Pages 4-16

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 5, East. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.

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In this section

4 CRANBORNE (0513)

(O.S. 6 ins., SU 01 (all parts))

Cranborne parish has an area of 4,421 acres, mainly on Chalk. The land slopes down from the N.W., where Pentridge Hill rises over 500 ft. above sea-level, to about 150 ft. in the S.E., where London Clay and Reading Beds support extensive woodlands along the E. boundary of the parish. The village stands in the S. of the parish, on both banks of the R. Crane. Until 1894 the parishes of Alderholt and Verwood were part of Cranborne.

Creneburne and Bovehric (Boveridge), the latter 1¼ miles N.E. of Cranborne village, are both named in Domesday (V.C.H., Dorset iii, 67, 74). Subsequent settlement developed on the S.E. of Cranborne and extended along the banks of the Crane into the former forest, where Holwell Farm and Targett's Farm now represent the hamlet of Holwell, recorded in 1333.

Cranborne Manor House, historically one of the most important domestic buildings in England, incorporates the main walls of a fortified hunting lodge built by King John in 1207–8 (History of the King's Works, II, 922). It was acquired in 1607 by Robert Cecil, 1st earl of Salisbury, and is still the seat of the Marquess of Salisbury.


(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Bartholomew, near the middle of the village, has walls of flint and rubble with ashlar dressings of Greensand and Heathstone; the roofs are tiled, stone-slated and lead-covered. A carved stone fragment, thought to be of the 9th century and perhaps part of a mural cross (Plate 9), was discovered in 1935 in a pond about 150 yds. N.E. of the church (Arch. J., CIV (1947), 162, 176); it is now at the Manor House. Presumably the carving came from some early religious building of which we know nothing (see p. xxxvii). A Benedictine abbey was founded at Cranborne c. 980 (Hutchins III, 381) and it is presumed that the present church is on the site of the abbey church. Early in the 12th century the Benedictine house became a priory of Tewkesbury Abbey and it so remained until the Dissolution. Two early 17th-century plans (C.P.M. supplement 18) show the priory buildings some 50 yds. S. of the church; they were pulled down in 1703.

Cranborne, the Parish Church of St. Mary & St. Bartholomew

In the present church, the North Doorway is of the mid 12th century, but no longer in its original position. The lower part of the S. wall of the South Aisle and the footings of the Nave colonnades appear to be of 12th-century origin. Early in the 14th century the nave and aisles were rebuilt. The new nave piers were set on the earlier bases and the S. wall of the aisle remained in the former alignment, but the North Aisle was made wider than before, the 12th-century doorway being reset. The West Tower is of the 15th century. The nave and S. aisle have 15th-century roofs; the N. aisle roof is of the 16th century. A sketch of the N. side of the church in 1769 is in the Bodleian Library (Gough Maps 6, f. 55). The North Porch, altered in 1855 (Dorset Procs., XXXIX (1918), 116), was rebuilt in 1873 (Salisbury Field Club Trans., I, 6). In 1874–5 the Chancel was rebuilt to designs by David Brandon and at the same time the North Vestry was enlarged and the Organ Chamber was added (Sarum Dioc. Regy.; Builder, XXXIII, 967). A fragment of a stone cornice preserved at the Manor House is said to be from a former Tithe Barn, adjacent to the church; it includes a head corbel flanked by shields with the monogram TP (Plate 40), for Thomas Parker, abbot of Tewkesbury 1398–1421.

The nave and aisles (Plate 6) provide a good example of 14th-century architecture and contain interesting funerary monuments and other fittings. The 15th-century tower (Plate 4) is among the finest in East Dorset.

Architectural Description—The Nave has approximately uniform N. and S. arcades of six bays, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders springing from piers with ogeemoulded and hollow-chamfered capitals and with chamfered octagonal bases brought to a square plan by shaped spurs. On the N., the first and fifth piers are composite, with monolithic central shafts of Purbeck marble surrounded by three-quarter shafts of Chilmark stone. The second and fourth shafts are octagonal and of ashlar; the third shaft, similar to the second and fourth, has evidently been rebuilt and was originally like the first and fifth, witness the mutilated base mouldings of a composite shaft. The bases rest on low rectangular footings, the remains of earlier piers, which retain traces of narrow chamfered offsets. The S. arcade is similar to that on the N., but here the composite central pier is preserved. Above the N. arcade, near the E. end, are two clearstorey windows, each of three elliptical-headed lights in a square surround; the eastern window is of the 16th century, that on the W. appears to be later. The chancel arch is modern.

The North Aisle has an early 14th-century E. window of two trefoil ogee-headed lights under a segmental-pointed head with no tracery. In the N. wall are three windows similar to that described, but with square heads; the two openings towards the E. may have been reset at a higher level than originally; that on the W. has the sill at the original level, just above the wide chamfered plinth. The reset N. doorway has lightly chamfered jambs flanked by shafts with scalloped capitals, and vertical bands of chevron ornament outside the shafts; above, roll-moulded and hollow-chamfered abaci support an arch of two orders, the inner order two-centred and plain, with voussoirs not radially jointed, the outer order semicircular and decorated with chevron ornament under a label with nail-head enrichment. The anomalous jointing of the inner order suggests that the intrados was originally segmental, as in the S. doorway of Milborne St. Andrew church (Dorset III, Plate 10), and that the pointed outline results from the need to heighten the opening at some later period. Reset in the W. wall of the N. aisle and incorporated in the tower buttress is a 13th-century lancet window.

Low down in the eastern part of the S. wall of the South Aisle is a short length of narrow 12th-century chamfered plinth. The wide chamfered capping of the larger 14th-century plinth is set at a higher level, higher indeed than the 14th-century window sills so that the capping has to be mitred downwards at each opening. Near the E. end of the S. wall is an early 14th-century window of three gradated, trefoil ogee-headed lights under a chamfered segmental-pointed head. The adjacent window, with four cinquefoil-headed lights in a square-headed surround, is of the 15th century. Further W., 14th-century windows uniform with those of the N. aisle flank a contemporary doorway with a two-centred hollow-chamfered head and continuous jambs.

