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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'Woolland', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 315-317. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol3/pp315-317 [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section

58 WOOLLAND (7706)

(O.S. 6 ins. ST 70 NE)

Woolland, a small parish of 1,137 acres, lies on the steep N.W. escarpment of the Chalk, its S.E. boundary coinciding with the summit of the escarpment at an altitude of 900 ft. above sea-level. Below the Chalk, at 500 ft. to 600 ft., is a stratum of Gault Clay; further N.W. the land is Kimmeridge Clay, partly covered by an area of Plateau Gravel. Woolland village and the former hamlet of Chitcombe are spring-line settlements at the junction of the Chalk and the Gault Clay. Woolland occurs in Domesday Book (Vol. I, f. 78), with a recorded population of 13.


(1) The Parish Church (of unknown dedication) was entirely rebuilt in 1855 but it incorporates fittings from the previous church.

Fittings—Brass: In S. aisle, from monument of Mary Argenton, 1616 (Plate 40); above, figure of lady at prayer wearing ruff and farthingale; below, on inscription plate (20½ ins. by 13 ins.):

    Here lyeth ovr Landladie, loved of all,
    Whom Mary Argenton last wee did call,
    Bvt formerlie Thornhvll, of Thornhvll she hight
    Yet Sister to Williams of Heringston Knight,
    Bvt Thornhvll did leave her in Ioynctvre most svre
    This Mannor of Wolland whilst lyfe did indvre:
    The Revenew wherof she freelye did spend
    In good hospitalitie vntill her lives end:
    Her prayers to God she never neglected,
    Her life with Infamye never detected.
    Then rest we assvred, throvgh Gods good grace,
    Her sovle in ye Heavens hath taken her place. & died in the yeare of ovr Lord God 1616

Coffin-stools: pair, of oak, early 19th century. Font: Octagonal stone bowl, each face with quatrefoil enclosing leaf boss, underside moulded, 15th century; stem and plinth modern. Monuments: In S. aisle, (1) of Mary Argenton, 1616, see brass. In nave, on S. wall, (2) of Catherine (Feaver) Loftus, 1842, marble tablet surmounted by mourning figures, by E. H. Bailey; (3) of John Feaver, 1788 and others of same family, oval inscription panel of white marble, with arms. In churchyard, ten paces S. of porch, (4) of William Fortun, 1693, table-tomb; two paces E. of foregoing, (5) of Elizabeth Yeatman, table-tomb, 18th century.


(2) The Manor House (77570696), 30 yds. W. of the church, is two-storied, with rubble walls with ashlar dressings, and with tiled roofs. According to Hutchins (IV, 416) the present building is part of a larger house, the rest of which has been demolished; it comprises a straight N.–S. range and appears to be of the 17th century; it has 19th-century additions to W. and S.

The E. front is approximately symmetrical and of three bays. The entrance doorway at the centre is enclosed in a 19th-century porch with a two-centred archway; on either side are 19th-century windows of four and five transomed lights with stone surrounds; in that to the N. the lights have four-centred heads. The first floor has three three-light windows. Near the N.E. corner, a perpendicular joint in the masonry of the E. front shows that the N. wall formerly continued eastwards; to the S. another straight joint shows the original extent of the range. The N. wall has a blocked doorway near the N.E. corner and, on the first floor, a blocked window. The former W. and S. fronts are masked by 19th-century additions. Inside, the blocked doorway in the N. wall is represented by a recess with a heavily moulded stone surround with a four-centred head, continuous jambs and hollow-chamfered plinths. The plinth of the original S. end wall is seen in the kitchen, and the original W. wall is recognisable by its thickness of nearly 3½ ft.

(3) Chitcombe Farm (78480702), house, ½ m. E. of the church is two-storied and has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar dressings, and tiled roofs. It was built about the middle of the 19th century and has a symmetrical W. front of three bays with mullioned and transomed windows, and a central doorway with a moulded four-centred head; the centre bay is gabled. To N. and S. extend short symmetrical wings of one storey.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(4) Settlement Remains (777074), formerly part of Woolland village, lie 50 yds. N.N.E. of (1) and immediately W. of Skinner's Farm. The earthworks are the sites of houses which still existed in 1811 (O.S. 1811), and which were removed when Woolland Park was enlarged in the middle of the 19th century (Hutchins IV, 419); they comprise well-preserved remains of rectangular closes bounded by banks and ditches.

