Blandford St. Mary

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1970.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Blandford St. Mary', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central, (London, 1970) pp. 40-46. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins. ST 80 NE, ST 80 SE)

The parish lies S. of Blandford Forum, on the S.W. bank of the R. Stour, and extends over some 2,500 acres, almost entirely on Chalk. It includes the former parish of Littleton which was part of Langton Long Blandford until 1933; Littleton House and farm are all that remain of Littleton village, but many traces of former dwellings occur as earthworks. Thorncombe, in the S.W., was a detached part of Turnworth until the 19th century. In Blandford St. Mary itself there were originally two settlements; Martel in the N. and St. Mary in the S., each with its own open fields. (fn. 1) A large expanse of downland to the W. was not enclosed until 1716, when it became Down Farm, later The Down House estate (see (22)).

The church tower and the Manor House are the principal monuments.

Blandford St. Mary, the Parish Church of St. Mary


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary stands near the centre of the village in the W. part of the parish. In general the masonry is chequered flint and ashlar but the E. wall of the chancel is of banded flint and Greensand; the lower part of the tower is of Heathstone rubble alternating with courses of knapped flint; the quoins are heavy blocks of Greensand and Heathstone. The roofs are partly tiled and partly slated. The West Tower dates from the late 14th century; the Chancel is of the late 15th century but restored. The Nave has no early features. The church was restored and a N. aisle was added in 1711 by Governor Pitt, whose father had been rector, but Pitt's aisle disappeared in 1862 when the present North Aisle and North Transept were built. The South Aisle was built in 1837; originally two iron pillars took the place of the former S. wall of the nave but in 1919 stone columns and pointed arches were substituted. The South Porch was built in 1837 and restored in 1901; the Vestry was built in 1908.

Architectural Description—The Chancel (18½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has diagonal two-stage N.E. and S.E. buttresses with chamfered plinths and weathered offsets. The S. wall contains a blocked doorway with a chamfered two-centred head and, to the W., a late 15th-century square-headed window of two pointed lights without cusps. A corresponding two-light window, probably from the N. side of the chancel, is now in the N. wall of the vestry. The chancel arch was built in 1862.

The Nave (33½ ft. by 18 ft.) retains no visible ancient masonry; the plaster barrel-vault is probably of 1711. The 19th-century South Aisle (13 ft. by 35 ft.) has walls of chequered flint and stone; an old photograph shows that it originally had round-headed windows with brick surrounds but these were replaced by pointed two-light stone openings at the end of the 19th century.

The Tower (7½ ft. by 7 ft.) has four stages, the bottom stage very low and little more than a plinth. Moulded and hollow-chamfered string-courses mark the stages and at the top is an embattled parapet; there are no buttresses. The tower arch is two-centred and of two plain chamfered orders springing from hollow-chamfered abaci, perhaps restored; the responds are chamfered. The W. window, in the second stage, is probably of 14th-century origin although restored and perhaps altered in the 18th century; it has two two-centred lights. An 18th-century doorway with a four-centred head in the S. side of the lowest stage is now blocked. On the N. side, in the third stage, is a small chamfered square-headed loop. The top stage has in each wall a 14th-century single-light belfry window with a chamfered two-centred head and perforated wooden shutters. When the parapet was restored in 1912 traces of former angle pinnacles are said to have been found.