The West Tower, of five stages defined by weathered stringcourses, has a wave-moulded plinth and an embattled parapet with a moulded string-course with central and angle gargoyles. The western corners have seven-stage buttresses with weathered offsets; above the nave roof the eastern corners have corresponding square-set buttresses projecting N. and S. The octagonal stair turret ends in the second stage with pyramidal stone capping; above, the vice continues through the third stage in a smaller turret, projecting only slightly from the S. wall. The tower arch is two-centred and of four orders, the inner order ogee-moulded, the others chamfered; the three inner orders die into the responds at the springing; the outermost chamfer is continuous. The thick N. and S. abutments of the archway mask the western springings of the nave arcades. The doorway to the tower stair has a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs. The inserted W. doorway has a moulded two-centred head and continuous jambs in a casement-moulded square-headed surround with a deep label with large carved stops representing the busts of a man and of a woman in 15th-century dress; carved in the arch spandrels are the shields-of-arms of France and England quarterly with a label for difference, and of Neville (Richard, duke of York, the father of Edward IV, married Cecilia Neville c. 1438). Straight-joints flanking the upper part of the doorway show that the opening was made as an afterthought, and possibly that the W. window sill was originally somewhat lower. Over the doorway is a window of five cinquefoil-headed lights with restored vertical tracery in a double hollow-chamfered two-centred head; the label is continuous with the string-course between the second and third stages. The fourth stage has a small trefoil-headed window on the N. and another on the S. Each side of the fifth stage has a belfry window of two cinquefoil-headed lights under vertical tracery in a four-centred head. On the N. of the E. belfry window is a small trefoil-headed opening with splayed reveals and a square rear-arch; grooves in the splays suggest that the opening originally contained a small bell. The E. and N. belfry window heads are masked by clock-faces.

The nave Roof is a two-centred 15th-century wagon roof of twelve bays, with moulded arch-braces, purlins and ridge-piece, and with deep moulded wall-plates; five chamfered tie-beams are probably later insertions. The N. aisle has a low-pitched 16th-century lean-to roof with moulded wall-plates and beams forming five and a half main bays, each bay divided into four coffers by intersecting moulded beams of smaller size. The S. aisle roof is contemporary with that of the nave, and of lean-to form. Shaped stone corbels above the N. and S. arcades remain from earlier aisle roofs.

Fittings—Bells: eight; 5th with Lombardic inscription 'Ave Gracia Plena', probably from Salisbury foundry, early 15th century; others recast 1951. Books: include chained leatherbound copy of treatises by Bishop Jewel, printed by John Norton, 1610; Hammond's 'Paraphrase ... of the New Testament', 1681; 'Companion to the Prayer Book', 1748. Brass and Indent: Reset in chancel step, brass with black-letter inscription of Margaret (Ashelie), wife of William Wallop, 1582. In nave, near S.E. corner, indent for small plate.

Carving: (Plate 9, p. xxxvii), now at Manor House (4), of white limestone, probably terminal from base or arm of mural cross; flat trapezoidal part (1 ft. 6 ins. by 1 ft. 2 ins. by 6 ins. thick) with sculptured panel depicting four-legged beast, convex arm undecorated; reverse and sides coarsely tooled, reverse with wide tapering mortice; 9th century, recovered from bed of pond in 1935.

Chairs: two, of oak, with twisted uprights and lower stretchers, foliate main stretchers with crowns, stuff seats, carved backs with stuff panels, and crowns on back cresting; mid 17th century. Chests: two, of oak; one made up with shaped and carved panels, perhaps 18th century; another, with beaded lid and moulded plinth, 18th century. Coffin-stools: four, of oak with turned legs, moulded stretchers and beaded tops, mid 17th century. Communion Table: of oak, with turned legs, moulded rails and plain stretchers, 17th century. Door: In ringing chamber of tower, with plain boards and four-centred head, 15th century. Easter Sepulchre ?: (Plate 12) Reset in chancel on N., tomb-chest with moulded Purbeck marble top, front with plain shield in quatrefoil surround, in recess with moulded segmental-pointed head and with quatrefoil aperture in back wall, 15th century.

Font: (Plate 18) of Purbeck stone, with octagonal bowl decorated on each side with shallow panels with two-centred heads, on stout central shaft surrounded by eight lesser shafts, on plain octagonal base with stepped spandrels, c. 1200. Glass: reset in 3rd window of S. aisle, fragments including the upper half of an angel, parts of black-letter inscriptions, a mitre, a crowned head, a defaced shield-of-arms, perhaps argent, two chevrons gules; probably 15th century. Graffiti: On W. jamb of N. doorway, incised cross, 4 ins. high, mediaeval; on monument (8) initials and dates, 1699–1795.

Monuments: In N. aisle, on N. wall, (1) of John Eliott, 1641, small alabaster figure seated in niche with black marble surround (Plate 15), surmounted by achievement-of-arms of Eliott quartering eleven coats, with Latin epitaph on apron; (2) of Rev. H. Donne, 1830, and his wife, 1820, marble tablet by Osmond of Salisbury. Reset near W. end of N. aisle, (3) of Ann (Moore) Hooper, 1637, Katherine Hooper, 1637, her husband Thomas Hooper, 1638, others of same family, 1654–71, and Katherine (Fleming) Wyndham, 1693, wife of Judge Wyndham, sometime wife of Edward Hooper, wall-monument of variegated marbles with three slate inscription-panels in two-storeyed architectural surround, with upper pediment enclosing cartouche-of-arms of Hooper of Boveridge, flanked by two shields-of-arms, Hooper impaling another quartered coat, and with broken pediment to lower storey with reclining figures of Justice and Wisdom; lower panels with shields-of-arms of Hooper impaling Moore. In N. aisle, on W. wall, (4) of John Hawles, 1571, Purbeck marble table-tomb with moulded top and plinth, with cusped panels on front of chest; Latin epitaph on Purbeck marble slab attached to wall above.

In S. aisle, on S. wall, (5) of William Miles, 1806, and others of his family, oval tablet on obelisk-shaped marble background with urns; (6) of Mariana Brouncker, 1833, marble tablet by Sanders, London; (7) of Susanna (Morris) Stillingfleet, 1647, painted slate inscription tablet in enriched stone surround (Plate 15), with foliate apron and carved upper panel representing cherubs, torches, hour-glass etc.; reset in S.W. corner, (8) probably of John and Elizabeth (Chafin) Hooper, c. 1600 (Plate 13), canopied table-tomb with effigies of man and woman on tombchest under arcaded canopy resting on Tuscan columns; canopy with arabesque scroll-work on frieze, obelisk finials, and strap-work cresting enclosing achievement-of-arms of Hooper quartering Porte. In churchyard, some 11 yds. N. of tower, (9) of William Carter, 1694, headstone. Paintings: In nave, above S. arcade, (1) allegory of Three Living and Three Dead, much defaced; (2) St. Christopher in red outline, partly obliterated; (3) Seven Deadly Sins in yellow wash outlined in red with foliage in green; (4) Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy, as in (3), 14th century (Plate 25).

