24 OSMINGTON (7282)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 78 SW, bSY 78 SE)
Osmington parish, covering 2,234 acres, lies 4 m.
N.E. of Weymouth along the N. side of Weymouth
Bay. The relief of the area is extremely varied, owing
in part to the complex underlying geological structure.
The present parish falls into two unequal rectangular
areas divided by the small Upton Brook which reaches
the sea near Osmington Mills. The W. part is bounded
on the S. by steep cliffs, up to 200 ft. high, of Oxford
and Kimmeridge Clays; northward lies an area of
broken country on Kimmeridge Clay, Portland and
Purbeck stone between 100 ft. and 350 ft. above O.D.;
towards the N. boundary the land rises steeply to the
extreme E. end of the S. Dorset Ridgeway on Chalk
at 450 ft. above O.D. This area was the original parish
of Osmington and has the present village in the centre,
lying in the bottom of a dry valley. The smaller E.
part rises from low cliffs in the S., across Kimmeridge
Clay and Greensand to a steep E.-W. ridge of Chalk at
about 400 ft. above O.D., beyond which the land falls
N. and W. to the valley of the Upton Brook, cut in
soft Wealden Beds. This was, until at least the late 15th
century, the separate parish of Ringstead. There are
four Ringsteads listed in Domesday Book, each of which
appears from later evidence to have been a separate
settlement. One, later called West Ringstead, is marked
by the remains of the church (2) and the well-preserved
earthworks of the deserted village (27); another, later
known as Up Ringstead, is perhaps the present Upton
House; the site of Middle Ringstead is unknown, and
the name of East Ringstead has survived only as a field
name on the Tithe Map of 1839 in the E. of the parish.
The village contains a few houses of the 17th century,
and the building at Charity Farm is of vernacular
interest. The chalk-cut figure of George III on White
Horse Hill is a prominent feature.
a(1) The Parish Church of St. Osmund stands on
the W. side of the village. The walls are of squared
local rubble; most of the windows have dressings of
Ham Hill stone; the roofs are covered with slate. The
West Tower is of the 15th century; most of the rest of
the church was rebuilt in 1846, retaining in the Chancel a
chancel arch of c. 1200, restored, and in the Nave a
N. arcade of c. 1300, from which the S. arcade was
copied. The churchwardens' accounts record a payment
of £5 11s. 4d. to Edward Mondey for plans, estimates
and inspection, but H. Goodhart-Rendel ascribed the
design to Benjamin Ferrey.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (16½ ft. by 14¾ ft.)
has two-stage buttresses at the eastern corners. The E. window
is of three lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred head
with a label. The S. doorway has a four-centred head and
continuous moulded jambs and a moulded label. The chancel
arch is two-centred and of two chamfered orders; to the W.
the outer order springs from engaged shafts with moulded
bases, scalloped capitals and chamfered abaci; these last continue across the main responds to the E.
The Nave (48½ ft. by 16¾ ft.) has a N. arcade of four two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the piers have four
engaged shafts, with moulded capitals and bases, separated by
hollow chamfers; the responds have attached half-piers and
there is a passage-way cut through the E. respond. The S.
arcade is a copy of the N. arcade. The North Aisle (10 ft. wide)
was rebuilt in 1846 with old stonework for the walling and
new windows. The E. wall has an embattled parapet and the
E. and N. walls have two-stage buttresses; the windows are
each of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil and pierced
spandrels in a two-centred head with a label. The South Aisle
(10 ft. wide), of 1846, has an embattled parapet and two-stage
buttresses; the S. door has chamfered jambs and two-centred
head; the windows are uniform with those in the N. aisle.
The Church, Plan
The West Tower (10 ft. by 11 ft.) is of two stages externally
and three storeys internally, with a projecting vice. It has a
moulded plinth, a weathered offset between the external stages
and an embattled parapet; there are angle buttresses to the E.,
which project into the nave, and diagonal buttresses to the
W. The tower arch is two-centred and of two wave-moulded
orders, the inner order dying into the jambs and the outer being
carried down. In the N. wall the 15th-century doorway to the
vice has a restored chamfered two-centred head; there is also a
19th-century external doorway to the vice; the W. window
is of three lights with restored mullions and moulded vertical
tracery in a two-centred head with a label and head-stops. The
top stage has in each wall a two-light window with blind
tracery in a two-centred head under a moulded label. The
South Porch (9 ft. by 5 ft.) has an outer two-centred archway
with continuous moulded jambs.