Fittings—Bells: three; treble by W. Purdue, 1660; 2nd, probably 15th century, inscribed 'Ave Maria' in Lombardic capitals; tenor, 15th century, inscribed 'Ac Cam Pana Sanc Diti Cata In Hono Re Marie' (sic) in black-letter. Chests: two; one of oak with panelled front and moulded lid, 18th century; another of cast-iron with panels and date 1813. Coffin-stools: pair, of oak, with trefoil-fretted board legs and turned stretchers, 18th century. Monuments: In S. aisle, reset on S. wall, (1) of Francis Cartwright, 1758, and his wife Ann, 1762, wall-tablet of white and variegated marbles with apron and open pediment on consoles (Plate 119); central inscription tablet with scrolled sides and head and, between tablet and pediment, convex oval, wreathed with laurel; on apron, separated from inscription tablet by gadrooned string, laurel-wreathed emblems of architect's occupation, T-square, dividers, folding-rule and two scrolls of paper showing details of Corinthian capital and façade, probably of Came House (Dorset II, p. 384). Adjacent to foregoing, (2) of Admiral James Brine, 1814, small marble tablet by Marshall. In S. aisle, on W. wall, (3) of Rev. John Pitt, 1672, marble wall-tablet (Plate 119) inscribed '… Hanc Inscriptionem, postquam Hanc Sacram Aedem instauraverat, Ornavit Honoratus Thomas Pitt, Armiger, Defuncti Filius natu Secondus … erexit Monumentum Anno Domini 1712; (4) of John Baskett, 1801, and his wife Rachel, 1779, marble wall monument with arms and urn finial. In tower, on N. wall, (5) of Henry Willis, 1726, and his wife Sara, 1733, marble tablet with sculptured enrichment; (6) of Alice Browne, 1704, and Robert Browne, 1710, tablet similar to (5), with arms; on S. wall, (7) of William Sutton, 1632, slate tablet in moulded stone surround; (8) of John Willis Burrough, 1799, marble tablet with sculptured enrichment. In churchyard, 10 paces S. of chancel, (9) of Admiral Brine, 1814, table-tomb with channelled Greek-key decoration; 8 paces S.W. of tower, (10) of W. North of London, 1821, headstone with mason's emblems; 12 paces S. of S. aisle, (11) of members of the Wheller family, 1731 and later, table-tomb with panelled sides, moulded cornice and shield-of-arms; also four other 18th and early 19th-century table-tombs. Plate: includes silver paten and dish, both hallmarked 1712. Seating: Oak seating in nave incorporates remains of mid or late 18th-century panelled box pews. A detached bench has details similar to those of the coffin-stools.


(2) The Manor House (89090553), some 300 yds. N. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and cellars (Plate 53). The walls are of English-bonded brickwork, with quoins and dressings of ashlar; the roofs are tiled. Apart from service rooms to N.W. and N.E., which are largely of the 19th century, the house comprises work of three main periods. The S.W. range, containing the Drawing Room, staircase and N.W. room, is probably of the first half of the 17th century. At this period there was undoubtedly a wing to the N.E., but its extent is unknown since it was replaced, probably c. 1700, by the present N.E. range, containing the Dining Room. Lastly, the interior was extensively refitted and the staircase was remodelled about the middle of the 18th century.

The house is a pleasing specimen of domestic architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries; the mid 18th-century staircase is perhaps the most notable feature.

The Manor House

The S.E. front of the N.E. range has four bays; at the base is a low brick plinth and above the ground-floor windows is a brick plat-band. The windows are of two and of four lights with chamfered and hollow-chamfered square-headed casements; their flat heads of gauged brickwork have some bricks set forward to represent rustication. One bay contains the front doorway; before it is a single-storied wooden porch with Tuscan pilasters and an elliptical-headed archway. Above, in the brickwork, are traces of the upper storey of an earlier porch; it had a pitched roof and was entered through a doorway in place of the present first-floor window. Set slightly forward from the S.E. front, to the S.W., is the S.E. end wall of the 17th-century S.W. range. The walling is similar to that of the N.E. range except that the plinth has a moulded ashlar capping, there is no plat-band and the original windows have weathered labels with returned stops. On the ground floor is a later french window with a moulded stone architrave and an enriched keystone; the first floor has an original casement window of four square-headed lights and the attic has a similar three-light window. The gable has a moulded coping above rounded kneelers.

The S.W. front is of three bays; the central bay has two-light windows on each floor and the side bays have windows of four lights. The middle ground-floor window is a modern restoration in place of a doorway which was probably inserted in the 19th century. On either side, the moulded stone plinth is returned upwards to accommodate two cellar windows.

The N.W. gabled end of the S.W. range, with a chimney-stack at the apex, is in part masked by a modern addition; it has a mullioned three-light window centrally on the ground floor and a window E. of centre on the first floor, both blocked. The original N.W. wall extends N.E. beyond the gable, and inserted in this part of the wall, above the roof of the addition, is a large 18th-century staircase window; the opening is round-headed, with a brick arch and ashlar imposts and keystone; it has sliding sashes with radial glazing bars in the head. Below, concealed by the addition, the same wall contains a blocked ground-floor window of three mullioned lights.

