6 COMPTON ABBAS (8616)
(O.S., 6 ins. ST 81 NE, ST 81 NW)
The parish, a narrow strip of some 1,450 acres, lies
across the Chalk escarpment, about 2½ m. S. of Shaftesbury. The eastern extremity and the N. and S. sides
of the central part of the parish lie on Chalk at altitudes
approaching 800 ft. The centre of the parish is a deep
valley bounded on N., E. and S. by scarps 300 ft. high;
the valley floor, only 400 ft. above sea-level, is on Upper
Greensand. In the W. part of the parish the land inclines
gently downwards across Upper Greensand, Gault and
Lower Greensand to the Twyford Brook, which crosses
the parish near the 250 ft. contour; to the S. rises a
Chalk outlyer, Elbury Hill. To the W. of the brook
the land is Kimmeridge Clay, about 300 ft. in altitude.
The twin villages of East and West Compton probably
represent original settlements. Twyford and Crocker's
Farm, in the less favoured Kimmeridge Clay area,
appear to be secondary settlements, but nothing is
known of their history. Crocker's Farm is dated 1660.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Mary, near the
centre of West Compton, was built in 1866 and fittings
from the former church in East Compton (see (2)) were
transferred to it.
Fittings—Bells: five; 3rd by John Wallis, inscribed 'Searve
God IW 1616'; 4th inscribed 'Maria' in black-letter, late 15th
or early 16th century; 5th by John Danton, inscribed 'Remember God ID RT 1624'; others modern. Brass: reset in chancel,
of Thomas Lawrence [d. 1640], plate, 12 ins. by 17 ins., with
Latin inscription. Communion Table: of oak, with turned legs,
plain stretchers and scrolled end rails, c. 1700. Font: with
circular tub-shaped bowl with raised foliate scroll decoration,
perhaps of 12th-century origin, but recut probably in 1866;
shaft and pedestal, 1866. Monument: In S. aisle, of Edith
Broughton, 1830, and John Broughton, 1827, marble tablet with
pediment, by Willson, London. Plate: includes plain silver
cup inscribed 'The parrish cupp of Cumpton Abbies 1665', and
paten inscribed 'The plate of the Parish Church of Compton
Abbas', undated, probably 18th century.
(2) The Church of St. Mary (87561880), ruined,
stands in East Compton. Only the late 15th-century
West Tower and the W. wall of the former nave
Architectural Description—The West Tower, of rough ashlar,
is of two stages, with a moulded plinth and the remains of a
parapet (Plate 33); the stages are defined by a weathered string-course and the parapet has a hollow-chamfered and moulded
string-course with gargoyles at the centre of each side and on the
angles. At the S.E. corner is a polygonal vice turret, staged in
correspondence with the tower and capped with weathered
stonework. At the S.W. corner is a diagonal buttress of four
weathered stages; the N.W. corner has no buttress; at the N.E.
corner, the projecting W. wall of the former nave has a low
diagonal buttress of one weathered stage. The two-centred
tower arch is walled up and the mouldings are partly hidden;
it appears to be of two orders, an ogee moulding outlined by a
hollow chamfer. The vice doorway and the W. doorway have
chamfered two-centred heads with continuous jambs. Above
the W. doorway, the W. window is of two trefoil-headed lights
with a tracery light, now gone, in a two-centred head with a
moulded label. In the upper stage the S. side has a chamfered
ogee-headed loop; above this, each side of the tower has a
belfry window of two chamfered, trefoil-headed lights under
a square label.
Compton Abbas, Remains of Old church
Fittings—Bell-cage: much decayed, with inscription 'T.P.
1742'. Cross: of stone, in churchyard, some 10 paces S.E. of
tower, with square stepped base, lower step with hollow-chamfered capping, chamfered square pedestal, and lower part
of octagonal shaft with pyramidal stops; probably 15th century. Doors: of tower vice, with iron studs and strap-hinges,
late 15th century; of W. doorway, similar to foregoing, perhaps 16th century. Monuments: In churchyard, adjacent to
cross, (1) of Robert Thomas, 1703, headstone with wreath
border to inscription panel; 2 paces S.W. of tower, (2) of John
Gould, 1716/7, headstone; 11 paces N.E. of tower, (3) of
Elizabeth Bennett, adjacent to foregoing, (4) of Jenevorah
of-arms of Bennett; adjacent to foregoing, (4) of Jenevorah
Bennett, 1711, headstone. Miscellanea: Enclosing churchyard,
rubble wall, perhaps partly mediaeval, with 18th-century
(3) Crocker's Farm (84641968), house, of two storeys with
attics and with ashlar walls and thatched roofs, dates from 1660.