The chancel Roof has king-post trusses with arch braces
springing from stone corbels, and arched wind braces. The
nave roof has arch-braced collar-beam trusses springing from
Fittings—Bells: four; 1st inscribed 'Angelus Gabriel', late
14th-century; 2nd inscribed 'Ave Maria', 15th-century; 3rd
and 4th by John Wallis, 1593. Benefactor's Table: In tower,
painted panel of the charity of Mrs. Susanna Toogood, 1826.
Chest: in tower, of cast iron with inscription 'Osmington
1819'. Coffin-lid: in floor of nave, with cross in low relief,
probably 14th-century. Coffin Stools: pair, 17th-century,
repaired. Font: square stone bowl with sunk arched panels in
each side, cylindrical stem with four smaller shafts on restored
chamfered base, c. 1200. Inscriptions and Graffiti: on N. side of
tower arch, RNP 1626; on lead of tower roof, churchwardens'
initials dated 1806 and various scratchings. Monuments and
Floor-slabs. Monuments: In chancel—on E. wall, (1) of
Dorothy Cookson, 1821, white tablet on grey ground signed
Osmond, Sarum; (2) of the Rev. John Fisher, M.A., vicar, 1832,
white tablet on grey ground signed Osmond, Sarum; on N.
wall, (3) of Elizabeth Fonblanque, 1844, white tablet with
moulded and reeded surround and pediment, erected by her
sister Harriet Philipps, signed Raggett, Weymouth; (4)
standing wall-monument with Tuscan side columns standing
on pedestals and carrying enriched entablature above which is a
shield-of-arms of Warham within a roundel and scroll-work;
between the columns is a panel with scrolled surround in a
moulded frame; inscriptions on panel and frieze have neither
name nor date; early 17th-century; on S. wall, (5) of William
Hollingworth Philipps, 1839, white marble tablet with shield-of-arms within a pediment on grey ground, signed Adron,
New Rd., London; (6) of Harriett, widow of W. H. Philipps'
1845, stone tablet in Gothic frame with leaf and flower
decoration, signed Osmond, Sarum. In N. aisle, (7) of Thomas
Howel, 1850, white marble tablet on black ground; (8) of
Harriet Howel, no date, mid 19th-century; (9) of Ann, widow
of Elliot Grasett of Barbadoes, 1840, white marble scroll and
urn on black ground by Reeves and Son, Bath. In S. aisle, (10)
of Thomas Gilbert, 1790, Mary his wife, 1790, and two daughters, white marble tablet with cornice carrying an urn against
black ground with shield-of-arms and reeded corbel below;
(11) of Sarah Grasett, 1837, white marble tablet on grey ground
by G. Lewis, Cheltenham; (12) of Marianne Girardot, 1821,
white marble tablet on grey ground. In churchyard—S.E.
of chancel, (13) of Henry Baily, 1774, headstone (Plate 21)
carved with figure rising from the grave; S. of chancel, (14)
of Katherine, wife of John Fooks, 1714, headstone; (15) of
William Hellier, 1711, and Mary his daughter, 1713, headstone;
S. of S. aisle, (16) of Robert Godsall, 1678, table-tomb; W.
of tower, (17) of Caleb Angel, 1774, headstone (Plate 21)
carved with cherubs holding a crown over a mourning figure,
similar in style to (13). Floor-slabs: In nave, (1) inscribed MG
1821. In N. aisle, (2) of William Stockesley, 1717, and William
his son; (3) of Nicholas Hitt, 1715/6. In porch, (4) of Alice
Welch, 1831. Plate: includes a cup of 1658 inscribed 1683
(Plate 23), a stand-paten of 1709 and a porringer with lid of
1732, inscribed 1731. Scratch-dial: on buttress at S.W. of tower.
Miscellanea: loose in chancel, stone fragment carved with
chevron ornament, 12th-century.
a(2) Ringstead Old Church, now Glebe Cottage
(747817), immediately N. of the site of West Ringstead
village (27), has walls of local rubble and a roof covered
with modern tiles. Only the chancel and chancel arch
survive from the original building which has been
considerably altered by the insertion of domestic door
and window openings. A church, probably on this site,
is first referred to in 1227 (see Monument 27) and the
surviving fabric appears to be of the 13th century; it
was largely destroyed or abandoned, with the village,
in late mediaeval times.
