31 STEEPLE (9180)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 88 SB, bSY 97 NW, cSY 98 SW)
The parish, covering nearly 3,000 acres, lies 4 m.
S.S.W. of Wareham. It stretches some 3½ m. from N. to
S. and has a small projection reaching to the low
Kimmeridge Clay cliffs of Kimmeridge Bay. From the
sea the ground rises steeply to an E.–W. ridge of Portland and Purbeck Stone and then falls again to the deep
valley of the West Corfe River cut in the soft Wealden
Beds. On the N. side of this valley the steep hog'sback ridge of the Chalk Purbeck Hills rises to a height
of more than 600 ft. Under the N. slope of the ridge is a
band of Reading Beds and London Clay, partly occupied
by the park and woods of Creech Grange, beyond which
a large tract of undulating heathland stretches N. on
Bagshot Beds, all under 200 ft. above O.D.
As in other Purbeck parishes, many of the scattered
farms are recorded in Domesday Book as tiny settlements. Each is associated with a near-by rectangular
block of land, the shape of which is still preserved in
continuous lines of field boundaries (see Pt. 1, Fig.
p. xxxviii); some have earthwork remains of the early
settlements. In the valley of the W. Corfe River, S. of
the Purbeck Hills, are Lutton, Steeple itself, Blackmanston and Hurpston. Hyde, though not recorded
until 1244, may also be an early settlement. N. of the
Purbeck Hills settlements at West Creech and Creech
Grange are probably two of the four Creeches listed in
Local stone has been used for the walls of the older
buildings and stone slates for most of the roofs. Among
the later farms scattered over the N. part of the parish,
all but two are of a date later than 1850 and in these two
some use is made of cob. Together with Lutton they
lie in the Army range area and are derelict.
The Church, Creech Grange and its Chapel and
Steeple Manor House are the principal monuments.
c(1) The Parish Church of St. Michael stands in the
S. part of the parish and has walls of rubble and ashlar
and roofs covered with stone slates. The Nave was built
early in the 12th century and retains the original S.
doorway. The West Tower was added early in the 16th
century, the South Chapel (now the Vestry) later in the
same century, and the North Pew early in the 17th
century. The chancel arch is probably of the 16th
century although the Chancel was mostly rebuilt
between 1852 and 1861, when also the South Porch was
Architectural Description—The Chancel (16¾ ft. by 13¼ ft.)
has in the S. wall a 16th-century two-centred archway to the
S. chapel. The chancel arch is two-centred, of one chamfered
order with continuous stop-chamfered responds above a
chamfered plinth. This last, which is continued to return along
the N. and S. walls of the nave, is of 12th-century origin. The
South Chapel (9 ft. by 12½ ft.) has walls of squared rubble with
a chamfered plinth; to the E. is a window of three cinque-foiled
lights in square head; a similar window to the S. has a
moulded label with returned stops; the W. doorway has
moulded jambs and continuous segmental head. High in the
N.W. corner a corbel carries the upper part of the original
S.E. corner of the nave.
The Nave (39½ ft. by 16½ ft.) has walls of random rubble;
they were heightened in the 15th century; the N. wall has,
at the W. end, the chamfered plinth of a clasping buttress;
the opening to the N. pew has a two-centred arched head
of two orders, the inner chamfered and carried on shaped
corbels with moulded imposts; the N. door, now blocked, has
moulded jambs and lintel and deformed semicircular rear arch,
partly rebuilt; the window is a single lancet light of the 13th
century. The S. wall has a restored S. doorway with stop-chamfered jambs, moulded imposts and a semicircular-arched
head of two chamfered orders with a chamfered label, and
three 15th-century windows each of two cinque-foiled lights
in a square head with a label, the W. one only having casementmoulded reveals; the upper part of the eastern window has
been restored. High in the W. part of the wall is a 17th
century window of two square-headed lights with ovolo-moulded reveals and modern mullion. The North Pew (12¾ ft.
by 16 ft.) is of coursed rubble with a plinth to the N. wall
only; in the E. wall is a doorway with chamfered jambs
and continuous four-centred head within a square outer
head, chamfered with sunk spandrels. Over the door is a sunk
panel carved with a shield-of-arms of Lawrence quartering
Washington with crest above, also in a shield, and with
initials and date E L 1616, for Edward Lawrence. The E.