Plate: includes silver cup and paten with assay marks and donor's inscriptions of 1632; smaller cup with assay marks of 1712; large stand-paten with assay marks of 1690, engraved with arms of Hooper impaling Ashley-Cooper and donor's inscription of 1715. Pulpit: (Plate 19), of oak, circular, with panelled sides with blind tracery; above, embattled cornice with spaced bosses representing crowing cock, eagle, bird seizing hare, talbot and monogram TP (Thomas Parker, abbot of Tewkesbury 1398– 1421). Royal Arms: painted on board, of Queen Anne, 1709. Stoup: On S. of W. doorway, outside, recess with chamfered trefoil head and worn bowl, c. 1438. Miscellanea: In N. aisle at W. end, fragments of carved stonework including finials, one bearing shield charged with emblems of Passion, probably 15th century; also grotesque gargoyle, and voussoir from 14th-century window tracery.

(2) St. Aldhelm's Chapel, Boveridge (06161465), I mile N. of (1), has walls of banded brick and flint with stone dressings, and slate-covered roofs. A chapel at 'Boridge in Cranborne' is mentioned in a will of 1595 (S.D.N.Q., X (1907), 165). The present building, however, is of 1838 and consists of a Chancel and Nave combined, with a N. Chapel and a small N.W. Tower, all in simple classical style. The windows are round-headed. A stone bell-cote on the tower has four RomanDoric columns supporting a canopy with a vase finial.

The Chapel, Plan

Fittings—Chair: of yew, with cabriole legs, perhaps 18th century. Font: of Portland stone, with gadrooned and fluted bowl, probably 1838. Hatchment: Arms of Brouncker impaling Burdett, mid 19th century. Monument: In N. chapel, of Henry Brouncker, 1825, and others of same family, plain stone tablet with pediment. Panelling: Reset on walls of chancel and nave, oak wainscot, some panels with linenfold decoration, others with arabesques and strap work, others plain; 16th and 17th century. Miscellanea: In chancel, reset on N. wall, carved stone cartouche painted with arms of Hooper impaling AshleyCooper, on bracket dated 1708; on S. wall, matching cartouche carved with arms of Brouncker, on bracket inscribed 'Rebuilt 1838'.

(3) Chapel (05421335), Wesleyan, with brick walls, slate-covered roof and tall round-headed windows, was built in 1847 and has recently been converted to secular use.

Former Chapel in Cranborne Manor House, see (4).


(4) Cranborne Manor House (053132), of three storeys with basements and attics, has walls partly of rendered rubble and flint with ashlar dressings, and partly of ashlar; the roofs are tiled and stone-slated. The building dates from the first decade of the 13th century; important alterations and additions were made in the first half of the 17th century. As one of the oldest surviving domestic buildings in England, preserving its original form to an extraordinary extent, Cranborne Manor House is of great significance in architectural history.

The accounts of King John's journeyings show that he visited Cranborne on many occasions; (fn. 1) it was conveniently placed for hunting in Cranborne Chase and was within a day's journey of Clarendon Palace. In 1207–8 Ralph Neville the chief forester expended £67. 6s. 4d. on 'building the king's houses of Cranborne'. (fn. 2) Many architectural details characteristic of the early 13th century leave no doubt that a great deal of this building survives.

Early in the 17th century the Cranborne estate was acquired by Robert Cecil, 1st earl of Salisbury, who employed John Norden to make a general survey of the property. Norden's survey, dated 1605, is preserved at Hatfield House (fn. 3) and upon the title page of the accompanying terrier is drawn the plan and elevation of the manor house (Plate 42). The drawing shows a heavily buttressed and crenellated building with two main compartments (C and D) separated by a thick wall, a projecting tower (A) at the S.W. corner, a smaller turret (F) for latrines at the S.E. corner, a winding stair (E) in a three-sided turret projecting from the S. wall, and a straight flight of stairs (G) giving access to the building, at the N.E. corner. The walls, with pointed and square-headed windows, stood three storeys high and were crowned by an embattled parapet with machicolation. When Norden drew it, the large western compartment was roofless and its W. gable (K) stood isolated; compartment D, on the other hand, retained a pitched roof.

Except for the N.E. stairs (G) which have gone and the fenestration which has been greatly altered, most of the features depicted by Norden exist today (Plate 43). The principal external changes are that tower A has been heightened and a corresponding tower masks turret F. Important features to survive include the coupled blind arches seen in the lower storey of Norden's E. elevation. The actual arches are masked by a modern addition, but corresponding arches are seen in the W. elevation. Another important feature noted by Norden is the embattled parapet with ornamental machicolation of trefoil archlets on moulded and carved brackets, some of them retaining scalloped decoration typical of the early 13th century (Plate 42). Other details of the mediaeval house have been brought to light in recent years. Removal of the plaster on the S. elevation has exposed a jamb and part of the head of the upper pointed window shown by Norden on the E. of the stair turret. In the northern part of the E. elevation the single pointed window shown by Norden between two buttresses has been reopened; inside, this window illuminates a wide embrasure with shafted jambs and a small piscina on the S., evidently the recess for an altar, indicating a chapel in this corner of the building. A large aumbry to the S. of the recess has rebated jambs and a trefoil sinking on the face of the lintel. The aumbry is now in the same room as the altar recess, but it is possible that a wooden partition originally stood between the two features, the aumbry thus being in a room beside the chapel. The chapel being presumably the king's private oratory, the adjacent room was doubtless that of the royal clerk or chaplain, and it may be conjectured that the aumbry was for the safe-keeping of personal effects. Lastly, in the lower part of the N. elevation, between the two western buttresses, a double loop has recently been exposed from which bowmen might cover the northern approaches to the house in case of attack (Plate 42).

