Stour Provost

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1972.

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'Stour Provost', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North, (London, 1972) pp. 79-84. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins., ST 72 SE, ST 82 SW, ST 81 NW)

Stour Provost is a parish of 2,815 acres, extending E. from the R. Stour which forms its western boundary. The W. part of the area is on Corallian Limestone between 200 ft. and 300 ft. above sea-level, sloping gently down to the Stour. The rest of the parish, mainly on Kimmeridge Clay at about the same altitude, is undulating and well-wooded and is drained by small streams flowing S. and S.E. At the N.E. corner of the parish the land rises steeply to 690 ft. on the wooded Greensand outlier, Duncliffe Hill.

The village stands compactly on the bank of the Stour, and the still existing pattern of long narrow fields shows that the former open fields lay around it, on the Limestone, to N., E. and S. Further E., on the Clay, at Woodville and beyond, a scatter of farms and cottages reflects gradual encroachment on the former waste, a slow and ill-documented process which must have started at least as early as the 13th century (P.R.O., E32/11, m.3). The pattern of the present boundaries suggests that originally there were at least four such areas of encroachment, separated from each other by waste, each comprising a small group of farms surrounded by irregularly shaped fields; although the earliest remaining building (15) is of 17th-century date, occupation is certainly very much older. Later, probably in the 18th century, the remaining waste was enclosed in rectilinear fields. In the late 18th and early 19th century many small cottages were built on the broad verges of the lanes, notably at Stour Row.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Michael stands near the centre of the village. It has walls of rubble, squared rubble and ashlar; the roofs are covered with stoneslates and, in part, with Welsh slates. The Nave and chancel arch are of the early 14th century; a small lancet window in the nave which appears to be more in the style of the 13th century could be a late survival, or perhaps is from an older building. The South Tower is of the 15th century with 17th-century rebuilding of the upper part, and 19th-century repairs. The N. arcade of the nave and the North Aisle are of the early 16th century. The Chancel and the South Porch are of the first half of the 19th century.

Architectural Description—The Chancel has an E. window of three lights with reset 18th-century tracery in a four-centred head; the lights have two-centred heads and the tracery lights have trefoil heads. The rear arch is outlined by a roll moulding and the jambs have attached shafts with moulded caps and bases. In the N. wall is a window of two trefoil-headed lights with a central quatrefoil above; the jambs and mullion are shafted externally and internally; a painted inscription implies that the opening dates from 1845. The S. wall has two lancet windows with shafted and hollow-chamfered jambs and detached rear arch shafts; the shafts have moulded caps and bases and moulded collars at half height. Two stone steps with moulded nosing in front of the communion rail are mediaeval, but reset. The chancel arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders springing from hollow-chamfered imposts; the responds are three-sided and appear to have been partly recut; at the base are shaped and run-out stops. Weathered stonework seen externally, N.E. of the N. respond, is probably part of a rood stair turret.

Stour Provost, the Parish Church of St. Michael

The Nave has, on the N., a four-bay arcade with uniform two-centred arches of 16th-century date. Each arch has two orders, the inner order wave-moulded and the outer order hollow-chamfered. The piers and responds have attached shafts alternating with hollow chamfers, with plain conical capitals and hollow-chamfered bases. The shafted E. respond appears to be formed partly from reused 14th-century stonework with thin courses; the adjacent masonry is probably part of the original N. wall. On the S. side of the nave is the tower arch (see below); adjacent, on the W. and above the porch roof, is a 19th-century window of two pointed lights with a plain spandrel light. The 14th-century S. doorway has a moulded two-centred head with continuous jambs, partly recut, but terminating on the E. in small base mouldings and a crude broach stop; above is a moulded label with returned stops. To the W. of the doorway is a lancet window of 13th-century form, with a chamfered surround, a moulded label, deep internal splays and a segmental rear arch. The W. wall has been extensively rebuilt, but it is probably of 14th-century origin. At the S. corner is a diagonallyset buttress of two weathered stages. A similar buttress, but square-set, strengthens the N.W. corner of the nave and provides abutment for the 16th-century arcade; there is evidence that the buttress is part of a former angle-buttress and the reason for its contrast with the diagonal S.W. buttress is obscure. The 19th-century W. window incorporates reused 14th-century material; the head is segmental-pointed and ovolo-moulded, with continuous jambs; the opening is of three gradated lights with plain two-centred heads, the centre light being slightly wider than those on each side.

