32 STOKE, EAST (8787)
(O.S. 6 ins. aSY 88 NW, bSY 88 NE)
East Stoke is a parish of some 4,700 acres lying W.
of Wareham and divided into two by the river Frome.
Away from the river, heathland on Bagshot Beds
stretches N. and S.; to the S. a height of 100 ft. above
O.D. is reached only on the summit of Highwood
Heath, but to the N. the ground rises to a rather higher
ridge reaching over 200 ft. in the extreme N.W. In the
N.E. the parish extends over the ridge to the river
Small settlements lie on the river terraces of the Frome
and are now served by two roads running parallel to the
river near the 50 ft. contours. East Stoke, Rushton and
probably West Holme are recorded in Domesday Book;
Woolbridge, Stockford and Binnegar were in existence
by the 14th century, Hethfelton Farm and some old
cottages in the Frome valley were probably new settlements of the 17th century. On the heathland, Hethfelton to the N.W. is recorded in Domesday Book as a
small settlement, and to the S. some development
around Highwood appears on the O.S. map of 1811,
but none of the existing buildings is so early.
Woolbridge Manor, with some of the earliest brickwork in the district, and the undated Battery Bank are
the principal monuments.
b(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, stands on the
S. side of the Wareham-Wool road. The walls are of
coursed squared limestone rubble with dressings of the
same stone; the nave roof is covered with slates with
crested ridge, and the chancel roof is tiled. The Nave
and West Tower were built in 1828 when the old
church (2) was pulled down, the architect being T. E.
Owen of Portsmouth (D.C.C., 24 July 1828); in 1885
a new Chancel was built, the Organ Chamber added and
the nave ceiling and a W. gallery were removed; the
Vestry is modern (1911). The date 1828 is recorded on a
stone tablet on the inner side of the W. wall of the
tower, under the W. window.
Architectural Description—The Chancel has in the N. wall
one window with reset splays and head of 1828 and later
tracery. The Nave (50 ft. by 31 ft.) is symmetrically designed
with single-stage buttresses diagonally at the corners and
between the windows, but the S.E. buttress has been removed
to make way for the organ chamber. The windows in the
N. and S. walls and flanking the tower arch in the W. wall
are all uniform, of two cinque-foiled lights with a quatrefoil
in a two-centred head. The West Tower (8 ft. by 7½ ft.) is of
three storeys with a string-course at the level of the first
floor on the W. elevation only and with three-stage diagonal
buttresses and embattled parapet. The tower arch is segmental
and of a single order. The W. doorway has a widely splayed
two-centred head and continuous jambs. Over the doorway
are two blank shields. Above the W. doorway is a window
uniform with those in the nave and the belfry has in each wall
a window of one trefoiled light.
The Church, Plan
Fittings (some from the old church (2))—Bells: two; 1st
inscribed 'William Dobson of Downham Norfolk founded
A.D. 1829'; 2nd inscribed 'William Lockier church warden
Clemant Tosiear cast me in the year of 1698'. Bell-frame: of
c. 1828, much restored. Coffin Stools: pair, with turned legs,
18th-century. Door: in W. doorway, two leaves divided into
rectangular panels by moulded ribs, 1828. Font: bowl, hexagonal with straight tapered sides, 13th-century, restored, on
modern stem with six free-standing shafts. Monuments: In
nave—on E. wall, (1) to Sarah (Reynolds), wife of Thomas
Witt of Woolbridge, 1814, and Thomas Witt, 1824, white
marble sarcophagus-shaped tablet on grey marble backing
surmounted by urn, signed Warren, Wareham; on S. wall,
(2) to Leonora Sophia (Bond), wife of the Rev. William
Buller, 1836, and another, white marble tablet flanked by
canopied niches in the late Gothic style and with cresting above.
Plate: includes cup of 1826 given by G. R. Robinson, M.P.,
1829; paten of 1828; stand paten given by the Rev. Thos.