(5) Settlement Remains (783070), of the former hamlet of Chitcombe, lie immediately W. of Chitcombe Farm on the W. side of a small valley. The settlement is first recorded in 1327 (Fägersten, 192) and three buildings remained on the site in 1791 (Map of Woolland, D.C.R.O.; Hutchins IV, 419). The site consists of a hollow-way, T-shaped in plan, 30 ft. wide and 4 ft. to 6 ft. deep, with at least nine closes up to 150 yds. long on either side; the closes are bounded by low banks and scarps.

(6) Cultivation Remains. Nothing is known of the open fields of Woolland; they were certainly enclosed by 1791 (Map of Woolland, D.C.R.O.) and 160 acres of enclosed land is recorded in 1560 (S. & D., N. & Q., vol. 19 (1927–9), 125). About 20 acres of ridge-and-furrow arranged in rectangular furlongs up to 150 yds. long remain in Woolland Park. To N. and E. of the park further traces can be seen on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1974: 1176–80); they are unrelated to the present field boundaries.

On the steep N.W. face of the Chalk scarp (787069), immediately E. of Chitcombe Farm (3), a block of eight contour strip lynchets with risers up to 20 ft. high covers some 15 acres. These and two other strip lynchets in Launch Wood (777066) may be part of the open fields of Chitcombe.

Roman and Prehistoric

Three cross-dykes lie in the S. of the parish on Bulbarrow Hill; two of them straddle the Chalk ridge which extends W. towards Rawlsbury and one of them lies across a spur jutting N.

(7) Cross-dyke (77350607–77490603), runs W.N.W.–E.S.E. at about 700 ft. O.D. across a steep-sided spur that slopes down to the N. and broadens above the present village. The dyke, which faces S. up a sharp rise, is about 160 yds. long. The bank is 30 ft. across and about 3 ft. high; the ditch is 21 ft. wide and 1 ft. deep. To the W. it ends immediately above, or has been cut by, a hollow-way, now the modern road descending the flank of the spur; to the E., diminishing in size, the dyke drops right down the spur side. There are no original gaps. 'Celtic' fields (Group (54), p. 339) lie immediately to the N.W.

(8) Cross-dyke (77400578–77460585), runs S.W.–N.E. at over 800 ft. O.D. across the narrow centre of Bulbarrow Hill. It faces N.W. on nearly level ground and is at least 100 yds. long but has been much damaged. The bank is 12 ft. wide and 2 ft. high; the ditch is 15 ft. wide and less than 1 ft. deep. On the N. the ditch is cut away by a quarry but the bank appears to run out at the shoulder of the ridge above a deep slope; on the S. there are no certain remains to the S. of the road, the area being much disturbed, but the dyke possibly continued on the S.W.-facing slope.

(9) Cross-dyke (77850577–78170555), runs N.W.–S.E.–E.S.E. at 800 ft. O.D., across the ridge from the top of the escarpment on the N., to Delcombe Head on the S. The dyke consists of a ditch between two banks and it was formerly about 440 yds. long, although only the N. end and about 170 yds. leading to the S. end now remain. On the N., the banks are 10 ft. across and 2 ft. high and end at the steep slope of the escarpment; the medial ditch, which is 18 ft. wide and 1 ft. deep, continues down the escarpment for a few yards. On the S., the W. bank is 15 ft. wide and 2½ ft. high, the E. bank is slightly smaller, and the ditch is 20 ft. wide and 2 ft. deep.

'Celtic' Fields, see p. 339, Group (54).

Monuments (10–11), Round Barrows

A sharpened bone of deer 'found in Bullbarrows' (Barrow Diggers, 77) may be from (10), or it may come from Bull Barrow in Holt (see Dorset V).

(10) Bulbarrow (77500574), bowl, lies at about 870 ft. above sea-level near the summit of the Chalk escarpment, here known as Bulbarrow Hill. The centre of the mound has been dug into. Diam. 54 ft., ht. 4 ft.

(11) Bowl (77790545), 445 yds. S.E. of (10), lies on the level top of the escarpment at just under 900 ft. above sea-level. Diam. about 50 ft., ht. 3 ft.