window has three four-centred lights in a square head; the
N. window has three square-headed lights with a restored
Parish Church of St. Michael, Steeple
The West Tower (11¾ ft. by 11¼ ft.) is of ashlar and of three
storeys divided externally into two stages by a moulded string-course, and has a moulded plinth, plain parapet, diagonal two-stage buttresses and a projecting stair turret at the N.E.
corner. The tower arch is two-centred with continuous jambs
splayed to E. and W. above a plain plinth; above the tower
arch and below the nave ceiling is the weathering for a former
low-pitched roof to the nave; the doorway to the stair turret
has a chamfered two-centred head and continuous jambs; the
W. window has been entirely renewed and the head probably
lowered and below it is a blocked doorway with two-centred
head and continuous splayed jambs. At the top of the lower
stage and lighting the second internal storey is a rectangular
opening in the N. wall. The upper stage has a window of two
square-headed lights in each face. The South Porch (8¼ ft. by
6 ft.) is modern; reset in the E. wall is a carved shield-of-arms of
Lawrence quartering Washington, with initials DLE and crest.
The Roof of the nave is ceiled with a 17th-century plaster
barrel vault, renewed in 1954, divided into five bays each of
four panels with shields-of-arms at the intersections, of Lawrence quartering Washington. The N. pew has an open
timber roof of the late 19th century. The S. chapel has a plain
Fittings—Bells: three; 1st inscribed 'Sancta Anna Ora Pro
Nobis' with a maker's mark in the form of a rebus of William
Calverden (Plate 5), early 16th-century, rehung 1961; 2nd
and 3rd loose in tower, by Anthony Bond, 1634. Also, loose
in nave, two bells from Tyneham church: 1st inscribed 'in
nomine domini', c. 1500; 2nd by R. Wells, Aldborne, 1784.
Bell-frame: 17th-century, now dismantled. Brackets: in nave,
on S. wall flanking E. window, two shaped stone corbels.
Brass Indent: in chancel, for small rectangular plate. Coffin-lids:
In chancel, reset in N. wall, (1) of Purbeck marble, 1¾ ft. long,
with raised trefoiled cross on stepped Calvary; in churchyard,
S. of porch, (2) with raised foliated cross on stepped Calvary;
c. 1300. Coffin Stools: pair, with turned legs, late 17th-century.
Communion Rails: of pine with turned balusters between
plain square standards, early 19th-century. Font: Tapered
circular bowl on plain circular stem and base, 13th-century,
on modern octagonal plinth. Monuments and Floor-slabs.
Monuments: in chancel, on S. wall, (1) to Francis Chaldecot,
1636, and Edith (Chaldecot) his wife, 1638, erected by William
Chaldecot, their son, 1641, inscribed slate tablet within an
arched alabaster surround carved with lions' masks and
cherub's head between two doves and side scrolls and
surmounted by cornice supporting shield-of-arms of Chaldecot impaling Chaldecot. Floor-slabs: in chancel, (1) to Mary,
second wife of Nathaniel Bond, 1798; (2) to Elizabeth, wife
of Nathaniel Bond, 1674; (3) to Sarah, wife of William Collens,
1675; (4) to Denis Bond of Grange, 1746. Painting: in nave
on N. wall, stencilled flower sprays, perhaps early 17th-century. Plate: includes cup and cover-paten by Lawrence
Stratford of Dorchester, 1574; stand paten with arms of Bond
impaling Williams, 1716. Table: in nave, of oak with moulded
square legs and moulded central stretcher, late 18th-century.
c(2) Chapel of St. John the Evangelist, at Creech
Grange, has walls faced with local ashlar and roofs
covered with stone slates and modern asbestos. It was
built in 1746 by Denis Bond of Creech Grange and
originally consisted of a nave with a small sanctuary
entered through a mid 12th-century archway (Plate 161),
brought from the priory church at East Holme, and a
W. tower. In 1849 the Rev. Nathaniel Bond rebuilt
the Nave and Tower and added the North Transept; the
tower bell-turret was added later. In 1868 the Chancel
and the Vestry and Organ Chamber were built, the
former S. doorway was moved to the W. wall of the
tower and the S. wall of the nave refenestrated. Nothing
remains of the 1840 refitting (see Fittings, Glass, below).
