Winterborne Zelston

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 Zelston', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 314-315. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. SY 89 NE, SY 99 NW)

This parish, roughly triangular in plan and 848 acres in area, lies on Chalk and River Gravel, in the Winterborne valley, between 130 ft. and 300 ft. above sealevel. In Domesday Book it cannot be distinguished among the many 'Winterborne' entries. Huish, in the E., is mentioned early in the 14th century; it probably was always a small settlement, as its name implies. (fn. 1) Nothing is known of the mediaeval open fields.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary stands on the E. side of the village. The walls are mainly of banded flint and Heathstone rubble, with ashlar dressings. The West Tower was built in the 15th century. The Chancel, Nave, North Aisle and South Vestry were rebuilt in 1866 but they incorporate reused mediaeval material.

Architectural Description—Reset in the N. wall of the Chancel are two 13th-century windows; that to the E. is of one lancet light and that to the W. is of two pointed lights with a central roundel. Reset in the S. wall of the Vestry is a 14th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and a two-centred head. Reset in the N. wall of the Nave is a square-headed early 16th-century window of three elliptical-headed lights with blind spandrels; the S. wall has a reset square-headed 15th-century window of two cinquefoil-headed lights, with a label; reset in the W. wall of the North Aisle is a two-light 16th-century window similar to that in the N. wall of the nave.

The West Tower (7 ft. by 7½ ft.) is of three stages; it has a chamfered, weathered and roll-moulded plinth, two weathered intermediate string-courses and a moulded parapet string-course with a gargoyle on the W. The plinth and string-courses continue on the octagonal N.E. vice turret. The embattled parapet has a continuous moulded coping. The tower arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders above chamfered responds with moulded imposts. The W. window has two trefoil-headed lights under a square label with returned stops. A chamfered square-headed loop occurs in the S. side of the second stage. The E., S. and W. sides of the top stage have belfry windows of one two-centred light under horizontal hood-moulds.

Fittings—Bells: four; 1st inscribed 'Anno Domini 1640 IH IR WP'; 2nd inscribed 'James Wells Aldbourn Wilts fecit 1815'; 3rd inscribed 'Ave Mario . . . iov' in Lombardic lettering, probably 15th century; 4th recast 1905. Coffin-stool: with turned legs, late 17th century. Communion Table: In vestry, of oak with moulded rails, spiral legs moulded at top and bottom, moulded stretchers and ball feet, one stretcher missing; 17th century. Monuments: In churchyard, 6 paces S.W. of tower, (1) of Richard Fry, 1706, headstone; adjacent, (2) of John Fry, 1706, headstone. Niche: In nave, in W. wall, N. of tower arch, recess with chamfered two-centred head. Plate: includes silver cup of 1576 with maker's mark M, also silver stand-paten of 1698 with gadrooning on rim and foot. Miscellanea: In churchyard, slab of Purbeck stone pierced with six pointed 'lights' in two tiers, perhaps 16th century.


(2) The Old Rectory (89809773), 100 yds. N.W. of (1), is two storied and has rendered walls, mainly of cob, and modern slated roofs. The exterior was remodelled in the 19th century but the interior retains 17th and 18th-century features.

The Old Rectory

Inside, on the ground floor, the room at the W. end of the range has deep chamfered ceiling beams resting on moulded stone corbels. The fireplace has a moulded stone surround. At the N.E. corner of the room is a narrow squint window. The stairs in the adjacent passage are of the 17th century and have close strings, square newel posts with ball finials, moulded handrails and heavy turned balusters. The partition between the stair passage and the adjacent room on the E. is of original timber-framing; the passage on the N. side of the same room is modern. The fireplace in this room has a chamfered wooden surround with a raised head; the ceiling beams are deeply chamfered; the walls are lined with 18th-century panelling in two heights. The E. staircase retains splat-balusters that are probably of the early 17th century. The kitchen, to the E., has two cased ceiling beams and a large open fireplace with a timber bressummer. On the first floor, the W. room has a 17th-century fireplace with a moulded stone surround.

(3) Winterborne Zelston House (89859777), 100 yds. N. of (1), is of two storeys with cellars and attics and has brick walls with ashlar dressings, and tiled and slated roofs. The main S. range, of the early 19th century, masks an L-shaped N. range that dates from the 18th century. The 19th-century S. front is symmetrical and of five bays, with a central doorway in a recess with four stone pilasters with moulded capitals; above is a recessed balcony with slender cast-iron trellis-work railings; the windows of the lateral bays of the S. front are sashed. The 18th-century N. elevation has cast-iron casement windows with segmental brick heads.

(4) Cottage (89859760), 100 yds. S.W. of (1), is single-storied with an attic and has cob walls and a thatched roof; it is of the 17th century. On the ground floor are two rooms; that to the S.W. has a fireplace and a chimney-stack on the gable wall; the other room is unheated.

(5) Cottage (89899739), 330 yds. S. of (1), is of similar materials to (4) and is also of the 17th century. Inside are several stop-chamfered beams.

(6) Cottage (90629774), at Huish, has similar characteristics to the foregoing except that the gabled S. wall is of brick.

(7) Bridge Cottage (89889765), 60 yds. S.W. of (1), is single-storied with attics and has cob walls and a thatched roof; the building was originally a range of three cottages but it has now become a single dwelling. The range probably dates from about the middle of the 18th century. Inside, several rooms retain stop-chamfered beams and one open fireplace has a bread oven beside it.

Early 19th-century monuments in the parish include—Huish (90519787), house, of two storeys with attics, with brick walls and slated roofs; Willow Farm (89689734), house, with brick walls and a thatched roof; Middle Farm (89809770), house, formerly a pair of cottages, with rendered walls and a thatched roof.


  • 1. Fägersten, 73.