The original stone windows are of four, three and two square-headed lights under weathered labels with square stops. The
plan is L-shaped, with the main range lying N.—S. and a gabled
W. wing at the N. end. The main doorway is near the middle
of the N. wall and a W. doorway opens near the re-entrant
angle; the latter has a chamfered four-centred head and continuous jambs. Incised on ashlar blocks over the W. doorway
and the adjacent window are 'TD 1660' in an ornamental
margin, and 'ID 1660'. Inside, several rooms retain plank-and-muntin partitions. Fireplaces occur on the S. end wall of the
range and on the W. wall of the wing. Adjacent to the farmhouse on the S.W. is a Granary on staddle stones, with timber
and ashlar walls, and a thatched roof.
(4) House (87061845), with rubble walls and thatched and
slated roofs, is of 18th-century origin. An early 19th-century
extension on the S., originally a dairy, is now incorporated in the
dwelling. The W. front is of one storey with dormer windows
above; the E. front is two storeyed and has square-headed casement windows of two and of three lights; the S. extension has
(5) House (86821840), of two storeys, with squared rubble
walls and thatched roofs, is of the 18th century. Inside, one
room has a large open fireplace and a stop-chamfered ceiling
(6) Whitehall Cottage (86971913), of two storeys, with
coursed rubble walls and a thatched roof, is of the first half of the
18th century. The rubble walls have ashlar quoins. At the
centre of the plan is a large open fireplace with a timber bressummer.
(7) Manor Farm (87591885), house, of two storeys, with
coursed rubble walls and a slate-covered roof, is of the late 18th
century. The S.E. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with
a central doorway in a small porch with a pediment, and with
uniform sashed windows in both storeys. Inside, the plan is of
class T. The S. room has a stone fireplace surround with egg-and-dart enrichment.
(8) Cottages (87571876), two adjacent, of one storey with
attics, with squared rubble walls and thatched roofs, are of
c. 1750. Each tenement has a class-S plan, the fireplaces being set
(9) House (87011836), of two storeys, with walls of ashlar
and rubble, repaired in brickwork, and with slated roofs, is of
late 18th-century origin, but it was extensively altered in the
19th century. Adjacent on the W. is a boundary wall of rusticated ashlar with gate-piers with pyramidal finials; a low
doorway in this wall has an elliptical head and a shaped stone
(10) House (86981838), of two storeys with rubble walls and
a thatched roof, is of the late 18th century. The S. front is
symmetrical and of three bays. The plan is of class T.
Other late 18th and early 19th-century monuments are as
follows. In East Compton: a two-storeyed Farmhouse
(87541869) of c. 1840. In West Compton: a Cottage (87281859)
of c. 1800; Tucker's Farm (87141857), house, formerly two
adjacent cottages; a pair of Cottages (87081850); a Cottage
(86941831). In Twyford: Prystock Farm (85501831), house,
comprising two late 18th-century cottages; Twyford Farm
(85351903), house, of the mid 19th century, with a symmetrical
E. front of three bays.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(11) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the
open fields is unknown. A late 18th or early 19th-century map
(D.C.R.O.) shows nine separate open fields, all apparently in the
last stages of piecemeal enclosure; they existed substantially unaltered in 1844 (Tithe Map). Well preserved contour and
cross-contour strip lynchets in four places in the parish represent
some of these fields: those on the N. and N.E. slopes of Elbury
Hill (863183) were in Hawkam Field; those on the W. of
Melbury Hill (868192) were in Incombe Field; those on the
S. and E. of Melbury Hill (871195) were in Forked Bridge
Field; those on the N.W. slopes of Fontmell Down (877182)
were in Culverland Field.
Roman and Prehistoric
(12) Cross-Dyke (87781979–87701953),running from N.N.E.
to S.S.W. across a ridge which rises steeply westwards to the
summit of Melbury Hill, lies at an altitude of over 600 ft. and
extends across the parish boundary into Melbury Abbas. It is
some 300 yds. in length and comprises a bank with a ditch on
the uphill side. At each end the dyke runs out on the shoulder
of the slope above a combe. A gap of 30 yds. occurs where the
dyke crosses the parish boundary; it is probably an original
entrance, but disturbance makes this difficult to prove. Some
57 yds. S. of the boundary the ditch suddenly deepens and
here, where the earthwork is best preserved, the ditch is 16 ft.
wide and 5 ft. deep; the bank is 20 ft. across, and 8 ft. high
from below and 2 ft. high from above. Near the N. end the
dyke is cut by a deep hollow-way coming from Compton Down.
(13) Bowl Barrow (88511894), over 700 ft. above sea-level,
on the neck of the spur of Compton Down, lies in arable land.
Diam. 45 ft., ht. 1½ ft.
'Celtic' Fields, see p. 120, Group (79).