Fox, brother of the incumbent, 1829; flagon, of silver plate,
1829. Scratchings: on ceiling beams below belfry, churchwardens' initials I.J. and R.R. dated 1829, also J.R.
b(2) Old Church of St. Mary stands on low-lying
ground S. of the river Frome, ⅓ m. S.W. A fragment
only remains of a mediaeval church which was demolished in 1828. The font in the new church suggests that
there was a church here in the 13th century, but the
surviving remains are of the 15th century and consist of
parts of the S. wall of the nave and of the S. porch. The
remaining foundations of the rest of the church confirm
Hutchins' description of it as a small building comprising nave, chancel and tower (Hutchins I, 422).
In the remaining fragment of the S. wall is a 15th-century
window with casement-moulded jambs, two-centred head
and a label with defaced stops. The window was of three
lights. The S. porch has in the E. wall a small quatrefoil
window with sunk spandrels; the S. archway is two-centred
with continuous moulded jambs carried down to a chamfered
plinth. (The arches of the window and of the entrance to the
porch fell between 1948 and 1963.)
Fittings—Inscription: on S.E. corner of porch, initials E.D.,
T.H., R.H. Monuments and Floor-slab. Monuments: in churchyard, S.W. of porch, (1) to William Lockyer, 1699, headstone
(see parish church (1), under Bells); (2) to Sturton Dawe,
1704; (3) to Richard Smith, 1698; (4) to Jane, wife of Alexander
Lumber, 1711/12; 13 yds. E.S.E. of porch, (5) to Charles
Batten, 1689. Floor-slab: in chancel, to Joseph Goodwin,
1772. Stoup: in porch above seat against E. wall, engaged
semi-octagonal shaft with moulded cap and base and bowl at
top, now broken; over it a recess in the wall with two-centred
head. Sundial: on S.E. corner of porch, scratch dial.
b(3) Holme Bridge (890866), over the R. Frome,
(Plate 33) has six arches spanning about 300 ft. The
oldest part of the bridge is probably of the early 17th
century and comprises three round arches of two orders,
built of limestone and carstone, springing from plain
piers with cutwaters upstream only. In July 1674 at the
Quarter Sessions the bridge was presented as being in
great decay, and it was probably soon afterwards that a
fourth, segmental, stone arch was built to the N. In the
18th century a further arch, of brick, was built at the N.
end, and in the 19th century a stone arch with brick
spandrels was built at the S. end. None of the old
Railway Gatekeepers' Cottages, at Holmebridge
and East Stoke, see p. 416.
a(4) Woolbridge Manor (843872) is of two storeys
with walls of brick and stone and roofs covered with
tiles and stone slates (Plate 155). The property formerly
belonged to Bindon Abbey and was granted to Sir
Thomas Poynings after the Dissolution; later in the
16th century it came to the Turberville family (Hutchins
I, 422) and appears in Thomas Hardy's Tess of the
d'Urbervilles as the farm at Wellbridge to which Angel
Clare took his bride. The main part of the house, facing
N., was built in the early 17th century and was remodelled after the Civil War, c. 1660. Some original
walling S. of the E. end indicates that there was originally
a S.E. wing. A wing to the S.W. has the ground floor
of c. 1660 and the upper floor of the 18th century.
The manor is of interest apart from its literary
associations; the brickwork is some of the earliest in the
district, and the front elevation, though now somewhat
altered, shows considerable originality of design.
The N. front is of 17th-century red brick, diapered in black,
with stone dressings and a moulded stone string over the
ground-floor windows; in the middle is a two-storeyed
porch of which the lower part of the N. elevation is rusticated,
with a narrow niche each side of the entrance archway which
has a segmental head with a decorated keystone springing
from moulded stone imposts. Above the entrance is a circular
stone recess in which is reset part of a stone with the date
1635 and initials I S. To each side of the porch the ground
storey now has one window of three transomed lights under a
label and, close to the porch, a circular window; originally
each large window was flanked by two narrower ones which
are now blocked; the circular windows are later insertions.
Similar groups of three windows on the first floor have
narrow niches in the piers between the openings, but the
outer, narrower openings are again blocked; the window to
the upper part of the porch is also flanked by narrow niches.