From these data much of the original arrangement of the royal hunting lodge can be reconstructed. Compartments C and D were undercrofts; in C the vaulting rested on two piers; in D it rested on the walls alone; the double bowman's loop was manned from undercroft C. Stairway G probably led to a mezzanine floor in the upper part of undercroft D; this room, lit by the lower of the two windows seen by Norden in the eastern part of the S. wall, is likely to have been the guardroom. In the S.W. corner of the guardroom an obliquely set doorway led to the spiral stairs, which wound down to the lower part of the undercroft and up to the battlements, as they still do. Two or three steps up from the threshold of the guardroom doorway another doorway gave access to the great hall which occupied the whole area above undercroft C and probably was open to the roof. The hall was lit by large pointed windows in the S. wall and perhaps by other windows on the W. and N.; the single chimney-stack seen in Norden's drawing presumably served a fireplace in the N. wall. A doorway in the S.W. corner of the hall led to a vice, now gone, but attested by loops in the E. wall of tower A; this served apartments on two or three floors in the tower. From the level of the hall, the spiral stair first mentioned rose to the floor over the guardroom, where were the king's chapel and the presumed clerk's chamber with its aumbry, the chamber being lit by the pointed window on the E. of the stair turret. Adjacent on the S.E. Norden shows a garderobe. Continuing upwards, the spiral stairs led to the storey above the chapel and clerk's chamber, lit by the two upper windows seen in Norden's E. elevation; no doubt this was the king's own chamber. It is possible that a snote iderbe was contrived at this level in the thick ness of the buttressed wall, directly over that of the floor below; dotted lines on Norden's plan suggest that the garderobe was directly accessible from the spiral stair by means of a narrow passage. The chimney-stack with two flues which Norden shows rising from the E. walk of the battlements probably served fireplaces in the king's chamber and in the clerk's chamber below.

Cranborne Manor House

Since the main walls of the 13th-century building were sound and of great strength, Robert Cecil proceeded to re-use them in the construction of his new house, but although the walls were retained, the floor-levels and the fenestration were changed. The battlements of the mediaeval S.W. tower were removed and its height was increased. At the S.E. corner of the house a corresponding tower was built, obliterating the former garderobe turret which now is attested only by thickening of the inside walls at certain places. The centre buttresses on the E. and W. walls were removed; those on the N. wall were disguised with classical pilasters, coupled and arranged in three storeys. Plans of the house and gardens by Thomas Fort, master mason, preserved at Hatfield (C.P.M. supp. 70 A, (1–5)), show that the main approach was originally on the N., although the direction has now been reversed.

At basement level, in the angle between the E. wall of the mediaeval building and the new S.E. tower, Fort's plan (Plate 41) shows the new kitchen; a 'pasterie' extended the range further E., and larders lay to the S.; these rooms were at about the same level as 'the oulde kitchen' which occupied most of compartment C on Norden's plan. Above these rooms, on the ground floor Fort's plan shows the hall and screens-passage, a buttery to the E. of them, a pantry in the new S.E. tower and, further E., a staircase and 'lodgings', the latter with bow windows facing N. and S.; the new kitchen was high enough to extend into this storey. The same plan shows the mediaeval S.W. tower occupied by a staircase, which still exists; further W. is a wing with a parlour and a chamber, with N. and S. bow windows to match those of the E. wing. Fort's plan of the first floor shows the upper part of the hall, lodgings in the E. wing, and a withdrawing chamber and a large 'new dininge roome' in the W. wing. The place of King John's oratory and his clerk's room is taken by an apartment named 'Prince's Chamber'. The second-floor plan shows the great chamber and a withdrawing chamber in the area above the hall, and a room marked 'the Kinge's chamber' in the position similarly identified in the foregoing analysis of the mediaeval building; the S.E. tower has a lodging at this level; the rest of the plan shows 'ded roomes' in the roof-spaces of the E. and W. wings. The topmost plan shows lodgings and 'gutters'.

The building account-book records that the 'tarris' was built on the N. of the house in 1610; steps from it led to an arcaded porch sheltering the main entrance. A somewhat similar porch with a 'studie' above it was built on the S. side of the house. The N. courtyard was formed in 1611 and the 'courte garden' was laid out on the S. of the house in 1620. Over £3,000 was spent on the house between 1608 and 1612. In 1636 Thomas Sawyer, mason, received payment for stone rails and balusters in the court before the house.

In 1643 troops were quartered in the house and did considerable damage. A letter of c. 1645 from Thomas Fort complains that the gateway of the N. court and the balustrades of the terrace had been 'broken down by ye souldiers', and asks for new designs from Captain Ryder. The same letter mentions that the early 17th-century W. wing was in a bad state and that Captain Ryder had already drawn up plans for rebuilding it. The accounts of 1647 include items—'to the workmen for pulling down the west part of Cranborne House in April and May', 'paid to Thomas Forte freemason for building the west end, until June 28, £196. 0. 5', 'for 9000 bricks for ... buttresses to join the old and the new building together', and 'the finishing over the Porch with my Lordes Arms'. The accounts of 1648 include Captain Ryder's bill for 'a design for the new building at Cranborne'. The rebuilding of the W. wing was finished by 1648, but notes of minor works occur in the account-book until 1657. The house, however, seems to have remained unoccupied by its owners; a note of 1685 states 'there is no tenant of the mansion house nor hath been for many years'. In 1716 the work of demolishing the early 17th-century E. wing appears to have been started when a certain Andrew Coney began to pull down the chimneys. Throughout the 18th century and until 1860 the building was divided into two farmhouses. In 1828 James Buckler made drawings from the N. and the S.E. (B.M., Add. MS., 36361, 140–1; 36439, 228). In 1863 a programme of repairs and alterations was initiated and the house was once more taken into use as a residence by the 2nd Marquess of Salisbury.

