reveal of the window that was blocked up when the bay window was built. In the 16th century the two first-floor rooms evidently had open roofs since the original timbers, still visible in the attics, are clearly intended to be seen from below. The roof is continuous from end to end of the 16th-century W. range and comprises ten collar-beam trusses with cambered collars and chamfered arch-braces; the trusses support heavy chamfered purlins on each side, and a diagonally set ridge-beam. In alternate trusses the collars are set at the level of the lower and upper purlins, so that the arch-braces are alternately low and high. Wind-braces between the purlins occur in three heights; in the two lower heights they are decorated with chamfered and perforated cusping to form cinquefoil arches; between the top purlin and the ridge the wind-braces, similarly cusped, were arranged in groups of four to form quatrefoils.

The spiral stairs in the octagonal tower continue above first-floor level and give access to a through-passage at attic level; it passes between two roof trusses and leads to the second floor of the E. wing.

In 1957 a small excavation to the S. of the 16th-century range exposed the remains of a wall of stone and flint, with a doorway (see plan); the opening had hollow-chamfered and ogeemoulded jambs with shaped stops. Inside the doorway, on the E., three steps led down to a floor of beaten chalk.

An Outbuilding to the N. of the house incorporates late mediaeval walls of banded flint and rubble with ashlar quoins. Inside, in the N. wall, is a small 15th-century recess with a cusped ogee head; reset in the S. wall of the same building is a piscina with a hollow-chamfered trefoil-head, continuous jambs, broach stops and a roughly hollowed-out basin.

Two gate piers to the W. of the house have carved stone Finials with trophies of arms and armour; on the reverse are shields-of-arms of Morton and of Morton impaling Culme. These finials were originally at Milborne St. Andrew Manor House (Oswald, 163) and from there were transferred first to Winterborne Whitechurch (3) and, recently, to Clenston. The impalement of arms records the marriage of Sir John Morton with Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Culme, and the finials may thus be dated approximately to the last quarter of the 17th century.

(3) Barn (83850304), 100 yds. S. of the Manor House, has walls of banded flint and rubble, with ashlar dressings. The roof is covered with modern tiling. The walls of the barn (84 ft. by 29 ft.) are probably of the late 16th century but the roof timbers are of the 15th century; they comprise the greater part of seven hammer-beam trusses (Plate 216). The members are richly moulded and of outstanding quality, but of unknown provenance; they may perhaps come from a monastic building at Milton Abbey.

The plan is of six bays with transeptal N. and S. doorways in the third bay from the W. Externally the walls have a continuous chamfered plinth and the bays are defined by twostage buttresses with weathered offsets; there are no buttresses at the corners. The E. wall has a central ventilation loop with a chamfered square-headed surround; it is flanked by modern windows. The N. wall has a similar loop at the centre of each bay, except where the transeptal bay occurs. The N. transeptal bay has a pitched roof at right-angles to the main roof, and a weather-boarded gable; in the E. wall is a square-headed doorway with a rough timber surround. The main N. doors are hung on oak jambs and above is a rough oak lintel with a raised centre. The S. wall and S. transeptal bay are similar to those on the N., except that the S. transept has a square-headed doorway in the W. as well as in the E. side; both these doorways are blocked with 18th-century brickwork. The W. wall has been restored, using original materials including the central loop; the W. gable is weather-boarded.

Inside, the walls are of clunch with brick repairs. The six bays of the roof are defined by seven trusses, the end trusses rising over the E. and W. walls. Nearly all the members of each truss are decorated with roll-mouldings, ogee-mouldings and hollow-chamfers, as also are the purlins, but the large horizontal hammer-beams are undecorated. The hammer-beams are supported on moulded wall-standards and on curved and moulded braces which spring from shaped stone corbels. The moulded principal rafters rise from the heels of the hammer-beams and are connected at about half height by moulded and cambered collar-beams; the collars are braced from the hammer-beams with curved and moulded braces, forming two-centred arches. The hammer-beams also support moulded uprights which meet the principal rafters at the intersection of the collar-beams. The triangular spaces so formed are bisected by inclined struts, also moulded. Above the collar-beams the principal rafters are braced with small moulded collar-ties near the top (many of them missing), and with small oblique struts to the collars. The seven trusses support purlins at three levels; the lower purlins, just above the hammer-beams, and the middle ones, at the ends of the main collars, are richly moulded; the top purlins are chamfered. Curved wind-braces between the principal rafters and the purlins are unmoulded, and are apparently secondary since mortices for other wind-braces occur elsewhere on the principals.