In the North Aisle, diagonal buttresses of two weathered stages stand at the N.E. and N.W. corners and two similar buttresses are set square against the N. wall; all walls have hollow-chamfered plinths, that on the N. being stepped to follow the slope of the ground. The lean-to roof joins the N. slope of the nave roof, but is of lower pitch. The E. window has three plain gradated two-centred lights under a four-centred casementmoulded head with continuous jambs; the lights and a label above are of the 19th century, but the surround and the moulded rear arch with continuous jambs are of the 16th century. The three windows of the N. wall are uniform and of three lights; the 19th-century tracery is uniform with that of the E. window and here the surrounds also are of the 19th century although they incorporate 16th-century material; beneath the central window is a blocked N. doorway. The W. window of the N. aisle is similar to that on the E.

The South Tower, of ashlar and coursed rubble, has two stages separated by a weathered and hollow-chamfered string-course. The lower stage, including the string-course, is of the 15th century; the upper stage is of the 17th century, but it incorporates reused 15th-century material. The S. wall was restored in 1854. In the lower stage, the E. wall has a doorway with a chamfered segmental-pointed head and continuous jambs; inside, it has a wide two-centred rear arch. Adjacent, on the N., is the crease of the roof of a former chancel which appears to have been wider than the present structure. In the N. side of the tower is an archway to the nave, now blocked, with a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs; in the blocking is a small doorway with a two-centred head, of uncertain date. The S. wall has a 19th-century window of one light with a two-centred head; above is a square-headed 15th-century window with a moulded surround. The W. wall has no openings in the lower stage. The upper stage of the tower has slender corner pilasters; those on the N.E. and N.W. are divided at half height by moulded strings, the others are plain. In the E. and N. sides are 19th-century belfry windows of one trefoil-headed light; in the S. side is a reset 15th-century window of two trefoil-headed lights with vertical tracery in a casement-moulded two-centred head; in the W. side the belfry window has tracery similar to that on the S., but the surround is of the 17th century and without casement mouldings. At the top is an embattled parapet, with a hollow-chamfered string-course with 15th-century gargoyles to S.E. and S.W., and corner pinnacles with crocketed finials.

The 19th-century South Porch incorporates some mediaeval material. It has an archway with a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs. At the S.W. corner is a square-set weathered buttress. Inside, stone wall-seats are reset on the E. and W. sides.

The Roof of the chancel (Plate 66) incorporates 16th-century material, probably from the N. aisle. The raised central area has moulded wall-plates and intersecting beams, forming four bays, each bay being divided into twelve coffers; the coffers have fretted panels similar to those of the nave roof at Marnhull (Dorset III, 151). The surrounding zone of coffering and the coved wall-plates are of the 19th century, but the fretted panels are original.

Fittings—Bells: four; treble by John Wallis, inscribed 'Love the Lord, IW, 1602'; 2nd inscribed 'Regina celi letare' in black-letter, probably 15th-century; 3rd inscribed 'Ave Maris Stella Dei Mater Alma' in crowned Lombardic letters, 15th century; 4th, with inscription of 1683, recast 1902. Bell-frame, modern, incorporating older members, perhaps 16th or 17th century. Brass: In nave pavement, near chancel steps, plate (9½ ins. square) with inscription of James White, 1694. Chests: of oak, one with tapering ends, shaped feet and three locks, 17th-century; another with panelled front and sides, 18th century. Communion Rails: with Tuscan-column posts and turned balusters, late 18th century; moulded rail and sill modern. Communion Table: of oak, with crude cabriole legs, enriched rails, scrolled brackets and moulded top; late 17th century. Door: In S. doorway, of six panels with beaded borders, c. 1800. Font: of Purbeck stone, with octagonal bowl with two trefoil-headed panels to each face, and octagonal shaft with one trefoil-headed panel to each face and roll-moulded and chamfered capping above, on chamfered octagonal plinth; 15th century. Glass: In N. window of chancel, with two panels of scriptural subjects, 1845.