Architectural Description—The N. court, now a garden, is entered from the N. through an 18th-century gateway with rusticated pilasters and ball finials. The gateway broken down by the soldiers in 1643 is shown on Thomas Fort's plan of c. 1610 as an arched opening surmounted by a scrolled gable with three large finials. A short flight of steps on the S. of the court leads up to the terrace of 1610, remade in 1647; it has a stone balustrade with turned balusters and extends from E. to W. along the N. front. The N. front (Plate 43) is approximately symmetrical and of three main bays defined by square buttresses of three stages; these probably incorporate part of the original mediaeval buttresses, but they have 17th-century facing (Plate 45). Each outer buttress is embellished with coupled classical columns and entablatures in three stages; the lower stage is of the RomanDoric order and has plain capitals, and strapwork enrichment to the pedestals, shafts and frieze; the middle stage has egg-anddart carving on the Doric capitals; the upper stage is richer and has Ionic capitals. The inner buttresses are as described except that their lower stages are incorporated with the porch. The porch has three semicircular arches on Roman-Doric columns supporting a classical entablature; strapwork enrichment occurs in panels on the flanking piers, on transennae in the lateral arches, on the frieze and on the parapet. Above, a rectangular stone panel with a moulded surround encloses the achievement-of-arms of the 2nd earl (quarterly of six: Cecil, Winstone, Caerleon, Heckington and Walcot). The windows of the N. front are of three transomed square-headed lights; the doorway within the porch has a roll-moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs under an ogee-moulded square-headed surround, with strapwork in the spandrels. Above the window-heads of the second storey the mediaeval embattled parapet, partly obliterated by 17th-century chimneystacks, rises from a corbel-table with a moulded and hollow-chamfered string-course and trefoil archlets resting on moulded and carved corbels. Some corbels, notably those at the N.E. angle (Plate 42), are clearly of the early 13th century; others are probably 17th-century replacements. Low down in the N. front on the W. of the porch is a 13th-century archers' loophole with two splayed loops (Plate 42). Set back at the W. end of the main N. front is the N. front of the W. wing, rebuilt by Captain Ryder in 1648; it has details similar to those of the W. front, described below.

The S. front (Plate 43) comprises five main bays and two further bays in the W. wing. Of the main bays, the three in the centre survive integrally from the 13th-century building; they are defined by a buttress of three weathered stages and by a projecting stair turret with canted sides and a weathered head. At the top is an embattled parapet with weathered coping, looped merlons, and a weathered and hollow-chamfered string-course above a trefoiled corbel-table; all these features appear on Norden's drawing of the building as it was before 1608 (Plate 42). The western bay, projecting as a tower, comprises Norden's tower A in its two lower storeys; the 17th-century top storey, with smaller quoin stones than below, has a cornice imitated from the corbel-table of the mediaeval walls. The loops noted by Norden near the re-entrant angle between the tower and the main building have recently been rediscovered. The three-storeyed eastern bay, also projecting as a tower, is of the 17th century. All windows in the S. front are of three square-headed lights, mostly with transoms. In the eastern part of the façade the intermediate lights of the double-transomed windows are blind and mask the first floor. Close to the stair turret, on the E., is seen the quoin and part of the arched head of one of the large mediaeval windows depicted by Norden.

Projecting at the centre of the S. front, between the stair turret and the buttress, is a 17th-century portico (Plate 45) with three rusticated arches, the middle arch elliptical, the lateral ones semicircular, resting on Roman-Doric columns with shafts rusticated in the lower part; above is an entablature with a frieze of strapwork panels. The early 17th-century doorway within the porch has a moulded elliptical head and continuous jambs. The portico has an upper storey with a square-headed window flanked by conch-headed niches; this is crowned by a modillion cornice and a parapet in which the two round-headed central 'merlons' have circular recesses enclosing the sculptured symbols of Libra and of Virgo (drawing, p. 120); it is probable that the ten plain circular recesses below the second-storey windows of the S. front formerly contained, or were designed to contain, other emblems of the zodiac.

The W. front of the two-storeyed W. wing (Plate 44) is symmetrical and of three bays; the lower storey has a square-headed central doorway flanked by two-light casement windows. The storeys are defined by a plat-band; heavy quoins emphasise the corners; the eaves of the steeply hipped roof have a deep cornice with large wooden modillions. All these features except the windows were designed by Captain Ryder in 1648. The surviving plans (Plate 41) and accounts show that the preceding 17th-century wing had two bays of windows in the W. front, bow windows on the N. and S., and a gabled roof. The present windows are of 1863; a drawing by F. de Roos dated 1829 shows mullioned and transomed two-light openings with architraves and triple keystones; the ground-floor windows had shallow segmental heads, the taller first-floor windows were square-headed. The N. and S. fronts of the W. wing have details corresponding with those of the W. front. On the N. of the W. wing, the northern part of the W. elevation of the mediaeval building retains, in the lower storey, two shallow round-headed recesses with arches in which alternate voussoirs are of Chilmark and Heathstone; part of the southern recess is masked by the 17th-century W. wing. Adjacent on the N. is a mediaeval buttress of three weathered stages, with ashlar coursing of two contrasting colours. Part of the original corbel-table survives near the top of the wall.

The E. elevation of the mediaeval building is masked in the two lower storeys by modern additions, but early photographs show round-headed recesses similar to those on the W. Above, at a level intersected by the present second floor, a 13th-century lancet light has recently been reopened. This is the lower of the three arched windows shown on Norden's E. elevation. The two upper windows seen by Norden have been replaced by a 17th-century transomed four-light window. To the N. of the lancet light is a three-stage mediaeval buttress of banded ashlar, as on the W. The corbel-table is largely of the 13th century.

The courtyard on the S. of the house dates from early in the 17th century; it has brick walls in English bond. At the centre of the S. wall is an ashlar-faced gateway with a moulded semicircular arch; above, the wall has a weathered brick coping with two merlons. Flanking the gateway and set diagonally on plan are two small two-storeyed lodges (Plates 33, 47) with pyramidal roofs.

Inside the house, the screens-passage has twin 17th-century doorways on the E., with hollow-chamfered four-centred heads in moulded square-headed surrounds, with carved spandrels. A similar doorway splayed across the S.E. corner is set at a higher level so that its threshold may correspond with one of the steps in the mediaeval circular stair from which it opens, indicating that the present floor-level is below that of the mediaeval hall. The oak screens have two segmental-headed doorways flanked by Roman-Doric pilasters which carry foliate brackets and a moulded entablature; the gallery over the screens-passage has an oak front with arcaded panelling; all these features are carved with guilloche ornament and scroll-work. The walls of the hall have early 17th-century oak panelling in five heights. The fireplace has a stone surround with a shallow four-centred head in a square-headed frame with modillions. The doorway in the S.W. corner of the hall has a moulded four-centred head in a square-headed surround, with foliate spandrels and shaped stops.

