Sutton Waldron

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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'Sutton Waldron', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North( London, 1972), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Sutton Waldron', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North( London, 1972), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

"Sutton Waldron". An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 4, North. (London, 1972), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

In this section


(O.S. 6 ins., ST 81 NE, ST 81 NW)

The parish consists of a narrow strip of land, some 1,300 acres in extent, straddling the Chalk escarpment. The W. part, on Kimmeridge Clay, Lower Greensand and Gault Clay, lies between 180 ft. and 300 ft. above sea-level and is drained by the southward flowing Fontmell Brook. Eastwards the ground rises gently at first on Upper Greensand, and then steeply on the Chalk, to the crest of the escarpment at 650 ft.; beyond the crest it slopes down gently to about 400 ft. The village stands at the foot of the escarpment, on the Upper Greensand.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Bartholomew (Plate 63), in the S. of the village, was built in 1847 to the design of George Alexander and has walls of flint and squared rubble with ashlar dressings, and tiled roofs; the W. tower is partly rendered and partly of ashlar; the spire is of ashlar. A drawing of the former church, preserved in the D.C.R.O., shows a chancel, a nave and a low west tower.

Architectural Description—The Chancel windows have two-centred heads with curvilinear tracery above trefoil-headed lights, except the central E. light which is cinquefoil-headed; the two-centred and moulded rear-arches spring from shafted jambs; the windows have moulded labels internally and externally, with foliate stops. The archway to the vestry has a two-centred head of two chamfered orders and a label with foliate stops. A squint from the S. aisle opens in the back of a sedile. The chancel arch is two-centred and of three moulded orders, continuous on the responds, with the inner order ending on octagonal bases; above are E. and W. moulded labels with foliate stops.

The Vestry has square-headed windows with moulded labels and trefoil ogee-headed lights; that on the N. has quatrefoil tracery. In the N. gable is a trefoil loop. The apex of the gable has a polygonal traceried pinnacle with a crocketed finial.

The Nave has N. windows similar to the S. window of the chancel, with curvilinear tracery of differing design; internally, moulded labels continue as a string-course. The S. arcade has two-centred arches of three moulded orders, with labels as on the chancel arch; the octagonal piers have moulded caps and bases.

In the South Aisle the windows are as in the nave. The S. doorway has a moulded two-centred head with continuous jambs, and a chamfered segmental rear-arch of three orders.

The West Tower is of three stages, with a moulded plinth and weathered and moulded string-courses; on the W. side the two lower stages are merged in one. Each corner has a diagonal buttress, those on the E. occurring above the level of the nave roof, those on the W. having four weathered stages; at the top, each buttress has a gargoyle and a pinnacle with a crocketed finial; the pinnacles support flying buttresses to the spire, with trefoil-headed tracery in the spandrels. The octagonal spire, with roll-moulded arrises, rises from a base in the form of an embattled parapet; each face of the spire is pierced by quatrefoil loops at two levels; the apex has a metal shaft with a weather-vane. The tower arch is two-centred and of three moulded orders, as in the chancel arch. The W. window has four ogee-headed lights set in pairs on each side of a stout centre mullion, and geometrical tracery in a two-centred head. The rear-arch is similar to those in the chancel. A length of moulded string-course with two head-stops below the window-sill is perhaps of 14th-century origin. Above is a small window with a trefoil-headed light. The vice has a chamfered ogee-headed doorway and two trefoil-headed loops; it is capped with weathered stonework at the foot of the upper stage. In the upper stage each side of the tower has a belfry window of two trefoil ogee-headed lights with curvi-linear tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label.

Sutton Waldron, the Parish Church of St. Bartholomew. 1847

The South Porch has an archway of two-moulded orders with continuous jambs and moulded labels outside and inside; the inside label has reset 14th-century head-stops.

The Roofs in the chancel, nave and S. aisle have arch-braced principals resting on stone corbels; in the chancel the roof is painted.

