Charlton Marshall

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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'Charlton Marshall', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central( London, 1970), British History Online [accessed 13 July 2024].

'Charlton Marshall', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central( London, 1970), British History Online, accessed July 13, 2024,

"Charlton Marshall". An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 3, Central. (London, 1970), , British History Online. Web. 13 July 2024.

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(O.S. 6 ins. ST 80 SE, ST 90 SW)

Charlton Marshall is a long strip-like parish of about 2,300 acres, rising from the S.W. bank of the R. Stour, at 200 ft., to a maximum altitude of 400 ft. in the S.W. Most of the land is on Chalk and the village is concentrated on a narrow river terrace above the flood plain. There appear to have been three early settlements beside the river, and the extended pattern of the present village reflects this origin. Each settlement had its own strip of land running up to the Chalk and the boundaries of the strips are still marked by continuous hedges. These lands became three manors, (fn. 1) but in 1799 the central manor was the only one to preserve open fields. (fn. 2) On the downs at the S.W. end of the parish large parts of all three manors remained unenclosed until well into the 19th century. (fn. 3) The most important monument is the parish church.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, standing beside the river in the N. part of the village, incorporates the remains of a late 15th-century structure, mainly in the West Tower, but the Chancel, Nave, North Aisle, Organ Chamber and South Porch were rebuilt in 1713. The W. tower is of banded flint and squared Greensand rubble with ashlar dressings. In the 18th-century parts of the church the walls are faced with knapped flint into which are set large rectangular Greensand ashlar blocks. The nave roof is tiled, with wide stone-slate verges; the roof of the S. porch is entirely stone-slated; the tower and N. aisle have flat leaded roofs concealed by parapets.

The interior of the church is a good example of graceful and sensitive 18th-century design. The original fittings, probably from the Bastard workshops at Blandford, are of high quality.

Charlton Marshall, the Parish Church of St. Mary

Architectural Description—Externally, vestiges of a mediaeval chancel are perhaps recognisable in three weathered ashlar three-stage buttresses, two set diagonally at the N.E. and S.E. corners of the present chancel and one, square-set, projecting from the S. wall, 18 ft. from the E. end. Since no internal feature separates the chancel from the nave, the southern buttress has no function and this also suggests that it survives from, or at least represents, a mediaeval building; nevertheless the masonry appears to have been rebuilt in 1713. On the other hand the lower part of the S.W. corner of the nave appears to be of the 15th century. The 18th-century Nave and Chancel (52 ft. by 15½ ft.) have a continuous roof terminating to the E. at a gable of flint and ashlar with an inclined ashlar coping above shaped kneelers. The round-headed E. window has a plainly moulded architrave with a keystone and impost blocks. The S. wall of the nave and chancel has four similar windows, but set at a lower level and without impost blocks; between the eastern pair of windows is a square-headed chancel doorway with a beaded stone architrave. Over the keystone of the most westerly window is an ashlar block with the date 1713 in large Arabic numerals. The South Porch (6½ ft. square) is a low gabled structure with details similar to those of the nave and chancel; the round-headed outer archway has a beaded architrave with imposts and keystone; at the apex of the gable is a prism-shaped stone sundial. The N. wall of the North Aisle (40 ft. by 10½ ft.) and Organ Chamber (11 ft. by 10½ ft.) has masonry and details similar to those of the S. wall of the nave, except that the stone architraves of its five round-headed windows have impost blocks as well as keystones. An ashlar plat-band immediately above the windows is surmounted by a chequered parapet with a moulded coping. At the E. end of the N. wall is a square-headed doorway with an ashlar architrave; the E. and W. walls have no openings.

The West Tower (9 ft. by 10 ft.) is of two stages divided by a weathered string-course. The tower arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders which die into the responds at the springing. In the N. side of the tower, the vice turret is concealed by the W. wall of the N. aisle, except for its weathered stone roof which protrudes above the aisle parapet. The doorway to the vice, a chamfered four-centred opening, was originally set some distance above ground in the inner face of the N. wall, but it has been transferred to the outer face of the same wall and now opens at an upper level in the W. part of the N. aisle. The W. wall of the tower, in the lower stage, extends N. and S. to form two two-stage ashlar buttresses with weathered offsets. The two-centred 15th-century W. window has casement-moulded jambs extending almost down to the ground and thus flanking the W. doorway. The present doorway is an 18th-century square-headed opening flanked by plain pilaster strips and surmounted by a moulded cornice; over it, within the 15th-century window surround, is an 18th-century round-headed window with impost blocks and a triple keystone. In the upper stage, each face of the tower has a square-headed 15th-century belfry window of two two-centred lights with cinquefoil cusping on the W. side and trefoil cusping on the other three sides. On the S. side, below the belfry window, is a one-light opening, partly covered by a clockface. The tower parapet dates from 1713; above a hollow-chamfered weathered string-course the four corners of the parapet wall are shaped to form square pedestals, above which are pyramidal pinnacles with ball finials; between the pedestals each parapet wall is set slightly forward and surmounted by a plain pediment.