The circular stair to which the S.E. doorway in the screenspassage gives access is of stone. Two steps down from the screenspassage doorway, a doorway to the former buttery has a chamfered triangular head and chamfered jambs; the stair is lit by square-headed loops. In the basement, four steps up from the bottom of the stair, the newel terminates at a shaft-base with 13th-century hold-water mouldings (Plate 42). A recess at this level has, on the W., an original doorway, now blocked, with a chamfered two-centred head; doubtless it opened into the undercroft marked C on Norden's plan. The kitchen, occupying the greater part of the undercroft, has plain 17th-century vaulting, four-centred in cross-section, with moulded ribs with leaf enrichment at the intersections; the vaults spring from piers and corbels with modillion capping; the square piers have chamfered arrises with shaped stops. The large kitchen fireplace, on the N., has an ashlar surround with a chamfered segmental head. In the E. wall of the kitchen are two 17th-century stone doorways as described, and a food-hatch with a similar surround.

The basement doorway to the S.E. tower has a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs; on the E. splay is a mason's scratching with '1609, R.R.' in a scribed circle and lozenge.

In the S.W. tower the early 17th-century staircase is of oak, with continuous square newel posts converted above hand-rail level into Roman-Doric columns (Plate 34); stout turned balusters support heavy moulded handrails; at second-floor level the square newel posts terminate in large ball finials. In the W. wing, which is entered through the staircase tower, the two small eastern rooms on the ground floor survive from the early 17th-century building. The drawing-room, in the part of the wing which was rebuilt in 1648, was remodelled in 1863; its two fireplaces probably survive from the early 17th century when there were two rooms here, a parlour and a chamber. On the first floor the two eastern rooms of the W. wing remain as shown on the early 17th-century plan (Plate 41). The 17th-century panelling in the 'withdrawinge chamber; is in four heights capped with a strapwork frieze; the obliquely set doorway from the staircase has a timber frame with a chamfered four-centred head and an original door with peg-studded planks and iron strap-hinges. The large western room, originally the 'new dininge roome', but rebuilt by Ryder in 1648, is now a library; the windows were remodelled in 1863, but traces of mid 17th-century window embrasures of finely jointed ashlar with segmental heads were found in 1969 when the 19th-century panelling was temporarily removed. At the top of the main staircase, the doorway to 'the greate chamber' over the hall has a moulded four-centred head in a square surround, as before, and a peg-studded plank door with strap-hinges. The fireplace in the N. wall of the great chamber is similar to that of the hall, but smaller. The carved wooden overmantel appears to be of the 16th century and presumably is reset; it has a centre panel of elaborate scroll-work flanked by tapering pilasters with Corinthian capitals surmounted by obelisk finials. The withdrawing chamber on the E. of the great chamber has a fireplace with a stone surround, as before, under a chimneypiece formed of 16th and 17th-century carved woodwork, reassembled. Adjacent on the E., the King's Chamber has a fireplace with a stone surround under an oak chimneypiece (Plate 36) in which the panelled overmantel has tapering pilasters with strapwork enrichment flanking twin aedicules with broken pediments and vase finials; above is a triglyph frieze. On the first floor, below the King's Chamber, the room named Prince's Chamber on the early 17th-century plan has a reset 16th-century oak chimneypiece carved to represent a grapevine, with a central niche containing a figure of Atlas, an old man bearing a globe in his arms. A recess with ashlar walls on the E. side of the room is part of the 13th-century domestic chapel. It has a 13th-century lancet window with wide splays; the S. jamb of the recess retains an attached capital with a trumpet-shaped bell and a moulded abacus; below it is the rebate for a column-shaft, now gone. In the S. side of the recess a small square-headed niche with a chamfered surround contains the remains of a piscina, indicating that the recess originally contained an altar. To the S. of the shafted jamb is a large square-headed aumbry with chamfered and rebated jambs which continue on the lintel in the form of a trefoil panel. In the N. wall of the room are the splayed sill and jambs of a northward-facing lancet, now blocked.

(5) Cranborne Lodge (05601314), originally the house of the Stillingfleet family, is of three storeys with cellars and attics, and has brick walls with stone dressings, and tiled and leaded roofs. The square central block is of c. 1700. Soon after the middle of the 18th century, when the house belonged to the Drax's, E. and W. wings were added to the southern part of the block and E. and W. staircases to the northern part; on the first floor the W. wing contains a handsomely appointed drawing-room (advertisement, Salisbury Journal, 3 Feb. 1766). Extensions on the N.E. are of the late 18th or early 19th century.

Cranborne Lodge

The N. front of the original building is symmetrical and of four bays with a pediment; in the lower storey the two middle bays contain a central doorway with a columned and pedimented porch. The first-floor windows have rusticated architraves with heavy keystones; the second-floor windows are plain and the pediment has a round-headed central window. The E. and W. staircase bays have round-headed mezzanine windows.

The pedimented S. front of the original building (Plate 46) is of three bays. The lower storey, with a columned and pedimented central doorway, is rendered and forms a podium for a tetrastyle facade with Ionic pilasters which extend through the second and third storeys. The central window in the second storey is round-headed and has heavy rustication. The E. and W. wings are each of three bays; the storeys are higher than in the centre block and above the second-floor windows the roof is masked by a parapet.

Inside, the rooms have 18th-century fittings of good quality, with moulded cornices and skirting-boards, and panelling with fielded centres. The S. hall has a stone pavement and probably was the entrance hall in the original plan; it has a carved stone chimneypiece of c. 1700 (Plate 46). Ionic columns at the W. end of the hall replace the former outside wall. The first-floor drawing-room in the W. wing has a modelled and coloured plaster ceiling (Plates 38, 39) with rococo scroll-work and flower wreaths surrounding a gilt eagle with clouds and lightning; it closely resembles contemporary work at Came House (Dorset II, 386); the finely carved wooden chimneypiece has similar enrichment (Plate 46). The chamber over the N. hall has a highly enriched plaster entablature of c. 1700, retaining original gilding and colouring (Plate 38).

(6) The Fleur-de-Lis Inn (05571326), of two storeys with brick walls and tiled roofs, dates from the 16th century, but has been much altered. The walls, originally of timber framework, were cased in brick late in the 18th century.

The roof of the original range is of oak with heavy tie-beam trusses, one with scissor-bracing, others with cambered collar-beams; these support two purlins on each side and retain some curved wind-braces. In the N.W. wing the roof is of similar construction, the purlins resting on the wind-braces of the E.-W. roof; one truss has a lower king-strut.