Architectural Description—The Chancel (19½ ft. by 12⅓ ft.)
has a wide plinth, and the line of the original E. gable is visible
below the present roof-line. There was no E. window and no
traces of original openings remain in the N. and S. walls.
At the W. end of the S. wall a break in the masonry in line
with the W. side of the W. wall of the chancel marks the end
of the original work. The two-centred chancel arch is of two
chamfered orders; it is largely blocked but survives to its full
height. Nothing remains of the original nave. The presence of
a Burial Ground S. of the church has been indicated by numerous finds of bones in the cottage garden. The following
fragments of mediaeval dressed stone have also been found:
(1) a piece of window tracery with double hollow chamfer on
one side; (2) moulded base or capital, much damaged; (3)
two pieces of cross-finials; (4) part of a cresset with traces of
three sinkings; (5) circular stone basin, damaged, possibly a
stoup. Pottery from the garden includes one sherd probably
of the 13th century, some fragments of the 16th and 17th
centuries and much 18th-century ware.
Post-mediaeval alterations—A floor has been inserted in the
chancel, supported by a roughly chamfered ceiling beam. A
fireplace at the E. end has a chamfered bressummer and a
bread oven at the N. side. The building has been heightened
and rooms have been added to W. and N. None of the
domestic features appears earlier than the 18th century.
a(3) School (180 yds. S.), of one storey with rubble
walls, rendered, and tiled roofs, is dated 1835. It is in the
Tudor style and has a large porch with outer doorway
with four-centred head and a square label and formerly
had two inner doorways leading to two classrooms; the
two rooms have now been thrown into one.
(3) Osmington School dated 1835
a(4) Osmington Manor (15 yds. N.), of two storeys
with walls of squared rubble, is ruinous and has no
roof. It is of the 17th century, but an irregular break in
the masonry shows that it is not all of one build.
On plan the house comprised three rooms and a through
passage; a change in floor levels suggests that the E. part may
be a reconstruction of, initially, a mediaeval hall next to the
passage and a solar over a low cellar at the E. end. The S. front
has three windows of three lights with labels and another
window of two lights. The N. wall has mostly fallen but the
doorway to the passage remains, set in a slight projection.
Doorways have ovolo-moulded or hollow-chamfered jambs;
two, one reset in a garden wall, have four-centred heads.
a(5) The Old Vicarage (40 yds. S.E.) is of two storeys with
rubble walls mostly rendered with stucco and a slate-covered
roof. It is stated in the church records that in 1819 £500 was
spent on modernisation, and the form of the house is now entirely of that date. The house is L-shaped; the main range runs
N.-S. and comprises three rooms on plan of which the middle
one projects as a bow to the E.; a wing containing the entrance
hall projects to the W. and the staircase is in the re-entrant
a(6) The White House, formerly The Elms (100 yds. S.S.E.),
has walls rendered with stucco and roofs covered with slate.
It was built in the early 19th century on a rectangular plan with
front and back room to each side of a central stairhall and a
projecting kitchen wing. The symmetrical front has two
large two-storey bow windows (Plate 41).
The following monuments unless otherwise described
are of one storey and attics or two storeys with walls of
rubble and thatched roofs, and they are of the late 18th
or early 19th century.
a(7) House (110 yds. S.S.E.), with rendered walls and slate-covered roof, is of c. 1840 and has a symmetrical front with
central doorway under a blind fanlight in a three-centred
a(8) East Farm, house (220 yds. S.E.), is of the 17th century.
It was built on a three-room plan with end chimneys and a
central unheated room, and enlarged to the N. The date 1697
carved over the entrance doorway to the S. part is probably the
date of the N. extension. The W. front retains some stone-mullioned windows, of which two in the extension are much
taller than the one in the original building.
a(9) Rose Cottage (160 yds. E.) has a two-room plan with
central entrance and one end chimney.
a(10) House with Post Office (100 yds. N.E.) is of c. 1800.
a(11) Barn at Court Farm (100 yds. N.) has a roof partly
covered with corrugated iron.
a(12) House (220 yds. N.) has roofs covered with slate and
tile and incorporates part of a 17th-century building which has
been heightened but retains an original three-light mullioned
a(13) Cottages, two, 75 yds. N.W. of (12), are probably of
c. 1800 and c. 1840 respectively.
a(14) Charity Farm (300 yds. N.) is probably of the
late 16th century. The roof is now covered with iron.