Inside, the drawing-room, in the S.E. part of the S.W. range, was redecorated in the 18th century. The plaster ceiling has an octagonal field with four marginal panels and four corner roundels. The octagon is outlined by strapwork between cable-moulded borders, the margin panels have leaf enrichment, and the roundels are wreaths of laurel enclosing male and female busts in low relief. The walls are lined with panelling in two heights, the bolection mouldings more pronounced in the upper height than in the dado. At the S.E. end of the room fluted pilasters flank the french window. The fireplace has panelled pilasters supporting a mantelshelf and extending upwards to flank the overmantel; above the mantelshelf they have festoons of fruit and leaves. Within the wooden fire-place surround the remains of an earlier stone surround are seen; the mouldings of the horizontal stone head continue down the jambs and terminate at shaped stops. The N.W. room is lined to the ceiling with 17th-century oak panelling. The corner fireplace has a moulded stone surround with a four-centred head and run-out stops.

The original stairs were probably situated where the 18th-century staircase now rises, in a wing projecting to the N.E. of the S.W. range. In the N.E. wall, near the N. corner, a stone doorway with a chamfered surround and a four-centred head was probably the original entrance to the house; it has a butt-jointed oak plank door studded with nails and hung on wrought-iron strap hinges. In the S.E. side of the staircase hall is a 17th-century round-headed archway with two orders of roll-mouldings rising from moulded imposts, to a plain keystone; the roll-mouldings are repeated in the jambs and terminate on shaped pedestals about 2 ft. above the floor. The archway proves that a 17th-century wing formerly existed in the place of the present dining-room, the S.E. front of which is of c. 1700.

The 18th-century stairs are of oak, with open strings and with foliate scrolls at each step. Three turned balusters of vase and Tuscan-column pattern stand on each tread and support moulded handrails; the newel posts are larger Tuscan columns. The plaster soffit of the first-floor landing is decorated with acanthus sprays, two lozenge-shaped panels and a circular panel containing a shield-of-arms of Foster. The staircase window has a moulded plaster reveal with egg-and-dart ornament culminating in a shell keystone. Above, the walls of the staircase have a rich plaster entablature having a frieze of acanthus scroll-work, human mask medallions and eagles; the cornice has an ovolo moulding enriched with shells, and foliate modillions alternating with flower paterae. Above the cornice, a deep cove rises to a flat ceiling with a square border of strapwork guilloche enclosing a rococo panel of acanthus leaves, shells and volutes; these surround a displayed eagle with laurel branches in its claws (Plate 72).

The dining-room ceiling has a coved plaster cornice with wind-blown acanthus leaves. The fireplace has an eared wooden surround, inside which the inner mouldings of an earlier stone surround are seen. In the service rooms N.W. of the dining-room, the plinths of former outside walls suggest the extent of the early building. On the first floor, the bedroom over the drawing-room is lined to the ceiling with 17th-century oak panelling in four heights with a frieze. The fireplace is flanked by fluted pilasters which continue above the mantelshelf and terminate in Ionic capitals; the overmantel has a central Ionic pilaster flanked by geometric panels. The N.W. bedroom has 17th-century oak panelling. The bedroom above the dining-room has been divided by a secondary partition; the doorway from the staircase is flanked by panelled pilasters capped by scroll consoles with cornices. The fireplace, in the N.E. half of the partitioned room, has a moulded stone surround with splayed stops decorated with fleurs-de-lis.

Outbuildings include a late 18th-century brick Coach-house and Stables, some 50 yds. N.W. of the house, and a slightly earlier brick Barn, the same distance to the N.E.

(3) The Old Rectory (89140535), about 100 yds. N. of the church, is a two-storied building with dormerwindowed attics beneath a tiled roof. The N.E. front is of header-bonded brickwork, the S.W. front is rendered, the S.E. elevation is of Flemish-bonded brickwork and the N.W. elevation is masked by a late addition. The house is nearly square on plan and the roofs have two ridges and an intervening valley. The staircase is dated 1732 and this is probably the date of the whole house, apart from additions to the S.W. front which are probably of the first half of the 19th century, and the N.W. extension which dates from 1870.