Monument and Floor-slabs. Monument: In churchyard, 5 paces S. of tower, of Richard Snooke, 1606, Joan his wife, 1607, and William Snooke, 1672, stone table-tomb with moulded top and plinth. Floor-slabs: In chancel, (1) of Humphry Newberry, rector, 1712; (2) of William Wray, rector, 1780.

Plate: Silver cup with conical bowl gadrooned at base, knopped stem and gadrooned foot, no marks, probably 17th century; silver stand-paten and flagon, both of 1844; silver alms-dish with donor's inscription of Susannah Newbary, 1728. Royal Arms: In nave, above chancel arch, lozenge-shaped panel with painted arms, date 1707 and initials A.R.; on surround, Psalm 72, V. I. in black-letter.

(2) Congregational Chapel (81952107), at Stour Row, now a parish hall, has walls of squared rubble with ashlar dressings, and slate-covered roofs; it was built in 1843. The gabled S. front has a doorway with a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs, and a moulded label with returned stops. In the gable above the doorway is a roundel with a quatrefoil panel. Flanking the doorway are two lancet windows with labels as before. The E. and W. walls have each three lancet windows without labels; the N. wall has no openings.


Stour Provost Village

(3)The Rectory (79302168), 165 yds. N.W. of (1), is two-storeyed, with rubble walls and slated roofs. The main range was built c. 1825, but the service range on the N.E. may be a little earlier. The windows are square-headed, with large sliding sashes; the roofs are of low pitch with wide eaves. Inside, the principal rooms have moulded ceiling cornices. The staircase has a scrolled spandrel to each step, plain balusters and a mahogany handrail.

(4) Church House (79352157), some 50 yds. W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and has walls of rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with modern tiles. The house is of the early 17th century with modern additions and restoration.

Stour Provost, Church House

The W. front is of four bays; the two middle bays have a N.—S. roof and the projecting end bays are gabled. The middle bays and the southern bay have a continuous weathered string-course at first-floor level. The northern bay has a small square-headed loop, probably to light a former stair; a similar loop at first-floor level has been blocked, but is seen internally. Adjacent is a large original chimneybreast, to the S. of which, on each floor, is a modern casement window. The second bay contains the front doorway, with a moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs with run-out stops; above, on the first floor, is an original square-headed stone window of three lights with hollow-chamfered surrounds. The third bay has a four-light window on the ground floor and a three-light window above, both with details as described. The southern bay has a four-light ground-floor window, as described, a window of three lights on the first floor and one of two lights in the gable; the first-floor and the gable windows have moulded labels. The S. elevation is gabled, with a chimney-stack on the apex; on the first floor, immediately W. of the chimneybreast, is a stone window of one square-headed light. The E. elevation has a three-light stone window with a label in the lower storey of the third bay, a similar two-light window in the southern bay and, between them, a square-headed loop; the other E. openings are modern. The N. front has no noteworthy features.

The front doorway opens into a through-passage, to the S. of which is a hall with deeply chamfered ceiling beams intersecting to form nine panels; the open fireplace on the N. has a cambered and chamfered timber bressummer and chamfered stone jambs; on the S. side of the room is a reset plank-and-muntin partition with moulded muntins and top rail. The parlour has 17th-century oak panelling, perhaps reset. The kitchen on the N. of the through-passage, now used as a dining-room, has a large open fireplace with a timber bressummer; beside it is a circular recess, probably for a former newel stair. On the first floor, the S. chamber has a fireplace of c. 1600 with a stone surround with a hollow-chamfered and ovolo-moulded four-centred head, continuous jambs and pedestal stops. The chamber over the hall has a stone fireplace with a chamfered four-centred head.