Fittings (of 1847, unless otherwise stated)—Bells: two, by Mears. Chest: of oak, with plain lid, panelled sides and front richly carved (Plate 22), mid 17th century. Coffin-stools: two, with beaded tops, turned legs and plain stretchers, 17th century. Communion Rails: of stone, with moulded top and bottom members and with trefoil tracery; gate similar, of wood. Communion Table: in vestry, with plain top, moulded rails and turned legs; 17th century. Font: of stone, octagonal, with moulded bowl and stem; cover, of oak, pyramidal, with pierced sides and crocketed angles. Glass: In chancel windows, by Hudson & Powell (Builder, 27 Nov. 1847, 565). Lectern: of stone, with trefoil-headed arcading and moulded coping. Niche: In chancel, on N., with trefoil ogee head; in nave, on N., with cinquefoil two-centred head and shafted jambs. Painting: on nave arcade and chancel arch; stencilled decoration. Plate: includes Elizabethan silver cup by the anonymous 'Gillingham' silversmith (see p. xxxiv) with later inscription 'JA, CW, 82'; cover-paten with inscription of 1793; also chalice, paten and flagon, dated 1847. Pulpit: of stone, with carved panels and moulded top. Sedilia: with cinquefoil two-centred arches, on shafted responds and shafts with moulded caps and bases; square label with ball-flower stops. Tiles: on floor of chancel and nave, with geometrical patterns. Miscellaneous: In belfry, reset in E. wall, mediaeval carving with heart, hands and entrails, probably monument of a heart-burial; heart subsequently cut to represent grotesque face.


(2) Sutton Waldron House (86291595), of two storeys, with rendered walls and low-pitched slate-covered roofs, is of the first half of the 19th century.

(3) Almshouses (86201600), range of eight, have brick walls and tiled roofs and were built in 1830. The range is symmetrical, comprising four two-storeyed dwellings in the middle and two single-storeyed dwellings at each end. The doorways have segmental-pointed heads; the windows have plain wooden casements, those of the two-storeyed houses having ornamental labels. The sides of the chimneystacks have round-headed recesses.

(4) Cottage (86441591), single-storeyed with an attic, has rubble walls with flint banding and brick quoins, and a thatched roof; it is of the 17th century. Inside, there are several chamfered beams and an open fireplace with a chamfered bressummer. The plan is of class J.

(5) Stables (89281565), belonging to West Lodge (see Iwerne Minster (3)), are of one and of two storeys with lofts and have brick walls and tiled roofs; they are of the early 19th century with modern additions and alterations.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(6) Cultivation Remains. A map of the parish of c. 1776 (copy in D.C.R.O.) shows the remains of the open fields on the E. of the village; they were named North, Whiteway, East and Ledge Fields. Contour strip lynchets, formerly in Ledge Field, remain on the S.E. slope of Combe Bottom (874158). Traces of strip fields on the W. of the parish church (858157) are in an area enclosed before c. 1770 (Map of Sutton Waldron Farm, D.C.R.O.; Dorset Procs., 64 (1942), 75–83).


(7) Enclosure (876161), on the steep S.E. declivity of Combe Bottom, about 500 ft. above sea-level, is nearly square and has sides 35 yds. long, each with a low bank and a shallow internal ditch. No entrance is visible. The interior is featureless, apart from disturbance, probably recent, at the lower, W. end, which appears partly to have destroyed a platform cut into the slope. The earthwork is called 'Satan's Square'; in the 18th century it was called 'The Devil's Trencher and Spoon' (Map by I. Taylor, 1765–7, photo-copy in D.C.R.O.).


(O.S. 6 ins., ST 90 sw)

This parish, 543 acres in extent and roughly square in outline, occupies the valley of the R. Tarrant at its confluence with the R. Stour, the latter forming the S.W. boundary. The land is entirely Chalk, between 80 ft. and 200 ft. above sea-level. Early settlement is likely to have been near the parish church, in the N. of the parish, but no trace of it is found today; the present village, some ½ m. to the S., includes part of a late mediaeval wayside cross and evidence of deserted house-sites and closes. The distance between church and village suggests intentional removal of the settlement at some time, perhaps in connection with the development of the mediaeval abbey, or with the disposal of its property at the Dissolution.