The Old Rectory

The N.E. front is symmetrical and of five bays, with a slightly projecting middle bay containing the front doorway (Plate 118). The eaves have a coved plaster and wooden cornice, returned on itself at the ends. The doorway is preceded by a flight of semicircular steps with swept wrought-iron handrails, and is flanked by wooden pilasters supporting elaborate carved consoles in the form of double scrolls decorated with acanthus leaves and scale-work; the consoles support a segmental hood. The moulded architrave of the doorway has eared corners and a keystone; the eight-panel door is of oak. The four ground-floor and five first-floor windows have stone sills with brick aprons, and flat gauged brick heads with triple keystones; the first-floor sashes retain original heavy glazing bars. In the roof are three casement dormer windows with hipped roofs and lead cheeks. The N.W. elevation is masked by the 19th-century wing but an 18th-century lead rainwater head can be seen at the end of the central roof valley; it has a moulded rim and a fluted bowl. The S.E. elevation has no openings and no rainwater outlet from the roof valley. The rendered S.W. front is largely of the 19th century, but it retains the old cornice, similar to that on the N.E. On the ground floor are two 19th-century projecting bays, each with three large sashed windows; in the upper storey the original façade has been rendered and the three sashed windows appear to be contemporary with the projecting bays below.

Inside, the Drawing-room has a reeded ceiling cornice and a fireplace with a moulded architrave with corner roundels, presumably contemporary with the bay windows. The Hall ceiling has a moulded cornice with leaf-and-dart ornament. The staircase is of oak and in two flights, extending only to the first floor. The string is open and the moulded nosing of the treads is returned at the end of each step, the spandrels below being enriched with carved scrolls (Plate 84). The turned balusters are small Tuscan columns above vase-shaped lower sections and the newel posts are larger Tuscan columns. The heavy moulded handrail is continuous, being ramped at the corners; at the foot it finishes in a fist-shaped volute. The wooden fascia of the landing is carved with flower and leaf arabesques surrounding a central medallion in which 'R.W. 1732' is incised, evidently for Robert Willis, rector from 1731 to 1748.

The Stables to the N. of the rectory are built in Flemishbonded brickwork and probably date from the late 18th or early 19th century.

(4) Manor Farm, about 45 yds. N. of the church, is built of stone, brick and flint in two storeys, with dormer-windowed attics in a tiled roof. The main block, dating from the early 18th century, has a S.E. elevation of five bays with a central doorway flanked by sashed windows and five corresponding sashed windows on the first floor. This façade is of banded flint and brick, with a brick plat-band at first-floor level and a plaster eaves cove; much of the lower storey has been refaced with brickwork but some of the original banding survives at the E. end. Contiguous, to the W., is a slightly lower two-storied cottage of uncertain date but presumably later than the main block; it is of mixed brick and flint with brick quoins; further W. it is entirely of brick. The oak staircase in the main block has moulded close strings, turned balusters, moulded handrails and square newel posts.

A Barn, 15 yds. W. of the church, is of banded brick and flint with some weather-boarding and with a tiled roof; it is probably of the late 18th century but it has been much altered and repaired.

(5) Littleton House (89500480) is brick-built in two storeys, with cellars and attics. The main block, dating from late in the 18th century, was built in two stages, the central range being extended to N.E. and S.W. soon after it was built. In the 19th century various additions were made at the N.E. end of the range.

In the symmetrical N.W. front, which has a high proportion of header bricks, the first phase of construction comprising five bays is distinguishable, by perpendicular joints in the brickwork, from the two-bay additions at each end. The whole façade is capped by a light cornice with paterae at intervals in a band of fluting; over it the hipped roof is masked by a parapet, now partly cut away. The central doorway, at the top of a flight of stone steps, has an elliptical fanlight and a flat-roofed porch with two freestanding Ionic columns. All windows are sashed and have elliptical heads with stone impost blocks, keystones and sills. The dormer windows also have elliptical-headed sashes. The S.E. elevation is of English-bonded brickwork and is capped by a dentilled brick cornice and a parapet. The E. part of the S.E. front is hidden by later additions, which incorporate a reset 18th-century elliptical-headed doorway; the original windows are square-headed and sashed; at ground-floor level one opening has been superseded by a late 19th-century bay window.

