17 LANGTON MATRAVERS (9978)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 97 NE, bSZ 07 NW, cSZ 08 SW)
The parish, covering some 2,160 acres, is a roughly
rectangular strip of land, lying between the sea and the
Purbeck Hills, immediately W. of Swanage. The S.
half of the parish on the hard limestones of the Purbeck
and Portland Beds is a treeless and stony tableland, between 300 ft. and 400 ft. above O.D., intersected by drystone walls and scarred by tip heaps, quarries and mineshafts. To the N. the land falls gently over the Upper
Purbeck outcrops, the source of Purbeck marble from
Roman times, into a wooded valley in soft Wealden
sands and shales. Beyond, the land rises steeply to the
high Chalk hog's-back ridge of the Purbeck Hills, at
over 600 ft. above O.D.
The present village is strung out along the road from
Kingston to Swanage in the centre of the parish; this is
probably the result of the growth of the mediaeval
extractive industries of the area. Originally, as elsewhere
in the Isle of Purbeck, there was a scatter of tiny settlements, most of which were already in existence by 1086
(Domesday Book), each with a small area of land, the
boundaries of which can still be traced in the continuous
hedgelines. These settlements were either on the N. edge
of the limestone outcrop, such as Acton, Leeson and
Coombe, or in the central valley and on the S. slope
of the Purbeck Hills, such as Wilkswood, Knitson and
The buildings in the parish are nearly all of Purbeck
stone with stone-slated roofs; some of the isolated houses are of the 17th century, but few buildings in the
present village are older than the 18th century.
a(1) The Parish Church of St. George stands in the
middle of the village. The West Tower, of squared and
coursed rubble with a lead-covered roof, was built in
the middle of the 15th century; at the S.E. corner is a
vice, rebuilt in 1876. The rest of the church was rebuilt
in 1828 and again in 1875–6 to the designs of G. R.
Architectural Description—The West Tower (9 ft. by 10 ft.)
is of three storeys divided externally into two stages by a
weathered offset and has a moulded plinth and diagonal buttresses to the lower stage. At the top is a parapet string and
an embattled parapet, partly modern. In the E. wall the
archaic tower arch is two-centred, of two wave-moulded orders with continuous jambs. Above is the outline of the low
roof of a mediaeval nave some 6½ ft. narrower than the
present nave. The rectangular W. window has casementmoulded jambs and lintel; the mullions have been removed
and the window has been extended to form a doorway and fanlight. The first floor is lit by small rectangular windows in the
N. and S. walls. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window
of two trefoiled lights with sunk spandrels in a square head;
that to the E. is below the level of the present nave roof and is
blocked. Across it runs the line of the roof of the nave of
Fittings—Bells: one, with inscription 'S[a]ncte Ihonas ora pro
nobis' and stamp of a mediaeval ship with stern-castle, made
in Bristol by John Gosselin, early 15th-century; two 18th-century bells were disposed of in 1941. Bell-frame, probably
17th-century, restored. Brass: In nave—S. of chancel arch, to
[John] Havelland, 1607, and Mary his wife , also of
Thomas their eldest son, 1624, inscription plate, made 1630,
now incomplete (Dorset Procs. LII (1930), 20; Hutchins, 1st ed. I,
215). Font: octagonal bowl with two trefoil-headed panels
in each side, on octagonal stem with eight engaged shafts,
13th-century, retooled, set on modern base. Monument: In S.
aisle, to the Rev. Samuel Serrell, 1842, and Harriot (Digby)
his wife, 1848, white marble tablet with cornice on slate
backing. Plate: includes an Italian cup of the early 16th century,
a cup and flagon both of 1735, and a small salver of 1766.
Miscellanea: In S. aisle, on S. wall, oak panel carved with St.
George and the Dragon and subsidiary scenes, 16th-century,
probably German; in S. aisle over S. door, part of plain gable
cross; in W. tower, flanking head of W. window, two carved
stone heads, reset.
a(2) Wesleyan Chapel (350 yds. W.S.W.) has rubble
walls rendered with stucco and roofs covered with stone slates;
it is dated 1842. A schoolroom was added later at the S. end.
A new chapel was built immediately E. of the old in 1875.