Tarrant Crawford Abbey originated at the end of the 12th century (V.C.H., Dorset, ii, 87–90) as a small community of nuns; by 1233 the convent had adopted the Cistercian rule. In 1237 Bishop Poore of Salisbury was buried there and in the following year Henry III's sister, Queen Joan of Scotland, also was buried there; by the end of the 13th century Tarrant was one of the richest Cistercian nunneries in England. (fn. 1) There is little doubt that there was a convent church in addition to the small parish church which survives, and that the tombs of the Bishop and of the Queen were in it, but nothing is visible today; it was built between 1240 and 1246 (Cal. Lib. Rolls, Hen. III, iii (1245–51), 62, 69). Most of the abbey buildings appear to have been demolished at the Dissolution; a few late mediaeval buildings which stand some 200 yds. to 300 yds. W. and S.W. of the parish church (Plate 34), include farm buildings and part of a dwelling of uncertain use (3–5). A disturbed area of scarps and banks (8) could be the site of the abbey church.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, in the N. of the parish, has walls of flint and of rubble, in part rendered, with dressings of Greensand and of Heathstone ashlar; the roof covering is of tile and stoneslate. The Chancel is of 12th-century origin, with windows enlarged in the 13th century (Plate 68). The Nave is of the 13th century and its walls retain 14th-century painted decorations, including scenes from the life of St. Margaret of Antioch (Plates 67–9). The absence of windows in much of the S. wall suggests that a building formerly adjoined the nave on this side, perhaps part of the former nunnery. The North Porch is of the second half of the 15th century. The West Tower appears to be of the 16th century, perhaps c. 1508 (Hutchins III, 122), and the nave roof is of about the same period.

Tarrant Crawford, the Parish Church of St. Mary

Architectural Description—In the Chancel the remains of a 12th-century pilaster buttress are found at the N.E. corner. The E. window is of the 13th century and comprises three gradated, trefoil-headed lights in a chamfered two-centred head, with a chamfered segmental-pointed rear arch. Above springing-level of the window head the E. wall has been rebuilt and is thinner than below. The N. wall of the chancel has two uniform 13th-century windows, each with two trefoil-headed lights; that on the E. is set at a higher level than the other. The eastern window of the S. wall is uniform with those on the N. Further W. in the S. wall is a blocked doorway of 12th-century origin, rebuilt externally and provided with a two-centred head; at the base of the W. jamb is an original moulded impost block, inverted; the rear arch is semicircular. Adjacent is a 13th-century window of one trefoil-headed light. There is no chancel arch.

The Nave has, near the E. end of the N. wall, a late 15th-century window of three trefoil-headed lights in a square-headed surround; adjacent is a 13th-century two-light window uniform with those of the chancel. The N. doorway has a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs; adjacent on the W. is a late 15th or early 16th-century window of two trefoil-headed lights with a square label. Near the E. end of the S. wall is a two-light 13th-century window, uniform with those described. The late 13th-century S. doorway, now blocked, has a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs with run-out stops; the rear arch is a flat stone lintel, shaped on the upper surface and evidently reused since a scratch-dial occurs on the N. face.

The West Tower is of two stages, with a chamfered plinth, a weathered string-course and an embattled parapet. The tower arch is two-centred and of one chamfered order dying into plain responds. The W. window is of c. 1300 and reset; it has two trefoil-headed lights and a plain central tracery light in a two-centred head. In the upper stage of the tower a quatrefoil loop occurs in the E. wall; a similar loop is in the lower part of the N. wall and above it is a belfry window of two trefoil-headed lights in a square-headed surround, with a label with square stops. Similar belfry windows occur in the S. and W. sides.

The North Porch has an archway with a two-centred head of two chamfered orders dying into plain responds. In the W. wall is a chamfered square-headed loop.

The Roof of the nave is of arch-braced trussed rafters, with chamfered wall-plates, and chamfered longitudinal members forming a wagon roof; the former plaster ceiling has been removed and the rafters are exposed.