(6) Cottages, three adjoining, 100 yds. W. of (5), have brick walls and tiled roofs. The plan is L-shaped, there being two tenements in a N.–S. range and a third tenement projecting E. at the S. end of the range. The middle cottage is two-storied with dormer-windowed attics; it was built about the end of the 18th century. The N. cottage, single-storied, and that to the E., two-storied, are of the 19th century; in the latter the N. front is entirely of blue header-bricks with red chaînage. A late 18th or early 19th-century brick granary with staddlestones stands a few paces to the S.

(7) Cottages, pair (89240535), 100 yds. N.E. of (1), are single-storied with attics and have cob walls and thatched roofs; they were built about the middle of the 18th century. Each dwelling has a single ground-floor room and a lean-to scullery at the back. Large fireplaces, set back-to-back, are served by a central chimney-stack. Winding stairs are fitted between the chimney-breasts and the front wall, the spaces on the other side of the fireplaces being filled by ovens. (Demolished.)

(8) Lower Farm, 200 yds. N. of the church, is two-storied with cob walls and thatched roofs. It was built at two periods, a straight vertical joint being visible in the N.W. wall. The N.E. part, which may be of the late 17th century, has lower eaves and floor-levels and smaller casement windows than the later and larger S.W. range. A bedroom in the later part has a bolection-moulded fireplace surround with a moulded mantelshelf; the stairs have serpentine splat balusters.

(9) St. Mary's School (88740568) has walls of banded brick and flint with ashlar dressings, and tiled roofs; it is dated 1846. On plan the two classrooms are set at right-angles to one another to form a T, while the entrance vestibule forms the fourth arm of a cross. The doorways have four-centred heads and the windows have hollow-chamfered stone mullions in square-headed casement-moulded surrounds under hollow-chamfered labels.

(10) Old Ford House (88470592), on the N. side of the Poole road and 70 yds. E. of the junction with the Dorchester road, comprises two parts; the E. part dates from early in the 18th century and the W. part was added about a century later. Externally all walls are rendered. The older and smaller E. range has two storeys with attics under a tiled roof; in the N. front the ground floor has two three-light casement windows with wooden mullions, the first floor has corresponding sashed windows and there is a modern dormer window in the roof. The chimney-stack rises above two open fireplaces set back-toback in the wall which divides the ground floor into two rooms. One fireplace is spanned by a cambered and chamfered bressummer. The 19th-century W. range has large sashed windows in a N. front of three bays.

(11) Brook House (88450588), slightly set back from the S. side of the Poole road, 60 yds. from the Dorchester road junction, is of two storeys with attics and has brick walls and tiled roofs. It was built probably in the second quarter of the 18th century and belongs to Group (i) of the classified house-types (see p. 18). We cannot be sure that this is the house built for his own use by the architect and carver Francis Cartwright (Colvin, Biographical Dictionary, 127), but no other building now found in the parish is more appropriate with regard to size and date.

The symmetrical five-bay N. front is of blue header brickwork with red brick dressings; it has sashed windows with stone lintels with triple keystones, a coved and moulded cornice stopped at each end against the side walls of adjacent buildings, and a central doorway (Plate 69). As usual the doorway is the most elaborate feature; on each side plain wooden pilasters carry carved double scroll consoles, the lower scrolls with scales and the larger upper scrolls with ornate undercut acanthus leaves; these support an open pedimental hood. Inside, the oak stairs have open strings and foliate scrolled spandrels; each tread has two turned balusters, vase-shaped below and with slender Tuscan columns above. The moulded oak handrail is ramped up at the corners and ends at Tuscan-column newel posts. The two main ground-floor rooms have moulded plaster cornices. The fireplace surrounds are of the 19th century.

(12) House, adjacent to the foregoing on the W., is probably of slightly earlier date. The N. front is largely rendered but a small portion of the wall displays banded brick and flint. The doorway, with a flat hood on shaped brackets, has two sashed windows to the E. and one to the W. The first floor has three three-light casement windows, the one to the W. retaining an original wrought-iron frame. Two gabled dormer windows in the tiled roof have two-light casements.

Monuments (13–17)

The angle formed by the Dorchester and Poole roads contains a group of small, rendered and slate-roofed mid 19th-century dwellings, facing N. and W. To the S. of these, a row of late 18th and early 19th-century houses of two storeys with dormer-windowed attics fronts the Dorchester road.