The old chapel is a simple rectangular building with a small
projection at the S. end of the E. side. The entrance doorway is
in the N. gable wall and has plain stone dressings; it leads into
an internal porch under a plain gallery across the N. end. The
windows are rectangular and plain under plain stone lintels. On
the frontage are contemporary iron railings having standards
with urn finials and spear-headed uprights.
a(3) Former School, opposite the church, is of one storey
with rubble walls and slated roof. It is dated 1845 and is built
in the Tudor style. It was enlarged in the present century.
b(4) Leeson House is of two storeys with attics. The
walls are of stone or covered with stucco and the roofs
are slated. On the W. side are the remains of a 17th-century farmhouse, remodelled and retaining no original features; this was enlarged in the early 19th century,
and further, more extensive, additions were made
towards the middle of the 19th century and later.
The house is built on an irregular plan. The main block
faces E. and has the E. wall carried up to two gables flanking
a central gabled dormer, all finished with octagonal stone finials.
The finials are repeated on a small lower wing to the N. and on
the S. porch, which has octagonal corner buttresses and a four-centred arched doorway. Inside, the principal doorways have
four-centred heads, and some of the rooms have exposed ceiling
joists carried on shaped brackets. The staircase has two-centred
arcaded balustrades. Many fragments of Flemish carved woodwork of the 17th and 18th centuries have been reused in combination with 19th-century work to form doors, fireplace
surrounds and window shutters. Outbuildings include a coach-house and stable block of the early 19th century with an
elliptical-arched entrance, now blocked.
These monuments, unless otherwise described below,
are small houses and cottages, generally of two storeys
with rubble walls and stone-slated roofs, and of the late
18th or early 19th century. Some have a central entrance
with a window to each side, but several of those in the
village street are built on a narrow frontage with one
ground-floor front window only. Buildings numbered
on the village maps but for which there is no individual
entry below are covered by this general description.
a(5) The Rectory is mostly of the mid and late 19th century
but incorporates a 17th-century building at the S.W. corner,
which has been refronted and refenestrated at the later date.
a(6) Wilkswood Farm (995795) is an interesting
complex of buildings, including two separate early
17th-century houses originally of much the same size
and probably similar in plan, grouped round one farmyard (see Sectional Preface, p. xxxvii). In the 17th
century it was the home of the Havelland family
(Dorset Procs. LII (1930), 20).
The Farmhouse is largely of the mid 19th century, but it
incorporates in the western half the walls of a 17th-century
house of hall and inner room type. The original hall fireplace,
with chamfered stone jambs and four-centred head, and a
small window in the W. end wall remain. The lower part of
the W. wall projects to the S. into a later addition and may
originally have been continued to form a small enclosure in
front of the house.
A few yards from the E. end of the farmhouse and at right
angles to it is another small 17th-century House of one storey
and attic. At the S. end is a chimney-stack, now capped with
brick. In the late 17th or early 18th century a Dairy House, also
of one storey and attic, was built on the W. side parallel with
the farmhouse, forming a small courtyard. The dairy house is
divided into two by a stone cross wall; the W. room has a
fireplace, two chamfered ceiling beams and a stone staircase.
The E. part has a window closed by wooden slats and has
probably been used as a cheese room.
c(7) Knaveswell Farm (001808) has been modernised
c(8) Knitson Farm, house (004807), of one storey and attics,
was built in the 17th century; the date 1634 is said to be carved
on the N.E. corner of the house but is now hidden by later
additions. The front is symmetrical with a central doorway
flanked by two casement windows above which are two
dormer windows with hipped roofs. The plan comprises two
rooms with gable fireplaces and opposed doorways at one end
of the hall. There are additions to the S. and E. (Modernised)
Knitson Farm Cottage, 60 yds. S.E. of the farmhouse, of one
storey and attics, was probably built in the 18th century as a
cottage and small barn under one roof. It has been altered in
modern times. Barn, N.W. of the farmhouse, was built in the
18th century and has a modern roof. (See also Monument 40.)
b(9) Langton Manor Farm, house, of two storeys and attics,
was built in the 18th century and later extended towards the
E. It may incorporate parts of an earlier building. A Cottage,
33 yds. S.W. of the foregoing, was built in the early 18th
century and later licensed as a public house.
b(10) Oakridge (006790), a house of one storey and attics,
was built in the early 18th century, the original part consisting
of the kitchen, with entrance lobby and staircase partitioned off
at the S. end. Later in the same century the living room at the
S. end was built or rebuilt; at a later date a porch was added
to the W. front and a larder and store room were added at the
b(11) Coombe New Buildings, six cottages, are of two
periods. The four E. cottages are late 18th-century, the E.
two after 1841.