The ground-floor rooms of both ranges have intersecting beams with shaped stops; mortices in the soffits indicate former partitions. The N.W. wing retains part of a beam with ogee and ovolo mouldings and shaped stops.

(7) House (05511327), of two storeys with brick walls and a thatched roof, is of the late 17th or early 18th century; it is now divided into two tenements. Inside, an open fireplace has a chamfered bressummer with run-out stops. A ground-floor room has a large chamfered beam with ogee stops. The stairs have splat balusters.

(8) Cottages (05481336), two adjacent, with timber-framed walls and thatched roofs, are now of two storeys, but originally were of one; they date from the 17th century. The framework has brick nogging and in places has been replaced by brickwork. The former eaves plate is seen below the first-floor window sills.

Monuments (9–19)

Unless described otherwise, the following monuments in Cranborne village are of the 18th century and are two-storeyed, with brick walls and tiled roofs.

(9) Cottage (05621334), of one storey with dormer-windowed attics under a thatched roof, was built early in the 18th century. It has a moulded brick plinth and string-course, and lozenge-shaped panels of blue bricks below the dormer window sills.

(10) House (05571334), of two storeys with attics, dates from early in the 18th century. The S. front, of six evenly spaced bays with a plat-band and plain pilasters, was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. Inside, the stairs have original splat balusters, and one room has a deeply chamfered beam.

(11) Cottage (05551334), with a slate-covered roof, is of the late 18th century. The S. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with a blue-brick chaînage.

(12) Cottage (05471337), of early 18th-century origin, but much altered in recent years, retains a panelled chimney-stack with a cornice with shaped modillions.

(13) House (05441336), with a symmetrical three-bay S.W. front, dates from the middle of the 18th century. The central doorway has a flat wooden hood on shaped brackets; sashed windows in both storeys have gauged brick heads with ashlar keystones. The middle first-floor 'window' is false.

(14) House (05391346), with a class-U plan, is of the early 19th century. The symmetrical three-bay E. front has a central doorway with a fanlight in a rusticated surround, and plain sashed windows in each storey. Inside, the opening between the E. vestibule and the W. staircase hall has an elliptical head and a door-case with fluted pilasters and carton-pierre enrichment. The stairs have plain balustrades and scrolled step spandrels.

(15) House (05371352), of two storeys with attics, comprises two parallel ranges; that on the W. is of c. 1770, that on the E, is later. The E. front was originally symmetrical and of three bays, with a central doorway and with segmental-headed sashed windows with ashlar keystones; an extension on the S. is modern. Inside, several rooms have contemporary fireplaces with moulded cast-iron grates.

(16) Cottages (05511343), two adjacent, are single-storeyed with attics and have walls partly of timber framework and partly of brick and rubble; the roofs are thatched. They are probably of early 17th-century origin.

(17) House (05681323), of two storeys with a thatched roof, is of the second half of the 18th century. The S. front is symmetrical and of three bays. The plan is of class T.

(18) House (05751328), with a date-stone of 1712, has a symmetrical W. front of three bays. Inside, are two chamfered beams.

(19) House (05621325), of mid 18th-century origin, has a 19th-century symmetrical S. front of three bays with a central doorway. The plan is of class T.


(20) Boveridge House (06991476), of two principal storeys with cellars and attics, has brick walls with ashlar dressings, and slate-covered roofs (Plate 47). It was built by Henry Brouncker (d. 1825) to designs by William Evans of Wimborne. The original house was smaller than at present, the S. front comprising only five bays and the service rooms being in the basement. Additions made during the second half of the 19th century on the W. of the original house include a vestibule with flanking rooms, a ground-floor service wing to N.W and a loggia to S.W. The central W. portico with Greek-Doric columns probably comes from the original façade: an inscription records its restoration in 1887. Probably at this time, too, the roofs were altered and the attics were enlarged. The E. drawing-room was built in 1920.

Boveridge House

(21) Almshouses (06051469), range of five small single-storeyed dwellings with cob walls and thatched roofs, appear to date from the early part of the 19th century. The original plan comprised five bedrooms and one communal living room, but at present the charity is extinct and the building is in private occupation. The only feature of note is a rude porch on the N.E. side.

(22) Boveridge Farm (06391498), house, of two storeys with brick walls and slate-covered roofs, dates probably from early in the 19th century. It appears to incorporate elements of 'the old mansion of the Hoopers . . . pulled down about the beginning of this century' (Hutchins III, 385). Inside, there are 18th-century doors and doorcases, and some reused 17th-century chamfered beams with rounded stops.

(23) Cottage (06401510), at Boveridge Farm, is two-storeyed and has flint and brick walls and slated roofs; it bears a date-stone of 1833. The small red bricks, however, are earlier than this date and probably were salvaged at the demolition of the old mansion (see (22)). Inside, a ground-floor room has a 17th-century chamfered beam with ogee stops at one end only.

(24) Cottages (05921502), range of four, 500 yds. W. of the foregoing, are two-storeyed and have cob walls with brick plinths, and thatched roofs. Probably they are of the late 18th century.

(25) Cottage (05871490), single-storeyed with a dormerwindowed attic, has cob walls and a thatched roof; it is of the first half of the 18th century. The plan is of class S. Inside, one room has a beam with narrow chamfers and shaped stops. The fireplace has a chamfered wooden bressummer with run-out stops.

(26) Cranborne Farm (04141454), house, of two storeys with brick walls and slated roofs, is of late 18th-century origin with an early 19th-century extension on the N. A barn on the W., with walls partly of brick and partly of timber framework and with a modern iron-covered roof, is of the late 17th or early 18th century. A barn on the N. with timber-framed walls is of the 18th century.

(27) Biddlesgate Farm (07741428), house, of one storey with attics, has walls of cob and of brick, and slate-covered roofs. The original range has a class-J plan and is of the late 17th century. About the middle of the 18th century a wing with a class-S plan was added at right-angles to the range, on the E., and early in the 19th century a small extension was made on the W. of the range. Inside, the dairy at the N. end of the original range has a chamfered beam with run-out stops. The 18th-century wing contains a chamfered beam with rounded stops.

(28) Ashes Farm (07791375), house, is single-storeyed with dormer-windowed attics and has brick walls and a thatched roof; it dates from c. 1700. The plan is of class J and some chamfered ceiling beams are exposed.