(13) House (88390589) has a symmetrical W. front of Flemish-bonded brickwork in two bays with a central doorway. The ground-floor windows have projecting bays with sashed lights. The doorway has a flat hood on scrolled wooden brackets. On the first floor a sashed window occurs over each ground-floor bay window.

(14) House and Shop, adjacent to the foregoing on the S., has a rendered W. front; the N. end of the façade is defined by a vertical band of rustication. The ground floor has been largely rebuilt. On the W. front the first floor has two small sashed windows and there is a hip-roofed dormer with leaded casements in the roof; the latter is tiled, with stone-slate verges. The single chimney-stack is at the N. end of the house and the winding staircase is placed beside the chimney breast.

(15) The Stour Inn continues the façade and roof of (14). It has a W. front of four bays, with a doorway flanked by bay windows similar to those of (13) and, at the S. end, a subsidiary doorway to a passage leading through to the rear of the building.

(16) Houses (88380586), two adjacent, originally one dwelling, have a rendered W. front set back about 3 ft. behind that of (15). The main part of the building, to the S., has a symmetrical three-bay W. front with sashed bay windows flanking the doorway on the ground floor, and three two-light casement windows above. The doorway has wooden pilasters terminating in scrolled consoles with acanthus foliage and masks; these carry an open-pediment hood. The first-floor windows have moulded wooden architraves, and casements with glazing-bars patterned in hexagons and squares. The N. house has a sashed window and a doorway on the ground floor and one first-floor window, as before.

(17) Range of three cottages (88360576), has walls built in a mixture of knapped flint, brick and rubble, with ashlar quoins and dressings, and a tiled roof. The gabled W. end wall has a central doorway flanked by casement windows on the ground floor, two corresponding windows and a blind central recess lined with brick headers on the first floor, and a casement window in the gable. The S. front is mainly of flint with brick dressings; the N. wall is rendered.

(18) House (88480588) is L-shaped in plan; it has rendered walls and a central brick chimney-stack; the windows are sashed. It is probably of the mid 18th century.

(19) Barn (88770572) is constructed of weather-boarded timber framing on walls about 5 ft. high; the latter are of squared rubble, probably reused and perhaps taken from the church, with some brick and flint. The roof is slate-covered. Large doorways face one another in the N.W. and S.E. side walls, the S.E. doorway being in a projecting bay. The timber superstructure is of the mid 19th century but the plinth walls may be of the 18th century.

(20) Toll House (88040519) is a mid 19th-century dwelling of one storey, with brick walls and slated roofs.

(21) Thorncombe Farm (85970283), house, 2½ m. S.W. of . (1), is two-storied, with cob walls and a modern roof; it was built late in the 18th century. On the S. front the doorway is flanked by modern casement windows and there are three similar windows on the first floor.

(22) Stables (86350455), of The Down House, are singlestoried, with brick walls and tiled roofs. They comprise two ranges joining one another at right-angles. The older range, facing E., dates from the late 18th century and has an arched carriage-way flanked internally to N. and S. by entrances to two blocks of loose-boxes; each block is lit from the E. by a large round-headed window set between two small circular lights and, from the W., by other circular lights. The adjacent range, facing N., is of the early 19th century and contains four coach-houses and a hay-loft. A centrally placed terracotta medallion displays a helm with the crest of Smith. The Down House was destroyed by fire in 1941. It was a two-storied brick building with an E. front of seven bays, the three central bays enriched with pilasters and a pediment (see J. Pouncy, Dorset Photographically Illustrated, vol. 2). It may have incorporated late 18th-century elements, but the greater part was of c. 1820.

Early 19th-century monuments in the village also include Ivy Cottage (88290549), a house (88370579), and cottages at (88610580), (88740573) and (89230512).

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(23) Settlement Remains (892054), formerly part of the village of Blandford St. Mary, occur around the Manor House and immediately E. of Lower Farm. The remains, covering about 20 acres, lie on both sides of a broad hollow-way, 40 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep, running S.E.–N.W. and continuing the line of a lane in the village. Until the 19th century this hollowway was the main road along the S.W. side of the R. Stour (O.S., 1811). S.W. of the hollow-way are at least five rectangular closes, up to 70 yds. long and 50 yds. wide, bounded by low banks, with disturbed areas indicating the sites of former houses at their N.E. ends. N.E. of the hollow-way and N. of the Manor House, numerous small square and rectangular closes are defined by low banks and scarps. The remains are bounded on the N.W. by a shallow valley beyond which lies Monument (24).