The reused 12th-century archway from East Holme
is a notable Romanesque feature.
Creech Grange, Chapel of Saint John the Evangelist
Architectural Description—The Chancel Arch is semicircular
and of one plain order on the E. and of two orders on the W.,
the inner order enriched with chevron ornament and the
outer with chevrons enclosing paterae and with bead and
nailhead ornament; the responds have engaged shafts with
carved capitals and moulded abaci which are continued to meet
the N. and S. walls. The shafts stand on 12th-century capitals
reused as bases. The Nave (31 ft. by 18½ ft.) has in the N. wall
an archway to the N. transept of 1849 in 12th-century style
and two windows of single round-headed lights with labels
also of 1849; in the S. wall are three windows of 1868 with
earlier buttresses between them. The North Transept (10 ft. by
9½ ft.) has windows in the E. and N. walls of single round-headed lights with labels uniform with those in the N. wall
of the nave. The West Tower (5 ft. by 7 ft.) is of two stages
surmounted by a bell-turret; the tower arch is round-headed
and springs from reused moulded imposts of the 12th century.
The W. doorway has a segmental head under an archway
enriched with chevron ornament of 1849 in 12th-century style.
Fittings—Bell: one, inaccessible, probably 19th-century.
Font: octagonal stone bowl moulded on the under side on
octagonal black marble shaft, 1849. Glass: in E. window, with
roundels of the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Crucifixion
and the Ascension, and inscription: 'This Chapel was fitted
up at the expense of John Bond of Grange Esq. as a Chapel of
Ease to the Parish of Steeple A.D. 1840. He survived this good
work only four years and died March 18th 1844'; in N.
transept, in N. window, with Christ and the children and
inscription 'This Aisle was erected for the use of the children
of the Sunday School in affectionate remembrance of John
eldest son of Nathaniel Bond, Clerk, & Mary his wife. He was
born Nov. 17 1838 and died February 8th 1849.' Both windows
bear the monogram of Thomas Willament, and the second is
c(3) Bridge (915808), over stream N. of Blackmanston Farm,
is of ashlar and dated with initials J.C. 1824.
c(4) Creech Grange (911822), of two storeys with
attics, has walls mainly of Portland stone and roofs
covered with stone slates (Plates 153, 154). The house was
probably built by Sir Oliver Lawrence who acquired
the site, which had belonged to Bindon Abbey, soon
after the Dissolution in 1539. The original house was
built on a half H-shaped plan with wings projecting to
the W. at the N. and S. ends of the Hall; these wings
are now represented by the drawing room with part of
the library and the writing room with part of the
kitchen. The house was extended to the N. probably
c. 1600. Severe damage was done to the house by Cromwellian forces in 1643.
Nathaniel Bond acquired the house in 1691 and was
succeeded by his son Denis in 1706. An account book
kept by the latter is preserved in the house and shows
expenditure of £1,300 for building work in 1738–41.
He extended the two wings westward and built a new
stairhall between them and remodelled the S. front to a
design by Francis Cartwright of Blandford ('Mr
Cartwright' in Bond's account book). The small single-storey N.W. wing was also built in the 18th century.
In 1846–7 the Rev. Nathaniel Bond carried out extensive
rebuilding work; the original plan and Cartwright's S.
front were retained, but the E. front was rebuilt and
carried up into two new gables for windows to a new
attic storey; new stone-mullioned windows were
provided except in the projecting bay at the S. end
where the 16th-century windows remain. An old picture
in the house shows the E. front of two storeys only and
with hung-sash windows. The ground floor of the S.
wing, previously divided into three rooms, was rearranged as two and a new staircase was built. The
dining room W. of the stairhall is modern. (Hutchins I,
598, 605; Country Life, LXX (1931), 252; A. Oswald,
Country Houses of Dorset (1959), 84.)
The Classical S. elevation is of interest as the architect
and date of construction are known; the E. front is a
successful piece of mid 19th-century reconstruction in
the local Tudor style.