Inside, the Nave (Plate 8) opens into the N. aisle through three round-headed stone archways, with moulded and panelled archivolts springing from rectangular piers with panelled sides and moulded cornices and bases; the date 1713 is carved on the keystone of the westernmost arch. At the E. end of the arcade a wider pier, panelled and moulded as before, marks the division between nave and chancel; a cross-arch springing from the N. side of the pier divides the N. aisle from the present organ chamber, perhaps originally a vestry. A single archway, similar to those of the nave, opens from the organ chamber into the chancel. The ceilings of the N. aisle and organ chamber are flat; that of the nave and chancel is a continuous plaster barrel-vault of elliptical cross-section, springing from a coved and moulded wooden cornice. At the W. end the cove returns for a short span on the E. face of the tower and is interrupted to make way for the tower arch. On the E. wall of the chancel the coved cornice returns and is incorporated in the reredos.

The elaborately carved oak reredos occupies the whole E. wall. At the base is a panelled dado with a moulded capping, set forward on each side of the communion table to form pedestals for two fluted Corinthian pilasters with gilded capitals, which flank the E. window. Each capital supports a section of entablature, the cornice of which is a continuation of the coved ceiling cornice; at the arrises the cove is decorated with gilded palm leaves. In an attic storey above the cornice, short scrollfooted pilasters enriched with gilt swags support a pediment with the inscription GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST in the tympanum. On each side, the lunette of the vault-end is filled with a shaped panel in front of which stands a gilded ewer. The pediment and its pilasters enclose the semicircular head of the E. window, the intrados and jambs of which are lined with panelled oak culminating in a keystone with a gilt festoon. The window-sill is masked by a broken pediment, supported at each end on a gilded bracket; the pediment encloses a cartouche of a heart encircled by a crown of thorns, below which is a ribbon inscribed 'The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart'. Under the cartouche is a pair of gilded cherub heads with a carved garland of flowers. Below are two panels with shaped tops and moulded and gilded surrounds, inscribed one with the Lord's Prayer the other with the Creed, in gilt lettering with elaborate flourishes. At a higher level, to right and left of the Corinthian pilasters, are other panels inscribed with the Ten Commandments; these also have gilded cherub heads in the spandrels above them.

Fittings—Bells: four; treble inscribed 'ave gratia', 3rd, inscribed 'ave Maria', both 15th century; others modern. Chest: of oak, with moulded edge to lid, and shaped bottom rail; 18th century. Coffin-stool: with turned legs and carved rails, 17th century. Communion rails: of oak, with moulded and shaped rail, and posts in form of fluted Roman Doric columns, and tapering octagonal balusters (Plate 23); centre bay hinged; 1713. Communion tables: In chancel, of oak, with massive turned legs representing Doric columns, and moulded rails, 17th century. In N. aisle, of oak with tapered octagonal legs, scrolled and shaped diagonal cross-braces, arcaded top rails and moulded edge to board, 18th century; since legs match communionrail balusters this was presumably the original communiontable. Doors: In S. doorway, of oak, with round head and six moulded panels; in porch archway, with shaped top, spiked, and with six fielded panels; both 18th century. Doorcase: In S. doorway of chancel, internal surround with moulded wooden architrave flanked by Ionic half pilasters supporting entablature with gilded acanthus scroll-work and a central bracket; over this rises a tall bow-fronted panel with scrolled cheek-pieces and pediment, inscribed to record donation of communion plate by Catherine Sloper, 1712, and other items. Font: In tower, of Portland stone with octagonal bowl gadrooned at base, on square baluster with Ionic capitals at top and with band of leafwork above bulb (Plate 27); first half of 18th century and closely akin to font at Blandford Forum. Font-cover: of oak, with eight-sided dome surmounted by large pineapple finial, hanging from pulley with gilded metal cherub-head counterweight; 18th century.