It was purchased in 1665 by the Corporation of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis with a bequest from Sir
Samuel Mico, who intended the rent to be devoted to an
annual sermon and to the relief of the poor (Hutchins II,
508). The building is of interest as having been a long-house with dwelling and byre under one roof, but it
has been partly reconstructed and much altered.
Charity Farm, Plan
The doors and windows are all modern. On plan the building comprised two rooms, a through passage and a byre. The
passage and the byre were separated by a timber partition now
replaced by a stone wall a little further S.E. and rising to first-floor level only; the entrance to the hall was between the main
fireplace and a staircase, part of which projected outside the
line of the main wall. The exposed ceiling beams are hollow
chamfered. The parlour to the N.W. may be a 17th-century
addition or rebuilding; it has a plain chamfered ceiling beam.
Over the hall, the passage and the byre are rough raised-cruck
a(15) Cottage (530 yds. N.N.W.) is of the 17th century and
was built probably on a two-room plan with one chimney but
has been much altered.
a(16) East Farm Dairy, house (733824), has a tiled roof. On
plan a central entrance and stairhall are set between two rooms
with end chimneys. Barn has a single porch.
a(17) Osmington Mill (736817), of two storeys and attics,
has a slated roof. None of the mill machinery remains. A
two-storey brick house was built against the mill in the mid
a(18, 19) Cottages, two (735817).
a(20) Upton House (741815) was built in the late 18th
century with a central entrance lobby and staircase between two
rooms with end chimneys, and extended to the E. in the early
a(21) Ice-house (746816), of brick under an artificial mound
of earth, is probably of the mid 19th century.
b(22) Ringstead Dairy, house (753820), has rendered walls
and slated roof.
a(23) Upton Farm, house (742831), of three storeys with
rendered walls and slated roof, is mostly of the late 19th
century but incorporates an early 19th-century house. Granary,
with brick walls and slated roof, is raised on semicircular
a(24) Pixon Barn (735838) has a slated roof.
a(25) White House Dairy, house (717833), has a symmetrical front with central entrance leading to a through
passage and staircase.
a(26) Eweleaze Barn (715821) has a roof covered with iron;
it is similar to the barn at East Farm Dairy (16).
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
a(27) West Ringstead, deserted mediaeval village
(747815), lies on the narrow coastal plain 12/3 miles S.E.
of Osmington village (Fig. p. 182). The remains cover
about 10 acres of a pasture sloping gently S. from the
100 ft. contour to about 50 ft. above sea level where
they end 70 yds. from the edge of the low bluff above
the beach. Most of the site is apparently on Kimmeridge
Clay but there is Coombe Rock S. of it. A stream flows
S. through a narrow gully W. of the lower part of the
site and another stream skirts the remains on the N.
The whole site is dominated on the N. by the chalk
escarpment, 400 ft. high, a gap in which provides the
main approach; on its slopes are extensive remains
of strip lynchets (28). (See Fig. p. 187.)
Ringstead was a parish before it was united with
Osmington, and a church is first referred to in 1227
(E. A. and G. S. Fry, Dorset Records V (1896), 40).
Within it lay East and West Ringstead, first recorded in
1285, Middle Ringstead and Upringstede (Fägersten, 156)
now probably Upton. The following documents quoted,
which furnish some evidence of population at various
periods, relate to the whole parish and its settlements,
not to the deserted village of West Ringstead alone.
Osmington. (27) West Ringstead, deserted mediaeval village.
The four Ringsteads listed in Domesday Book had a
total recorded population of nineteen (Hutchins II,
506). In the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1327 seventeen persons
are recorded and thirteen in that of 1333 (P.R.O.
E.179/103/4, 5). The fact that the parish was taxed,
though only for one mark, in 1428 indicates that there
were more than ten inhabitants (Feudal Aids, 1284–1431,
II (1900), 88). 'Divers tenements' were mentioned in
1431 and others listed in 1447 when a court of Milton
Abbey ordered repairs to two 'halls and granges'
(Court Roll of Manor of Milton Abbey (1447),
D.C.R.O. 5655). In 1488 the rectory was united to the
vicarage of Osmington on account of the poverty
(ob exilitatem) of both parishes (Epis. Reg. Langton,
f. 29b, Diocesan Registry, Salisbury). A muster-roll
of 1542 omits any reference to Ringstead as a separate
tithing, but in the Hearth Tax Assessment of 1664 three
householders are recorded (C. A. F. Meekings, Dorset
Hearth Tax Assessments (1951), 80). There appears to be
no support for the tradition that Ringstead was destroyed
by pirates or French raiders.