Creech Grange in the Parish of Steeple
Architectural Description—The East Front (Plate 154) is
faced with Portland ashlar. Near the centre is a three-storeyed
porch with moulded string-courses between the storeys and
small octagonal buttresses at the angles finishing above the
roof in twisted shafts with foliage finials; on the apex of the
gable is a similar shaft and finial. The entrance has a moulded
four-centred head and continuous jambs finished with moulded
stops; above, under the first-floor window, is a panel carved
with a shield-of-arms of Bond. Against the N. side of the porch
is a small projection with an embattled parapet. At the S. end
the original S. wing projects slightly and has a gable with
finial at the apex in the form of a lion; below the gable is a
projecting two-storey bay perhaps retaining original 16th-century stonework in the plinth and water-tabling and with
16th-century windows. Between the windows is a panel
carved with an achievement-of-arms of Bond. At the N. end
of the whole front is a bolder projection than that at the S.
end; it also has a gable crowned by a finial in the form of a
lion. The lights of the 16th-century windows in the bay at the
S. end have arched heads and moulded jambs and mullions;
all the other windows, which are of 1846–7, have similar
arched lights but the jambs and mullions have simple recessed
hollow chamfers except in the N. projection, where the 16th-century mouldings are imitated. All the later windows have
The South Elevation (Plate 154) is faced with Portland ashlar;
the centre part projects slightly and has rusticated quoins; the
ends are finished with rustication forming inset pilasters above
which an entablature is carried across the whole elevation
with a pediment over the central projection and a balustraded
parapet to each side. The mouldings defining the entablature
are very slight except in the cornice to the central pediment
which also has modillions. The doorway is formed by RomanDoric pilasters and entablature, above which is a bust of
William III in Roman dress; the windows have double-hung
sashes set within moulded architraves with keystones. A later
window has been added within the pediment.
The West Elevation is rendered in stucco; the ends of the
extensions to the original wings are gabled and have windows
with double-hung sashes within architraves with plain key-blocks. The centre part is modern but has doorway, windows,
cornice and balustraded parapet of the 18th century reused
from the W. wall of the stairhall.
The North Side of the kitchen wing is built of Purbeck
rubble and has a ground-floor window of five lights which is
probably of the 16th century; it has a restored label with
19th-century shield-stops. The North-East Wing has N. and W.
walls of rubble with restored mullioned windows with labels
and 19th-century W. porch.
Inside, the Hall is lined with 19th-century panelling with
shields-of-arms and the ceiling is divided into square panels
by moulded ribs; the fireplace has a Gothic stone surround with
shields-of-arms and initials N.B. and N.M. for Nathaniel Bond
and Nathaniel and Mary. The Drawing Room was enlarged in
the 19th century and has a panelled ceiling and moulded
cornice of that date; the walls are lined with eared panels
above a dado, mostly of the mid 18th century; the fireplace
has a marble surround, pulvinated frieze enriched with laurel
leaves and enriched cornice; the overmantel has a panel
formed by pilasters, cornice and pediment with pendants
at each side. The bay window to the E. is framed by 19th-century Corinthian pilasters and contains stained glass shields-of-arms of Bond; seven, of the 17th century, show Bond
quarterly impaling (1) Lawrence, (2) Williams, (3) Colt, (4)
Williams, (5) Dummer, (6) Lloyd, and the seventh, Bond
quarterly of twenty. Twelve impaled shields supplied for the
house by Thomas Willement in 1835 are not certainly
The Library is divided by a screen of two Ionic columns
between pilasters replacing the end wall of the original
building; the fireplace has a marble surround with side
pilasters curved on plan, a scrolled head and, above the centre,
acanthus foliage. The Writing Room is lined with early 18th-century panelling; the fireplace has an eared surround with
scrolled side brackets, plain frieze with a central panel enclosing
a scallop, and moulded marble cornice. The Staircase of the
mid 19th century has a cut string above a continuous, pulvinated lower string, with turned and moulded balusters. Over
the staircase is a lantern with clearstorey lights surrounded by
elaborate plasterwork, all of the mid 19th century. On the
first floor a room over the library is lined with bolection-moulded oak panelling and has a bolection-moulded fireplace
Outbuildings—N. of the house a range of outbuildings running N.-S. is of the 18th century and has been refitted with
new windows to form living accommodation. The stable
building, a long range running E.-W., is of the 17th century;
the higher part to the E. is the earlier and contains a doorway
with moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs; in the
later W. part is an 18th-century doorway with a round head,
key-block, and moulded architrave. Garden walls projecting
E. from the ends of the E. front have gateways with wrought-iron gates and scrolled cresting between rusticated pillars.
W. of the house are three artificial lakes, the first of formal
rectangular shape and having at its W. end, on a Portland stone
pedestal, a marble statue of a man in Roman dress, of c. 1700
Grange Arch (912817) was built by Denis Bond before 1746
(Bond papers) as an 'eye-catcher' to form an architectural
focus to the view southward from the Grange (Plate 58).