Fittings—Bells: three; 1st inscribed 'regina celiletare' in black-letter, mediaeval; 2nd with 'God be our guyd IW 1589'; 3rd with 'sancte Petre' in Lombardic letters, mediaeval, probably from Salisbury foundry. Bracket: in nave, on S. wall, plain, hollow-chamfered underneath. Brass and Indent. Brass: (6½ ins. by 3 ins.) discovered near church in 1862, with black-letter inscription of Joh(ann)es Karrant, late 15th century. Indent: (19 ins. wide) in Purbeck marble floor-slab, upper part hidden by chancel step. Chest: of cast iron, with panelled decoration, inscribed 'WH, Bramshaw Foundry, 1813'. Coffin-lids: Reset (Dorset Procs., 39 (1918), 109) in chancel, on N., (1) of Purbeck marble, with double hollow-chamfered border and foliate cross in relief, 13th century; on S., (2) similar to foregoing, but upper surface eroded and cross gone; further W., (3) of Purbeck marble with lightly incised base and stem of cross, upper part missing, early 14th century. In nave, near E. end, (4) of Purbeck marble, much worn, mediaeval; reset as S. window-sill, (5) similar to (3), 14th century. In churchyard, N. of church, reused as headstone, (6) of limestone, with incised cross, perhaps 14th century. Coffin-stools: three, of oak with turned legs, 17th century. Communion rails: of oak, with turned balusters and moulded capping, late 17th century. Font: comprising plain square bowl of Purbeck stone, with holes for lock, on tapered and hollow-chamfered Greensand capping to square Greensand pedestal with chamfered angles, 16th-century, plinth modern. Font-cover: of oak, pyramidal, with panelled sides, 16th century; finial and base modern. Glass: in N.E. nave window, crowns and foliage, 15th century; one quarry with glazier's inscription of 1806.

Paintings: In chancel, in E. reveal of N.E. window, fragments of drapery, a hand, ashlar ruling; on S., ashlar ruling and cinquefoils in red, c. 1300. In nave, on N. wall, at E. end, part of robed figure in red on yellow, with red margin, early 14th century; E. of N. doorway, panel containing three figures with a balance, in yellow, red and black, 14th century; over N. doorway, part of roundel, formerly enclosing text, 17th century; W. of N. doorway, in lozengy border, two figures, one nimbed and with book, on chequered pavement, in black, white and red, 15th century. In nave, on S. wall at E. end, Annunciation (Plate 67) in yellow and red with incised outline, first half of 14th century. On S. wall, in upper zone, extending from S. window to W. wall, below scroll frieze, twelve panels (Plate 69) depicting acts of St. Margaret of Antioch, in black, yellow, blue and red, with incised outlines, first half of 14th century; in lower zone, between window and S. doorway, allegory of Three Living and Three Dead, first half of 14th century (Plate 68); on W. of doorway, fragmentary panels, probably 14th century, overpainted with Crucifixion in red, black, yellow and blue, c. 1400.

Piscinae: two; one in chancel, on S., with basin formed from 12th-century cushion capital; another in nave, on S., with chamfered square-headed recess and round basin; mediaeval. Plate: includes pewter chalice and paten, without marks, probably 19th century; also pewter alms-dish, 19th century. Pulpit: of oak, hexagonal, with panelled sides, beaded stiles and rails, guilloche frieze and moulded capping, 17th century. Seating: incorporates reset elements of 17th-century panelled oak box-pews; other panels reset as dado in chancel. Sundial: on rear arch of S. doorway, scratch-dial, 13th century or earlier. Tiles: reset in chancel pavement, four quarries with slip decoration, one with shield-of-arms of Clare, Earl of Gloucester, others with conventional beasts, 13th or 14th century. Miscellanea: reset in E. jamb of N. doorway, moulded loop-head, probably pre-conquest. Reset on N. door, two iron strap-hinges with fleur-de-lis finials, 13th century; shaped lock scutcheon, 16th century.

(2) Wayside Cross (92310271), in the village about ½m. S. of the church, comprises a square stone plinth and the lower part of a stone shaft, both probably of the 15th century. The upper part of the shaft and two steps at the base are modern.


(3) Tarrant Abbey House (92060330), 300 yds. S.W. of the church, is of two storeys with walls partly of rubble, partly timber-framed and partly of brick, and with tile-covered roofs (Plate 34, bottom r.). The short transverse range orientated N.W.—S.E. is of mediaeval origin, the stone lower storey being perhaps of the early 15th century while the timber-framed upper storey may be of later 15th-century date. The N.E. range is of the 16th century, with the walls refaced in brickwork about the middle of the 18th century. The S.W. wing is of the late 18th century.