Monuments and Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel, on N. wall, (1) of Dr. Charles Sloper, rector of Spetisbury and Charlton (1705–27), wall monument of white and polychrome marbles in form of a Roman-Doric pavilion surmounted by a shield-of-arms; apron decorated with a laurel-wreathed skull; tablet inscribed '. . . At Spetisbury he rebuilt the parsonage house and outhouses, at Charlton the parish church and chancell, wholy at his own expence' (Plate 38). In nave, on S. wall, (2) of Henry Horlock, 1719, and other members of the Horlock family, polychrome marble obelisk-shaped wall-monument with white marble urns and reliefs. In N. aisle, on N. wall, (3) of Margaret Horlock Bastard, 1845, marble tablet by Marshall of Blandford; (4) of Thomas Bastard, 1791, and his wife Jane, 1798, sarcophagus-shaped tablet with obelisk and sculpture, by R. Cooke; (5) of Thomas Street, 1805, and his wife Christian, 1816, oval marble tablet with arms, by Hiscock of Poole. In churchyard, immediately E. of chancel, (6) of Dr. Charles Sloper, 1727, table-tomb surrounded by railings with fluted columnar corner posts, scroll-work and urn finials of wrought iron. Eight paces N.W. of corner of N. aisle, (7) of Elizabeth Horlock, 1729, headstone with fluted pilasters and conventional symbols. Six paces S. of chancel, (8) of Edward Wake, 1680, table-tomb. Close to N. wall (9) and (10) anonymous headstones, 1674, 1678. Floor-slabs: In chancel, (1) of Catherine Sloper, 1712, Purbeck marble slab with fine italic lettering. In N. aisle, (2) of Thomas Bastard, 1791, and Thomas Horlock Bastard, 1849.

Plate: includes silver cup (Plate 43), paten and flagon given by Catherine Sloper, 1712, with hallmarks of 1714, cup and flagon with arms of Sloper; also paten of 1695. Pulpit: of oak, hexagonal, with five sides; each side with two fielded marquetry panels, moulded ledges, and cornice with central console (Plate 47); desk supported on scrolled brackets; oak back-board in two panels flanked by foliate scrolls, lower panel marquetry, upper panel carved with winged cherubs; above, sounding board, with marquetry soffit and carved cornice, surmounted by ogee cupola on pinnacle of which stands gilded pelican-inpiety. Reredos: See architectural description, above, Royal Arms: In nave, over S. doorway, painted panel with shaped, moulded head and scrolled shoulders; arms are those of George I but panel must survive from earlier period since in fourth quarter, beneath those of Hanover, the arms of England impaling Scotland as used by Queen Anne can be discerned. Seating: Eight oak benches of varying length but otherwise uniform, with beaded edges to boards, fretted board legs and turned stretchers; 18th century. Modern oak pews incorporate panelling probably from former box-pews; other panels reset on N. and S. walls. Sundial: On apex of S. porch gable, stone block on moulded pedestal, with iron gnomons; 18th century. Miscellanea: In vestry, pewter chamber-pot, 18th century. In N. aisle, on N. wall, panel of painted wood with moulded frame, and text of Isaiah LVIII, 13, 14, in gilt lettering, with date 1712.


(2) Stocks, reset against the S. wall of the church tower and protected by a modern roof, have renewed timbers but the ironwork is perhaps of the 18th century.

(3) Charlton House, 100 yds. W. of the church, is an early 19th-century building with a symmetrical E. front of three storeys and five bays, with rendered walls and a slated roof. Single-storied two-bay wings extend to either side. The central doorway has a Greek Doric porch with coupled columns.

Monuments (4–10)

Unless otherwise described the following are two-storied dwelling-houses of 18th-century origin.

(4) Cottage (89970413), 100 yds. N.W. of the church, has walls of cob with a brick and flint plinth and is two-storied with an attic under a thatched roof. It probably dates from the second half of the 18th century. The N.E. front is of three bays, with a central doorway, a modern four-light casement window to the S.E., an original two-light casement to the N.W., and three original two-light casements on the first floor. The latter have wrought-iron frames and leaded lights.

(5) Cottage, 10 yds. N.W. of the foregoing, is of one storey with an attic; the walls are of cob, with some banded brick and flint, and the roof is thatched.

(6) House (89950418), has walls of flint with brick bonding, with a little ashlar; the roof is slated. Although entirely modernised externally the house has a through-passage and contains chamfered ceiling-beams and large fireplaces which probably indicate a 17th-century date.