It may be compared with the three-arched 'eye-catcher' at
Rousham, Oxon., of c. 1740. A central round-headed archway
is set under an embattled parapet, and walls extending to each
side in two stepped bays contain square-headed openings and
round-headed recesses under plain parapets finished with stone
c(5) Manor House (130 yds. N. by E.), of two storeys
with attics, has walls of coursed rubble with ashlar
dressings and roofs covered with stone slates. The house
was built perhaps c. 1600 on a simple rectangular plan
running N.E.-S.W. and was enlarged in the 17th
century by the addition of a S.E. wing and a projection
in the angle so formed. On the N.W. front of the original
building is a panel with the date 1698 and initials
RCR surmounted by a crest of Clavell, probably
commemorating the remodelling of the building by
Roger and Ruth Clavell (Hutchins I, 570, 597). Soon
afterwards, at the beginning of the 18th century, the
same members of the Clavell family added a N. wing.
Further extensive additions to the N.E. are modern.
Manor House, Steeple
The original building retains one small original square-headed window to the N.W. and two original windows, one
of two lights, in the S.W. end; the entrance doorway has a
moulded architrave of 1698 and the other N.W. windows
have wooden casements under segmental-arched heads
on the ground floor and under timber lintels on the floor
above. The S.E. wing has stone-mullioned windows uniform
with the original windows of the earlier building, but the one
to the ground floor on the S.E. end is modern and those above
it have labels. The ground-floor window in the S.E. side of the
earlier building is modern. The N. wing has a neat symmetrical
elevation to the S.W.; the openings have moulded architraves
with keystones and some of the windows retain old iron
casements with quadrant stays.
In the S.E. wing some of the doorways have original 17th-century moulded wooden frames, and on the first floor is an
original fireplace with moulded stone jambs and lintel. The
entrance hall, the drawing room in the N. wing and three of
the bedrooms are lined with early 18th-century panelling in
two heights with a moulded cornice. The main staircase,
probably of 1698, has close strings, turned balusters and square
newels capped with ball finials.
c(6) Blackmanston Farm, house (915807), of two
storeys with attics, has walls of coursed rubble with
ashlar dressings and roofs covered with stone slates. The
house was built in the late 16th century on a two-room
plan with a staircase in a projecting wing, which has
been demolished. Early in the 17th century a through
passage and third room were added to the E. end together
with a two-storey porch. A long wing to the N. is
partly of later date but includes a building, possibly of
the 17th century, which was originally separate from
the house and to which it is now joined by a single-storey structure.
On the S. front the porch is entered by an archway with
moulded four-centred head and continuous jambs. To the
W. are four-light ground-floor windows with stone mullions
and labels, and two-light first-floor windows; to the E. the
windows have been blocked by the later insertion of a chimney, the third room having been originally unheated. Stonemullioned windows also remain in the upper part of the W.
end and, blocked, in the N. wall. Other windows, including
those in the N. wing, are not original. The interior has been
c(7) Hyde Cottage (918807), of two storeys with
walls of rubble and roofs covered with stone slates, was
built c. 1600 on a T-shaped plan with the back wing
placed off centre and a stair turret in a re entrant angle.
The back wing has been completely rebuilt and the
stair turret demolished. The original plan and the
17th-century plan of the Manor House (5) are comparable.