The other walls are mainly of stone, but the upper part of
the S. wall is carried up into two gables, mainly of brick,
decorated with tall narrow niches and surmounted by chimneys with two tiers of arched recesses in each side. The upper
part of the S.W. wing is of 18th-century brick. Most of the
windows have stone mullions and transoms. The interior has
been rearranged; the E. room has an open fireplace with a
chamfered stone bressummer and an iron crane; the W. room
has a 17th-century moulded stone fireplace, reset. In the S.W.
wing, the ground-floor ceiling has moulded plaster roundels
and a central pendant within a ring of fruit; the first-floor
landing has the heads and shoulders of two female figures
painted on the plaster (cf. Tess of the d'Urbervilles).
Outbuildings: Barn, to N.E., of the 16th century, has stone
walls partly rebuilt in brick and thatched roof; the main walls
have low two-stage buttresses and the roof (Plate 53) is
carried on jointed crucks with arched-braced collar beams.
In an addition to the E. is reset a cinque-foiled circular stone
window of mediaeval origin. Barn, to N., with walls of brick
on a stone base and tiled roof, is of the 18th century. Barn, W.
of last, with walls of brick on a stone base and thatched roof,
is of the 17th century; it has six bays with a porch and another
entrance opposite. Pigeon House, to N.W., of brick with quoins
plastered to simulate stone dressings and with a tiled roof, is of
The following monuments unless otherwise described are of two storeys with walls of cob and thatched
b(5) Cottage, at Binnegar (883870), is of the late 18th
century and has been enlarged.
b(6) Cottage, near Holme Bridge (890867), is of the late
17th century, built on a central-chimney plan.
b(7) West Holme Lodge (886858), with walls of brick partly
rendered and with roofs covered with tiles and stone slates,
was built in the second quarter of the 18th century (Plate 43).
The E. end room retains an original fireplace surround with
carved enrichment, but the rest of the house has been largely
West Holme Lodge
b(8) West Holme Manor (883858), with walls of squared
stone and roofs covered with modern slates, was built in the
17th century on a three-room plan, lengthened in the 18th
century and considerably enlarged later.
b(9) Cottage, at Rushton (878865), is of the 18th century;
the walls are mostly refaced in brick. (Rebuilt)
b(10) Holme Cottage (871862) was built probably c. 1700
on a central-chimney plan; it has been much altered.
b(11) Manor Farm, house (870865), with walls of brick and
roofs covered with slate, is of the 18th century.
b(12) Old Parsonage (870866), with walls of carstone and
brick and with stone-slated roof, was built in the 17th century,
but is now a ruin.
b(13) East Stoke Mill (871868), with brick walls and tiled
roof, was built c. 1820, but the channel for the undershot
waterwheel is built in ashlar of an earlier date; at the N. end is a
circular building, perhaps used as a corn-drying kiln. The
waterwheel and machinery have been dismantled. (Demolished)
East Stoke Mill
b(14) Hethfelton Farm, house (857873), has brick walls
partly rendered and partly tile-hung and a tiled roof with stone
slates at the verges; it was built in the late 17th century; a
wing was added in the 18th century and lengthened in modern
times. The house has been much altered.
b(15) Hethfelton, house (851882), with rendered walls and
slated roof, was built by Dr. Andrew Bain who purchased the
property in 1796 (Hutchins I, 419).
b(16) Lodge (866873) is octagonal and of the early 19th
b(17) Cottage (867873), of the late 18th century, has been
partly refaced in brick.
b(18) Cottage (870872), of one storey and attic, is of the
late 18th century; one end wall is of stone and the cob has
been partly faced in brick.
b(19) Barn, at Stokeford Farm (65 yds. N.), has brick walls
and is of the 18th century. Cottage, to W., of one storey and
attic, is of the 18th century. (Barn rebuilt)
b(20) Church Cottage (25 yds. N.) is of the 18th century and
partly rebuilt in brick. (Demolished)
(21–49) Round Barrows, p. 451.
(50) Battery Bank, linear dyke, p. 518.
(51–53) Roman Remains, p. 609.