(5) Diamond Farm (79272147), house, 165 yds. S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics and has walls of rubble with ashlar dressings; the roofs are covered with modern tiles. The house is probably of the late 17th century, with modern additions on the W.

The original S. front is of six bays; that on the W. is wider than the others, but the five eastern bays are more or less symmetrical in themselves, comprising a central doorway with two three-light windows on each side of it on the ground floor and, on the first-floor, three similar windows; the first-floor openings do not, however, correspond with those below. All windows are square-headed, with chamfered and hollow-chamfered stone surrounds; immediately over the ground-floor openings is a continuous weathered and hollow-chamfered string-course; the doorway has a four-centred ovolo-moulded head with continuous jambs and an 18th-century timber hood on shaped brackets. The N. elevation has a doorway similar to that on the S.; to the E. is a modern stone three-light window; to the W. is an original window of four lights, as before, with a moulded label with returned stops. The first floor has three original windows of two and of three lights. The gabled E. wall has a large chimneybreast; on the S. side the projection rests on a moulded corbel.

Diamond Farm

Inside, the original ground-floor plan is preserved. The throughpassage is flanked by plank-and-muntin partitions in which the top rails and the edges of each muntin are moulded. The parlour on the E. has a fireplace with a moulded ashlar surround in which the deep, slightly cambered head is formed of three large stones; the mouldings are rounded at the shoulders and continue on the jambs. The hall on the W. of the through-passage has moulded beams, which intersect to form four panels; the fireplace has a moulded timber bressummer and moulded stone jambs, the moulding being continuous and rounded at the corners. On the first floor, two chambers have stone fireplace surrounds with moulded four-centred heads and continuous jambs. In the attics are two fireplace surrounds of similar form; that on the E. bears the initials and date IH 1707, roughly carved.

(6) Manor Farm (79432147), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and slate-covered roofs, is of 17th-century origin, but it was largely rebuilt in the 18th century, and an extension on the W. is of the 19th century. The gabled E. wall of the S. range is original and has a chamfered plinth and a projecting chimney-breast; the rest of the building is later. Inside, the original E. fireplace is blocked by an 18th-century chimneypiece.

(7) Mill House (79102149), of two storeys, has ashlar walls and slated roofs. The N.W. front is symmetrical, with a central doorway and with square-headed sashed windows in both storeys. The adjacent Mill has rubble walls and tiled roofs; to the E. is a two-storeyed Cottage and to the W. is a range of farm buildings, of materials similar to the mill. All these buildings are of the early 19th century.

(8) Cottages (79312156), two adjacent, now combined, are of one storey with attics and have rubble walls and thatched roofs; they date from the 17th century. Inside, two rooms have large open fireplaces with timber bressummers and ovens. There are several chamfered ceiling beams.

(9) Cottage (79242143), of one storey with an attic, has rubble walls and a thatched roof; it is of 17th-century origin with a 19th-century addition on the W. Inside, the two rooms of the class-T plan are divided by an original plank-and-muntin partition. Both open fireplaces are blocked and modern grates have been inserted. On the S. of the W. fireplace is a winding stair.

Monuments (10–14)

Unless otherwise described the following are two-storeyed 18th-century cottages, with rubble walls and thatched roofs.

(10) Cottage (79342155), originally single-storeyed, is now heightened and has a tiled roof.

(11)Cottage (79502148), now two tenements, has 19th-century and modern additions on the W.

(12) Cottage (79342145) has a blocked open fireplace.

(13) Cottage (79332148) has a 19th-century extension on the N.

(14) Cottage (79332150), formerly the Royal Oak Inn, is of early 18th-century origin. The gabled N. and S. end walls contain large open fireplaces, and several rooms have deeply chamfered beams.