The surviving earthworks are fairly well preserved; the
main visible disturbances are due to a system of sluices and
sharp-cut channels whereby, until quite recently, water was
distributed over the already existing platforms, making a watermeadow of them. The scarp blocking the hollow-way 150 yds.
W.S.W. of Glebe Cottage is due to this system (all but this are
omitted from the plan). The remains of houses and yards lie
due S. of Glebe Cottage (Monument 2), which incorporates all
that is left of the church. They are mostly grouped in a compact block of some 2½ acres. A well-marked hollow-way,
in places 5 ft. deep, flanks the area on the W., and there are
lesser approach tracks, notably in the N.E.
The sites of four buildings are grouped around the N. part of
a slightly raised area (a), about 70 ft. by 110 ft., scarped at its
S. end and with a rather irregular surface. They vary in size
from 18 ft. by 10 ft. to 32 ft. by 17 ft. Four other sites of
buildings are less clear. W. of (a) are what seem to be the broken
outlines of two buildings with their long axes E.–W. and a
close to the S. To the E. of (a) an angular depression, possibly
with an entrance in the E. side, opens on to a small close
bounded on the E. by a narrow sunken track which runs up to
a pair of low banks 15 ft. apart (crest to crest); these run
parallel for 30 ft. but the S. bank bends inwards at the W. end
where the bank of an adjoining building site forms a clear
termination, while at the E. end there is a slight trace of a
cross bank; breaks in the sides are not certainly original. A
narrow platform, 33 yds. S. of (a), is sunk 2 ft. into the close N.
of it, and immediately E. is a small roughly scooped area with
a flattened floor.
The best preserved building is at (b), where banks with
building stone visible suggest wall footings 2 ft. or more high
enclosing an area of 55 ft. by 15 ft. A well-defined entrance
on the W. side opening on to a sunken area with one faint
subdivision is matched by a less clear break opposite. Two
other smaller building sites lie S.W. of (b) at the N.W.
corner of a scarped close. Separated from the main block by a
section of sunken way leading towards the church is (c), the
site of a building well-marked by banks up to 2 ft. high and
apparently with a cross-division and a single entrance on the
At the extreme N.E. of the site are the remains of an oblong
mound 4 ft. high. The enclosures lying immediately E. and
W. of the S. parts of the village are marked by low lynchets
generally ill-defined. Further S. is a well, to E. of which is a
circular sinking, 4 ft. across and 1 ft. deep.
Many finds relating to the church and to its secular occupation have been made in the garden of Glebe Cottage (see
a,b(28) Strip Lynchets and Broad Ridge-and-Furrow
(see Fig. p. 187). Remains of strip lynchets cover about 130
acres; some 80 acres appear to be associated with Osmington
village (extending up to 4/5 mile away), and 50 acres with
The strips lie on chalk, clay, limestone and sandy subsoils.
Most follow the contours but some around 721832 and 733820
run against them, though not directly up-and-down. All
except two at about 748821 end in ramps or by running out
on to an unploughed area. Breaks probably corresponding
with furlong ends are detectable in most groups (as in Winterbourne Steepleton 12). Around 74748220 the natural slope
is so steep that it suggests some preparation of the ground was
necessary before first ploughing. (The almost flat treads in the
area are notable.)
The main groups are at about 721832, 728834 to 732834,
732838, N.W. and N.E. of Osmington; 731822 and 733820,
S.E. of Osmington; and 748820 N. of West Ringstead.
Lengths vary from 130 yds. to 220 yds., widths of treads from
3 yds. to 50 yds., heights of risers from 1 ft. to 30 ft. Slopes
along treads are up to 16° and across them up to 10°.
Broad ridge-and-furrow with ridges about 11 yds. wide
and gently curved in plan occurs over about 15 acres near
719834 and with ridges 8 yds. wide around 748820.
a(29) White Horse, hill-figure (715843), is cut into
White Horse Hill, at the extreme N.W. of the parish,
on a S.-facing slope of about 26°. It was cut in 1815
and represents King George III on his charger (Plate
114); the whole is 280 ft. long and 323 ft. high. (Hutchins II, 505; cf. M. Marples, White Horses and Other
Hill Figures (1949), 123–7. R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821:
Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments
(30–41) Round Barrows, p. 446.
(42) Enclosure, p. 503.
(43, 44) Roman Remains, p. 603.
Ancient Field Group (12), p. 628.