(24) Settlement Remains (888057), formerly part of Blandford Martel, lie 400 yds. N.W. of the Manor House on either side of the railway. The remains, covering about 6 acres, consist of at least ten rectangular closes with sides up to 70 yds. long, bounded by low banks, scarps and slight ditches.

(25)Settlement Remains, part of the former village of Littleton, lie immediately E. of (5). The village, which was formerly a separate parish with its own church, had a recorded population of eight in 1086 (D.B. Vol. I., f. 79b). It is not mentioned in the 14th-century Lay Subsidy Rolls, but this is more probably because it was included under Langton Long Blandford than because it was deserted. Rectors continued to be appointed until 1427 (Hutchins I, 167). The remains cover about 12 acres and consist of fifteen rectangular closes, bounded by banks and scarps 1 ft. to 6 ft. high, lying on either side of and between two parallel embanked hollow-ways, 10 yds. wide and 4 ft. deep, orientated S.W.–N.E. There are no definite house-sites, but rectangular platforms 20 ft. by 30 ft. occur in some closes. Ridge-and-furrow 5 yds. to 6 yds. wide is superimposed on the N.E. half of the site and partly obliterates the closes. This part of the site is divided from the better-preserved S.W. half by an irregular but continuous bank and scarp, which cuts across the hollow-ways. Traces of other closes are seen on air photographs immediately S. of Littleton House (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1934: 3160).

Romoan and Prehistoric

(26) Settlement Remains, Romano-British, on high ground some 2 m. W. of Littleton, were noted about 1870 when the downland was converted to arable. Eight pits about 6 ft. deep and 4 ft. in diameter produced finds including pottery, oyster shells, animal bones, two brooches, and coins of Allectus and Constantine II. 'Vestiges of ancient dwellings and inclosures' were observed before ploughing, and it was noted afterwards that 'the discoloration of soil consequent on human occupation extends around for many acres' (Hutchins I, 167). Air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1934: 1092–3) show soil marks of an occupation area on Little Down (856039), with a trackway leading in from the E., and set among 'Celtic' fields (Group 68). Dykes (see below) are probably contemporary with the settlement.

'Celtic' Fields, see p. 345, Group (68).

(27) Cross-dyke (86040460–86040396) runs N.–S. across the top of a W.–E. ridge at over 300 ft. O.D. between Little Down and Fox Ground Down. It is just over 100 yds. long but was probably somewhat longer before ploughing destroyed it at each end; it consists of a medial ditch between two banks with traces of a second ditch on the E. The W. bank is 24 ft. across and 3½ ft. high; the ditch is 12 ft. across and 1 ft. deep; the E. bank is 14 ft. across and 2½ ft. high. The dyke lies some 500 yds. E. of Monument (26) and is probably associated with it.

(28) Dyke (85390353–85690358) runs roughly W.–E. for over 300 yds. across the S. part of Little Down on an E.-facing slope. The W. portion, in Winterborne Clenston, has been destroyed by cultivation; to the E. it survives as a ditch 15 ft. across and 1½ ft. deep; there are no traces of a bank. The dyke appears to be associated with 'Celtic' fields and is possibly related to the settlement (26) which lies 400 yds. to the N.

(29) Dyke ? (86450392–87500372) is aligned W.N.W.–E.S.E. for some 1200 yds. along the axis of a low ridge, S. of Fox Ground Down; it comprises a ditch, up to 20 ft. across and 3 ft. deep, with a low bank along the S. side. The earthwork survives least damaged along the N. edge of New Plantation; cultivation has almost destroyed it E. of the Blandford-Dorchester road and has severely reduced it for some distance W. of this road. It probably was associated with 'Celtic' fields which lie to the N. It appears to have been used as a hollow-way and is shown as a track on O.S., 1811.