Monuments of the late 18th and early 19th century in Stour Provost village include twelve Cottages, generally two-storeyed and with rubble walls and thatched roofs, located as follows— 79342152, 79382152 and 79382151, about 50 yds. S. and S.W. of the church; 79352150, 79352148 and 79362146, about 80 yds. S.W. of the church; 79352144, about 140 yds. S.W. of the church; the Post Office, 79332151, about 80 yds. W. of the church; 79242160, about 170 yds. W. of the church; 79262144, about 200 yds. W. of the church; 79352168 and 79352170, about 150 yds. N. of the church.


(15) Great House Farm (81852066), house, with rubble walls and thatched roofs, comprises an early 17th-century cottage of one storey with an attic, and an 18th-century range added on the S., the resulting plan being T-shaped with the earlier range in the upright of the T. All elevations are asymmetrical, with plain casement windows and doorways. Inside, a ground-floor room of the early range has moulded beams and wall-plates intersecting to form a ceiling of four panels.

Monuments (16–24)

The following farmhouses and isolated cottages, dating from the 17th century, are dispersed around Woodville in the central part of the parish, from ½ m. to 1¼ m. E. of the parish church. Unless described otherwise they are two-storeyed and have rubble walls and thatched roofs.

(16) Lyde Hill Farm (80582168), house, with tiled roofs has the original range adapted to form the service wing at the W. end of a 19th-century house. The latter has a symmetrical N. front of three bays, with a central doorway and uniform square-headed sashed windows; the original range has casement windows. Inside are several chamfered beams.

(17) Cottage (80362143), with a tiled roof, was partly rebuilt in the 18th century.

(18) Shade House Farm (80502116), house, with slate-covered roofs, was rebuilt in 1842 as recorded in an inscription on the N. front; the E., S. and W. elevations, however, retain 17th-century stone windows of two, three and four square-headed lights, some of them with moulded labels. Inside, some rooms retain stop-chamfered beams, perhaps reset. A first-floor room has a stone fireplace surround with an ovolo-moulded four-centred head.

(19) Yeatman's Farm (81312108), house, has the S. front in two bays with a central doorway; a date stone in the western bay is inscribed 'P. G. Tucker, 1805' and probably records the rebuilding of this part of the S. wall. The eastern bay retains a moulded string-course at first-floor level. Inside, the plan is of class T, having a central through-passage with a heated room on each side of it; that on the E. has a large open fireplace with an oven adjacent, also moulded wall-plates and moulded beams forming a ceiling of four panels. A small closet is made of 17th-century panelling with guilloche enrichment.

(20) Cottage (81462097), comprises only one room and an attic. Inside, there is an open fireplace, now blocked, with an oven on one side and a stone vice on the other. The N. wall contains a round-headed alcove.

(21) Cottage (80802062), single-storeyed with attics, has early 18th-century additions on the E.; a fragment of hollow-chamfered string-course in the 18th-century part is presumably reset. Inside, the original part of the cottage has stop-chamfered ceiling beams.

(22) Sweet's Farm (81222068), house, formerly of one storey with dormer-windowed attics, but now of two storeys, retains several casement windows of three square-headed lights with hollow-chamfered stone surrounds and moulded labels. Inside, one room has deep-chamfered beams intersecting to form a four-panel ceiling, and an open fireplace; another room has a stop-chamfered beam.

(23) Good's Farm (81272069), house, with a tiled roof, was heightened and provided with new windows in the 19th century. Inside, a room at the N. end of the range has an open fireplace and a four-panel ceiling with deep-chamfered beams.

(24) Cottages (80392227), two adjacent, with tiled roofs, were originally single-storeyed with attics. Inside, the E. cottage retains chamfered ceiling beams and an open fireplace.

Monuments (25–28)

The following 18th-century buildings occur in the same area as the foregoing group. They all are two-storeyed and have rubble walls.

(25) Vanner's Farm (80392258), house, with tiled roofs, was built in 1798, as attested by a date-stone in the S. gable.

(26) Cottage (80502225), with a thatched roof.

(27) Cottage (80342147), with a thatched roof, is of the late 18th century; it contains an open fireplace and a chamfered beam.

(28) Wadmill Farm (81681979), with a tiled roof, is of c. 1800. The S. front is symmetrical, with a central doorway flanked by three-light casement windows, corresponding windows in the upper storey, and a window of one light over the doorway.