The original windows in the main range have ashlar dressings and mullions; in section some of these are hollow-chamfered, some ovolo-moulded and some ogee-moulded; most
of the windows also have moulded labels. Two doorways to
the former stair turret have moulded four-centred heads and
similar doorways lead into the S. wing. Two original fireplaces
have moulded stone jambs and heads.
c(8) Hurpston, house (924806), of two storeys with walls
of rubble and roof covered with stone slates, was built in the
late 18th century on a two-room plan with symmetrical
elevation; a wing has been added at the back. (Derelict)
c(9) House (200 yds. N.), of one storey with attics and with
rubble walls and thatched roof, is probably of the late 17th
century but has been much altered.
c(10) Steeple Leaze Farm, house (909806), of two storeys
with rubble walls and slated roof, is probably of the early
18th century but has been much altered and at one time was
adapted to form two tenements.
b(11) Shepherd's Cottage (903799), of two storeys with
rubble walls and thatched roof, is of the late 18th century.
c(12) Lutton Farm, house (901809), of two storeys with
walls of rubble and roof covered with stone slates, is of the
late 17th or early 18th century. The windows are of two lights
with ashlar dressings and mullions and over the lower windows
is a weathered string-course. Barn, W. of house, is of the 17th
century; it comprises seven bays with the roof carried on
jointed-cruck trusses with roughly arch-braced collar beams.
c(13) Broadmoor Farm, house (900830), is mainly of mid
19th-century brick but includes some earlier cob and rubble
a(14) Rookery Cottages, a pair (888829), built in the mid
19th century with walls mainly of cob but partly with original
brick facing, has a central chimney built of cob, about 7 ft.
square at the base and tapered to support a small brick shaft
above the roof. (Ruinous)
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks (Fig., Pt. 1,
c(15) Settlement Remains at Lutton (901809), cover some
5 acres near the deserted farm (12). The site was 'anciently a
manor and hamlet and a member of Povington' (Hutchins
(1st ed.) I, 207). At least three house platforms stand out dry
from water-logged surroundings in two small areas. Traces of
broad and narrow rig remain to the S. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK
c(16) Settlement Remains (910809), formerly part
of Steeple, cover about 1½ acres around the church; the
village had been partly depopulated for a farm by the
17th century (Hutchins (1st ed.) I, 202).
The remains consist of a roughly rectilinear pattern of
hollow-ways on either side of a small W.-E. valley, together
with banks, closes and platforms. At least three of the platforms lie due E. of the church, one originally about 75 ft.
square; a roughly circular mound 25 ft. in diam. lies to the
S.E. (Steeple 26). N.W. of the church (90978104) are three
other platforms 25 ft. square.
In the S.W. corner of the area (90928091) is a circular
embanked hollow about 12 ft. in diam., perhaps a windmill
site, with an entrance into a hollow-way on the N.W. (R.A.F.
V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 5418.)
c(17) Settlement Remains at Blackmanston (916806)
lie about ⅓ mile S.E. of Steeple Church on either side
of the Corfe River, here a very narrow stream flowing
in a deep-cut channel. The settlement is identifiable in
Domesday Book (Fägersten, 134).
The site is sheltered by the limestone ridge to the S. and is
on Wealden Beds, but the lower areas N. of the river are now
very wet. Immediately S.E. of Blackmanston Farm and above
the 200 ft. contour line is an almost flat area of about 1 acre;
it is defined on the E. and S. by a scarp up to 3 ft. high skirted
by a hollow track. At the N.E. two platforms, 30 ft. by 12 ft.
and 45 ft. by 15 ft., with traces of limestone in their scarps, are
inset into the scarp bounding the area. Another platform on the
W. has been cut by the road dividing the site from the farm
buildings. There are several other indistinct levelled areas and
sites of former closes are marked on the slope to the S. by
disturbed banks and ditches. On the S. side of the river, 100
yds. to the S.E. of these remains, is an isolated platform 18 ft.
by 15 ft.: when this was recently disturbed, ashlar was found
as well as rough limestone. (R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821:
c(18) Settlement Remains at Hurpston (925806), cover
1 acre around the Farm, itself now deserted; in Domesday Book
the place is called 'Herpere' (Hutchins (1st ed.) I, 206; Fägersten,
136; R.A.F. V.A.P. CPE/UK 1821: 5417).
Other Earthworks and Allied Monuments
(19–25) Round Barrows, p. 451.
(26) Mound, see (16) above.
(27) The Harpstone, p. 515.
(28–31) Roman Remains, p. 608.
Ancient Field Groups (18, 20), p. 629.