At the W. end, the earthwork meets another length of dyke (86440386–86500448) which extends for some 700 yds. from S.—N., across the ridge and down the N. slope, towards the bottom of the combe, S. of The Down House. Much of this dyke lies within woodland; where best preserved it comprises a scarp, 3 ft. high, falling eastwards to a shallow ditch, 4 ft. across.

(30) Inhumation Burials, Romano-British, were found in 1833, ¼ m. S. of Blandford Bridge. Coins of Trajan and of the period from Maximian to Honorius, brooches, tweezers, 'spear-heads', a small glass vessel and a bronze figurine accompanied these burials and others found later (Hutchins I, 178–9; Archaeologia XXV (1834), 676–8).

Monuments (31–38), Round Barrows

Remains of eight barrows are traceable, all heavily ploughed. Nos. (33–8) comprise a compact group near Thorncombe and may represent the group of barrows, allegedly five in number, at least two of which were opened by Henry Durden in 1838. They are described as being on Little Down 'between Blandford and Thorncombe'; one barrow contained a cremation, probably primary, in a globular urn within a cist covered by a flint cairn etc., (Barrow Diggers, 50, 92; C.T.D., Pt. 2, No. 3; Arch. J. CXIX (1962), 57); the other barrow contained an urn surrounded by a circular wall of flints (Barrow Diggers, 50). A 'bucket' urn that was found by Durden in a barrow on Littleton Down may be identical with the second named, or it may have been found in a third barrow (ibid., 91).

(31) Bowl (86110404), on Little Down, on a spur at over 300 ft. O.D., is very heavily ploughed. Diam. 24 ft., ht. 6 ins.

(32) Bowl (86670397), on Fox Ground Down, lies further E. on the same spur as (31). Diam. 35 ft., ht. 1½ ft.

Thorncombe Group comprises six barrows at 300 ft. O.D. on a S.-facing slope near the summit of a broad E.–W. ridge. On air photographs (N.M.R.) all the barrows appear as ring ditches but on the ground only the first four are visible.

(33) Barrow (87280368) is now a low irregular mound about 36 ft. across surrounded by a very shallow ditch some 12 ft. wide; the whole barrow lies in a depression, set into the slope, measuring about 75 ft. across.

(34) Barrow (87290371), 28 yds. N.N.E. of (33), is now visible as a roughly circular, flat-bottomed depression about 75 ft. across and up to 3 ft. deep.

(35) Bowl (87280373), 29 yds. N. of (34), is a flat-topped mound 42 ft. in diameter and 9 ins. high, surrounded by a ditch 10 ft. wide and 1½ ft. deep.

(36) Barrow (87300374), 29 yds. N.E. of (35), is now an irregular hollow 66 ft. across and up to 3 ft. deep.

(37) Barrow (87300370), immediately E. of (34), is visible only on air photographs as a ring-ditch about 30 ft. in diameter.

(38) Barrow (87300372), just N. of (37), is in a similar condition. Diam. about 40 ft.


(39) Enclosure and Ditch, in Thorncombe Bottom, have been completely flattened by cultivation in the past and are identifiable only as soil marks brought to the surface by deep ploughing. They lie at about 250 ft. above O.D. on the S. slope of a low Chalk spur, extending E. and covered with a thin, patchy layer of Clay-with-Flints (see illustration, p. 345).

The enclosure (86550300) is an irregular oval, approximately 200 ft. by 140 ft. and about 3/5 acre in area; it is defined by a ditch 6 ft. to 8 ft. across, with a simple gap entrance on the S.S.E. Air photographs suggest that the bank lay outside the ditch. On the N.E. the enclosure dips into the head of a narrow gully where an oval brown earth patch represents the fill of a depression, probably a 'marl-pit' of relatively recent date. Within the enclosure are two slight E.–W. scarps, possibly lynchets; the lower scarp seems to continue outside the enclosure, suggesting that the enclosure was built over it. No 'finds' or other evidences of occupation are recorded.

The ditch (86420292, centre) comprises a shallow curve of bank and ditch, 550 ft. long, appearing in the plough on the E. side of a modern field hedge running N.–S.; there is no clear indication of it W. of the hedge. It is not known whether it is part of an enclosure or of a longer linear work. Spread chalk indicates that the bank lies on the W. of the ditch.


  • 1. T. F. Almack, A Village Heritage, (Dorchester 1962).