Monuments of the 19th century in Woodville include the School and Schoolmaster's House (80782163), with ashlar walls and tiled roofs, erected in 1850, a Cottage (80842215) with rubble walls and a thatched roof, and a Cottage (80502163) with rubble walls, a tiled roof and a symmetrical S. front of three bays.

Stour Row

Five 17th or early 18th-century farmhouses are situated near the eastern boundary of the parish.

(29) Jolliffe's Farm (83172182), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and slated roofs, is of the late 17th century and retains many original features. The plan is of class T. In the lower storey the E. front has windows of two and of four square-headed lights with ovolo-moulded stone surrounds; above them, a continuous weathered string-course descends to a lower level between each opening, as a label, and similarly follows the outline of the door-head. A stone window, set at mezzanine level on the S. of the doorway, lights the stairs and shows that these remain in their original position. The first-floor windows have moulded wooden surrounds. On the gabled N. wall the string-course continues, but it stops at the N.W. corner. The W. front has casement windows with chamfered wooden surrounds. The S. wall is masked by later buildings.

Jolliffe's Farm

Inside, the hall on the S. has a large open fireplace, now partly filled in, with the remains of an oven on the E. and a small larder on the W.; the ceiling has deeply chamfered beams with moulded stops intersecting to form four panels; the S. wall-plate is chamfered and stopped in correspondence with the N.—S. beam. The middle room, perhaps a buttery, is divided from the N. room by an original plank-and-muntin partition with a moulded head; on the S. a small section of plank-and-muntin work encloses the main staircase. The stairs are modern, but a section of original balustrading remains at the first-floor landing; it has square newel posts with turned, ball-headed finials, stout turned balusters and moulded top and bottom rails. In the parlour on the N., the ceiling has a deeply chamfered beam with splay stops; adjacent to the blocked fireplace is a small newel staircase. The upper storey retains original plank-and-muntin partitions.

(30) Hill Farm (82562140), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and slate-covered roofs, is of the 18th century. The S.E. front is symmetrical and of three bays; at the centre is a square-headed doorway and, on the first floor, a small bull's-eye window; flanking these, each storey has large sashed windows. The plan is of class T.

(31) Yew Tree Farm (82742126), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and tile-covered roofs, is of the early 18th century. It has casement windows of two and three lights with wooden surrounds and leaded glazing. Inside, some rooms have stop-chamfered beams.

(32) Woodville Farm (82792100), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and tiled roofs, is of the early 18th century.

(33) Ruddock's Farm (82822055), house, of two storeys with rubble walls and tiled roofs, is of the early 18th century and resembles (31) in its general characteristics.

Monuments of the 19th century in Stour Row include the following, all with rubble walls and with thatched or slate-covered roofs: Cottage (81852108), originally two tenements; Cottage (81912107); Cottages (81982108), two adjacent; Cottage (82002108); Inn (82032107), with a symmetrical N. front of three bays; Cottage (82082112); Cottage (82132113); Cottages (82152115), two adjacent, possibly of the late 18th century; Cottage (82222114); Cottage (82332119); Cottages (82422125), pair; Cottage (82582142), with a symmetrical ashlar-faced S. front; Cottage (82832157); Cottage (83042166); Cottage (83172173), formerly two tenements, possibly of the late 18th century; Cottage (83302184); Thomas's Farm (83412184), house, built c. 1850 with materials from an earlier building; Cottage (82282094); Cottage (81812147); Cottage (81812162).

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(34) Cultivation Remains. Nothing is known of the open fields of the parish. Some traces of 7-yard ridge-and-furrow occur N.W. of the village, and fields which extend S.E. of the village seem from their shape to comprise enclosed furlongs. It is probable that the mediaeval open fields lay only in the western third of the parish.


(35) Pottery of the late Romano-British period was found in 1950 at 81482107, in an area of Kimmeridge Clay, about 200 ft. above O.D. (Dorset Procs., 72 (1950), 78).