(4) Cottage, 75 yds. S.W. of the church, is single-storied with dormer-windowed attics and has rendered walls and a thatched roof; it is of the 18th century.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

Winterborne Clenston. (7) Settlement Remains of Philipston

Little is known of any of the three villages, Clenston, Philipston and Nicholson, which together composed the mediaeval settlement of the present parish area. In many documents they are grouped together. Eyton (p. 122) locates two of the Domesday Winterbornes (D.B., I, f. 82a) in the present parish and if this is correct the recorded population was then twenty. By 1333 some desertion must already have taken place for only twelve taxpayers are listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Clenston, and this total certainly includes Philipston and Nicholson. In 1336 the churches and parishes of Clenston and Nicholson were amalgamated (Hutchins I, 193–4), and in 1428 both Clenston and Nicholson were exempt from tax as the population numbered fewer than ten (Feudal Aids, 1284–1431, Vol. II, 97). After this the decline of the three villages continued; only three names were recorded in 1627 (P.R.O., E.179/105/311) and only three households were listed in 1662 (Meekings, 77). Hutchins recorded five houses in 1790 (I, 185).

(5) Settlement Remains (837033) of the former village of Clenston lie on the W. bank of the Winterborne; they comprise four rectangular closes, 50 yds. long and up to 35 yds. wide, bounded by low banks. (Now ploughed out.)

(6) Settlement Remains (838027, 838022 and 839022), part of the former village of Nicholson, lie on both sides of the Winterborne valley to the S.W. and S. of St. Nicholas's Church (Plate 214); they lie in three groups. Some 200 yds. S.W. of the church (838027) are the remains of at least five house-sites; they are rectangular platforms, 45 ft. by about 80 ft., cut back into the valley side, with low indeterminate scarps upon them. S.E. of Oatclose Wood (838022) are a group of seven or eight long closes, 100 yds. to 120 yds. long and 50 yds. wide, divided by low banks; at least five of the closes had rectangular platforms either cut back into the valley sides or slightly raised. All of them have been destroyed by ploughing and are now represented by spreads of flints and sarsen blocks. A hollow-way 30 ft. wide with banks on both sides runs from Oatclose Wood to the Winterborne stream, dividing the group into two parts. On the E. side of the stream, to the W. of Heathy Field Coppice (839022), are the remains of four long closes, probably associated with houses; they are now almost destroyed.

(7) Settlement Remains (836036), formerly part of the village of Philipston, lie on either side of the Winterborne valley around Clenston Farm at about 300 ft. above sea-level. The remains cover some 11½ acres and fall into three groups. The largest, on the steep valley-side W. of the stream (83550385– 83650349), comprises eleven closes running across the contours; they are from 84 yds. to 150 yds. long and from 30 yds. to 33 yds. wide and are bounded by low banks up to 2½ ft. high. The higher parts to the W. are featureless but all the lower parts retain traces of buildings, generally rectangular platforms cut back into the slope. The southernmost close is exceptional; it is 50 yds. wide and below the double scarps which separate the upper from the lower part are two raised platforms, 1½ ft. to 2½ ft. high. On the opposite side of the stream, due S. of Clenston Farm (83700360), another area of land appears to have contained similar closes and house-sites, but the remains are very disturbed. N. of Clenston Farm (83710378) are the remains of a single long close with a rectangular platform at its lower, W. end. (Destroyed, 1966.)

(8) Cultivation Remains. All the open fields in the parish were enclosed by 1777 (Map in D.C.R.O.). Clenston appears to have had a three-field system in 1315 (P.R.O., Assize Roll No. 1368, m. 8) but the date of enclosure is unknown. Remains of these fields lie on both sides of the Winterborne valley (834033 and 840032) and consist of contour strip lynchets with low risers and flat strips, bounded by banks; they are almost all damaged by ploughing.

Nothing is known of the open fields of Nicholson. Remains lie on both sides of the Winterborne valley but all have been damaged by ploughing. W. of the stream (838026) are contour strip lynchets with low risers. On the E. of the stream (840022 and 840028), fragments of massive contour strip lynchets remain.

Of the open fields of Philipston nothing is known. Strip fields that were probably associated with the settlement remain in two places, on either side of the Winterborne valley, around Clenston Farm: in a dry valley N.E. of the farmhouse (838038– 844040) are fragmentary strip lynchets; S.W. of the farmhouse (835034) are two end-on furlongs of contour strip lynchets.


  • 1. Hutchins I, 193.