Langton Matravers (W)
b(12) Cottages, three, of one storey and attics, comprise a
house probably of the late 17th century divided into two tenements with gable-end chimneys, a single-storey wing added
at the back and a two-storey cottage added in the second
quarter of the 19th century. (E. cottage modernised)
b(14) Cottages, a pair, were built as a single house in the late
16th century; a mullioned window and rear staircase outshot
remain from this date. The building was drastically altered in
the early 19th century. (Modernised)
a(16) 'King's Arms', public house, was built at the end of
the 18th century. The interior was altered and a porch added
in the 19th century.
a(17) House, of two storeys and attics, is rendered in stucco
and with a stone plat-band.
a(19) Forge Cottage was reconstructed in 1955.
a(23) House is L-shaped on plan and has been enlarged.
a(27) Spyway Barn (998777) is of the mid 19th century with
a modern roof.
a(29) Houses, three, at Acton (989784), form one range. The
middle house, probably of the late 16th or early 17th century,
was built on a two-room plan with chimneys in the gable-end
walls; stop-chamfered ceiling beams are the only original
features remaining. Additions at each end are of the early
a(30) House (990789).
a(31) Court Pound, house (991787), originally two cottages,
is built on an L-shaped plan with a projecting chimney-stack
at the end of one wing. The Pound, 70 yds. N. of the house, a
rectangular enclosure some 28½ ft. by 26½ ft. with dry-stone
walling 4 ft. high, is said to have been used for donkeys straying from local quarry-workings. It is 18th-century or later.
a(32) Cottage is of one storey and attics. The W. part was
probably built in the 17th century, on a hall and inner room
plan, aligned from W. to E. down a slope, with the hall chimney at the E. end and the entrance beside it. A third room with
a new entrance sheltered by a porch was added to the E. end
in the 18th century. A new doorway has been made near the
W. end and the windows have been altered.
a(33) House, with stone inscribed 'S.C. 1799', has a later
addition at the S. end.
a(36) Cottage, of one storey and attics, is of the 17th century,
probably first built on a single-room plan and doubled in size
later in the same century. There are lean-to additions at the
back and the building has been divided into two tenements.
One stone-mullioned window remains. (Demolished)
a(38) Durnford House is of two storeys and attics with
walls of ashlar and rubble with ashlar dressings. It is dated 1725
but was rebuilt in the mid 20th century with old material; the
former house was five bays wide with a symmetrical S. front,
but the new house is only three bays wide. The S. front
incorporates an entrance doorway with a moulded eared
architrave and a date stone within the pediment above and
hung-sash windows of rather squat proportions with moulded
architraves and diagonal glazing bars, all of 1725.
Langton Matravers (E)
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
b(39) Strip Lynchets (001788–002784), of contour and up-and-down types, cover about 10 acres 300 yds. S.E. of the
church and S. of Putlake Farm. The very fragmentary remains
are arranged in butting furlongs and are extensively cut into by
later quarries. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 5400.)
c(40) Strip Fields around Knitson (004808), a settlement first recorded in 1318 (Fägersten, 123) which
lies just over 1¼ miles N.N.E. of St. George's church,
Langton Matravers (1). In 1774 Knitson was described
as 'an hamlet and little farm in Afflington tithing'
(Hutchins, 1st ed. I, 214).
Extensive remains of strip fields lying within an area of 90
acres to the E. and S.E. have now been largely destroyed, but
many appear on vertical air photographs. Contour strip
lynchets with the treads cultivated still partly survive
N.E. of the farm (Monument 8); they are arranged in furlongs
along a slope of some 10°, butting against others to the E.
running directly against a slope of 18°. Risers are up to 6 ft.
high. To the S.E. of the farm, strips ran N.-S. down an 8°
slope, at the S. end of which (near 005802) they were from
about 10 yds. to 25 yds. wide, divided by low banks. All the
strips except this last block, which must have lain outside the
bounds of the then open field, tally with the pattern of furlongs
in the 'Common Field' on the Tithe Map of 1841. A funnelmouthed droveway runs N. through the settlement to Nine
Barrow Down and S., as a hollow-way, to former pasture
some 350 yds. S.E. of the farm. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821:
Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments
(41) Mound, for a windmill, p. 482.
(42–44) Roman Remains, p. 602.
Ancient Field Group (28), p. 632.