(7) Cottages (89940417), two adjacent, have cob walls and thatched roofs. The cottage to the N.W. has a symmetrical N.E. front of three bays, with a central doorway and sashed windows on the ground floor, and casement windows above; that to the S.E. is of one bay, with a doorway to one side of the ground-floor window.

(8) Charlton Cottage, 30 yds. S. of the foregoing, is of rendered brick in two storeys, with attics under a slated roof. The N.E. range was built c. 1800 but the S.W. part is probably earlier. The doorway, at the N.W. end of the earlier part, is flanked by fluted Doric pilasters with a pedimented entablature. The N.E. front is of three bays, with a central french window with a sashed window above it, and with two-storied bay windows on either side.

(9) Little Manor (89930444), house, of 18th-century origin, has been completely modernised.

(10) Manor Farm (88710315), house, 1 m. S.W. of the church, has a mid 18th-century nucleus with cob walls, and later additions to the E. and N.; the roofs are tiled.

Monuments of the first half of the 19th century include the house at Sparrowbush Farm (87760312), which has rendered walls and a tiled roof and dates from c. 1830. The Working Man's Club House, erected in 1854 (Hutchins III, 525), stands in the village 230 yds. S.E. of the church (90130388).

Roman and Prehistoric

(11) Roman Building and Occupation Debris. Foundations of a 'Roman Villa' are reported (Hutchins III, 522) within ¼ m. of Charlton Barrow (904033); finds from the site included samian and coarse ware, two Kimmeridge shale 'amulets' and bronze brooches.

Numerous coins from allotments in the parish included bronze autonomous Greek coins of the 2nd century B.C. (J. G. Milne, Finds of Greek Coins in the British Isles (1948), 18f., 24; H. S. L. Dewar (ed.), The Thomas Rackett Papers (1965), 72–3, 86–7).

Combs Ditch (see Winterborne Whitechurch (19)) forms the S.W. boundary of the parish.

'Celtic' Fields, see p. 345, Group (67).

Monuments (12–20), Round Barrows

Nine barrows in the S.W. of the parish form part of a barrow scatter that is continued in the adjacent parishes of Winterborne Whitechurch and Winterborne Kingston; they lie between 250 ft. and 400 ft. O.D., on the E.-facing slopes of the Chalk downland between the valleys of the Stour and the Winterborne; all have been heavily ploughed. Three barrows on Charlton Down were opened by H. White in 1811 (Warne C.T.D., Pt. 3, Nos. 48, 49 and 50; Hutchins III, 525); one contained, near the surface, an inhumation, probably intrusive, with the feet to the E.; the second contained a cremation in an urn; the third contained a primary cremation in a globular urn set in a circular cist 2 ft. deep and 1½ ft. wide, cut into the chalk beneath (Barrow Diggers, 91–2 and Pl. 8; Arch. J. CXIX (1962), 57). A skull (Barrow Diggers, 81–2 and Pl. 6) may be that of the skeleton found by White, or from a further barrow as suggested by Hutchins. The nine barrows are as follows—

(12) Bowl (86830082), on Charlton Down, 60 yds. N. of Combs Ditch; diam. 40 ft., ht. 1 ft.

(13) Bowl (87170083), on Charlton Down; top of mound disturbed by N.-S. trench; diam. of mound 40 ft., ht. 4½ ft., ditch 6 ft. across and 1½ ft. deep.

(14) Bowl (85960185), N.W. of Charisworth; diam. 50 ft., ht. 1 ft.

(15) Bowl (86020180), 80 yds. S.E. of (14); diam. 48 ft., ht. 1 ft.

(16) Bowl (86300251), just N. of the Blandford-Dorchester road; diam. 50 ft., ht. 1 ft.

(17) Bowl (86320249), 25 yds. S.E. of (16); diam. 42 ft., ht. 1½ft.

(18) Bowl (87480202), 500 yds. N. of Holly Brake at 300 ft. O.D. on a spur sloping N.E.; much ploughed; diam. 57 ft., ht. 1½ ft.

(19) Bowl (87660206), 200 yds. E.N.E. of (18) and at a lower level on the same spur; almost completely destroyed by ploughing.

(20) Bowl (87790217), 185 yds. N.E. of (19) and in similar condition.


  • 1. Hutchins III, 522.
  • 2. Enclosure award, 1800, D.C.R.O. Survey of the Horlock Estate, 1726, D.C.R.O.
  • 3. O.S., 1811; also Hutchins III, 526.