(29) Harb Lane Farm (08291232), house, of one storey with attics, has brick walls and a thatched roof. It dates probably from the early part of the 18th century, but has been much altered in recent times.

(30) Targett's Farm (06761304), house, of two storeys, has brick and stone walls, partly rendered, and a tiled roof; it is of late 15th-century origin with 18th and 19th-century additions. The early range may originally have had rubble walls, the brickwork being refacing of the 17th century. Noteworthy external features are the chamfered ashlar plinths of the original range, and stout ashlar N.E. and N.W. quoins. The roof retains 15th-century trusses.

Targett's Farm

The plan of the original house does not belong to one of the classified groups (see p. xlvi). The hall at the S. end of the range appears to have been chambered over from the beginning; its ceiling rests on two chamfered beams and a corresponding S. wall-plate. The N. bay is partitioned off to make a throughpassage; a beam some 2 ft. N. of the N. side of the passage implies that the passage was originally wider than at present. Further N., the ground-floor rooms have no notable features. The position of the original fireplace is unknown. In the E. side of the hall is an original square-headed doorway with a chamfered oak surround with ogee stops; it leads to a lobby containing an 18th-century oak staircase with cut strings, turned balusters, chamfered newel posts and moulded handrails. Although the stairs are of the 18th century the doorway from the hall suggests that an original stair stood in the same position, and the splayed corner shown on the plan probably remains from this stair. Further E., the parlour has a moulded plaster cornice and a fireplace of c. 1820.

On the first floor, a doorway similar to that in the hall gives access from the staircase to the hall chamber; this room is spanned, some 10 ft. from the S. end, by an original collar-beam truss with chamfered arch-braces supporting heavy purlins with curved wind-braces. In a position above the presumed N. side of the through-passage the roof has a collared tie-beam truss, indicating that the chamber storey was originally divided at this point. About half-way between the tie-beam truss and the N. end of the range there are remains of another collar-truss, this time without arch-braces.

A Barn some 30 yds. N.E. of the farmhouse has walls partly of brick and partly weather-boarded, and modern iron roofcovering; doubtless it was formerly thatched. The roof, with four queen-strutted collar and tie-beam trusses of oak, braced to oak posts, is probably of the 17th century. The posts were once flanked by aisles on both sides, but that on the N. has gone. The S. aisle has a 17th-century brick wall and a modern roof.

Mediaeval and Later Earthworks

(31) Motte and Bailey (059126), nearly ½ mile S.E. of (1), stands on a prominent rise called Castle Hill, at the N.W. end of a broad ridge. Nothing is known of its history. The earthworks cover some 2½ acres and comprise a circular motte, 180 ft. in diameter and 28 ft. high, surrounded by a small ditch with an outer bank on the W. and N.W. A crescent-shaped bailey on the E. is bounded by a rampart up to 25 ft. high, with an outer ditch. A causeway across the ditch, and what appears to be an entrance through the rampart, are at the S. end of the bailey.

(32) Deer Park, of about 1,040 acres, known as Blagden Park, occupies the N. part of the parish on the E. slopes of Pentridge Hill. It was created soon after 1321 (Dorset Procs., 86 (1965), 165–70) and until 1485 it lay wholly in Cranborne parish, Bokerley Dyke (Pentridge (16)) being used as the N.E. boundary. Subsequently the park was extended into Hampshire. The park pale is a bank 14 ft. wide and 3 ft. high, where best preserved, with an inner ditch.

Roman And Prehistoric

(33) Roman Building (07291262), found in 1867, occupied a site at Holwell, below Jordan Hill, on low ground immediately E. of the R. Crane. Two areas of red tessellated pavement were traced. Finds included samian ware, New Forest and other coarse pottery and a Constantinian coin; some of these are in D.C.M. (Arch. J., XLIV (1887), 395–6; Hutchins III, 388).

(34) Romano-British Settlement (047155), now almost totally levelled by ploughing, occurs on either side of the track leading N.W. from Jack's Hedge Corner (Plate 86, centre). The site lies on the gentle E. slope of a ridge at about 350 ft. above O.D. Air photographs (C.U.A.P., ANB 67–71, V–DG 40; N.M.R., SU 0416/1/49–51) suggest that it was unenclosed and covered at least ten acres; they also indicate that it overlies 'Celtic' fields (Group (85), p. 118).

Romano-British Pottery has been found N. of the village (05341406), where a ditch containing oyster shells was seen, together with tiles and a coin of Constantine I (Dorset Procs., 86 (1965), 119); also at Castle Hill (Hutchins III, 381), and near West Blagdon (ibid., 385). The last-named site may be identical with (34).

Bokerley Dyke (Pentridge (16)) forms part of the N.E. boundary of the parish.

Round Barrows

(35) Bowl (04011569), on the summit of a spur on Blackbush Down, has been damaged by digging; diam. 30 ft., ht. I ft.

(36) Bowl (04131480), just N. of Cranborne Farm, lies on a gentle slope overlooking the Crane valley; diam. 65 ft., ht. 2 ft.

A Barrow appears to have existed on Castle Hill and to have yielded a bucket urn (Dorset Procs., XXIX (1908), 137; Ant. J. XIII (1933), 444). Two 'Wessex Culture' bronze daggers, found in digging foundations near Boveridge House (069148) in 1802, were possibly associated with another barrow (Dorset Barrows, 104). 'Knap Barrow' (05151474), and other irregularities within the copse in which it lies, are natural features, the remains of Tertiary capping overlying the Chalk.

A grave, containing a bell-beaker (Clarke, type E), flint flakes and cores, apparently unmarked by a mound, was recorded, but not precisely located, by Pitt-Rivers on Blackbush Down (Excavations III (1892), 240–1; Clarke, Beaker Pottery of Gt. Britain (1970), 479, No. 169).


(37) Mound (06571488), known as Noddle Hill, lies in woodland on the summit of a ridge W. of Boveridge House. It is roughly oval (120 ft. by 80 ft. and 12 ft. high), and is partly surrounded by a level area which may be the remains of a shallow ditch with an external bank. The mound has been extensively damaged by quarrying and by the insertion of a water-tank in the top.


  • 1. Hardy, 'Itin. Johannis Regis Angl.', Arch. XXII, 124.
  • 2. Pipe Roll, 10 John, 202.
  • 3. Cecil Papers, Maps, supplement 18.