In the early range the lower storey is of rubble and flint, with original ashlar dressings and with some repairs in brickwork. Low down in the S.E. elevation is a small stone window of two plain square-headed lights, now blocked; the gabled upper storey is of late 15th-century timber framework with 17th-century brick nogging. The N.E. side of the early range, where not masked by the N.E. wing, is in both storeys of similar construction to the S.E. front; a stone window similar to that described occurs near the re-entrant angle with the N.E. wing; adjacent, on the S.E., the chamfered jamb of a mediaeval doorway forms one side of a modern window. Inside the early range the first floor rests on stop-chamfered beams. The roof of the early range is of nine bays, with arch-braced collar-beams to the trusses and with curved wind-braces. The 16th-century N.E. wing has ceiling beams with stopped chamfers.

(4) Barn (92160344), 120 yds. W. of the church. In the lower part the walls are of rubble and flint with ashlar dressings and are of the 15th century; the upper part, in brick, is of 1759. The gabled W. wall has a chamfered plinth and two weathered buttresses, mediaeval below and of the 18th century above. The N. wall has 18th-century brick buttresses. The roof is of eight bays, with 'sling-brace' trusses (see Dorset II, lxvii). The E. gable has a date-stone of 1759.

(5) Range of Farm Buildings (92110339), 50 yds. W. of (4), is single-storeyed and has rubble walls with ashlar dressings, and tiled roofs; it is of the late 15th century. The E. and W. sides have ashlar buttresses of one to four weathered stages. The original roof is of six bays, with plain hammerbeam trusses with chamfered curved braces and with slightly cambered collar-beams at two levels; the wall-posts are shaped and chamfered. There are three purlins on each side, with curved wind-bracing between the two lower purlins.

(6) Cottage (92270263), 100 yds. S.W. of (2), is of two storeys, with cob walls and a thatched roof. It probably is of the early 19th century, and has a class-S plan.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(7) Bank and Ditch, presumably bounding the abbey precinct, occurs in several places and appears to have enclosed a roughly rectangular area of some 7½ acres (Plate 34). On the S.E., extending about 150 yds. S.W. from 92180338, a double bank 2 ft. to 3 ft. high has a ditch 3 ft. deep on the N.W. side. The S.W. boundary is marked by a bank 3 ft. high with a slight inner ditch, immediately S.W. of (3); formerly this part of the bank was over 200 yds. long, but only 80 yds. remain at the N.W. end. On the N.W. the precinct probably was bounded by the Tarrant. The N.E. boundary is no longer defined.

(8) Scarps and Banks (92030338), much disturbed in unrecorded 19th-century excavations, lie on the W. of (5) and cover an area some 200 ft. by 50 ft., roughly L-shaped in plan; the longer side is orientated E.—W. Mounds which appear to contain masonry from the walls of a substantial building stand up to 3 ft. high. It is reported locally that mediaeval floor-tiles have been found on the site, but none could be produced for examination.

(9) Settlement Remains (921026), with traces of deserted house-sites and closes, occur in a field on the W. of Crawford Farm. They are visible on air photographs (R.A.F. CPE/UK 1934: 4201–2), and several buildings are shown in this position on O.S. 1811.

(10) Cultivation Remains. A three-field system appears to have been in existence in 1542 (Hutchins III, 118), but nothing is known of the date of enclosure. Remains of contour strip lynchets (922027) with very low risers occur on a gentle S.W. slope, adjacent to (9).

Roman and Prehistoric

It is reported that Roman pottery and tiles have been found under the church floor (92300347); a Roman bronze brooch now in the British Museum possibly comes from this site (Dorset Procs., 39 (1918), 109).

'Celtic' Fields, see p. 118, Group (69).


  • 1. The theory that the celebrated Ancrene Riwle was originally written by Bishop Poore early in the 13th century for the convent at Tarrant Crawford is discredited (Chambers, Review of English Studies, I (1925), 13–14). It is stated in a late manuscript (Magdalen College, Oxford, MS. 67, f. 1: c. 1400) that a Latin version of the Rule was written by Simon of Ghent, Bishop of Salisbury (d. 1315) 'sororibus suis anachoritis apud Tarente'. This implies that there were anchoresses at Tarrant c. 1300, either distinct from or identical with the Cistercian community. If the anchoresses inhabited a separate house it may have adjoined the existing church or, perhaps more probably, the convent church. Excavation on the site (8) might clarify this point.