19 PIMPERNE (9009)
(O.S. 6 ins. ST 90 NW, ST 91 SW, ST 80 NE,
ST 81 SE)
The parish, covering some 3,430 acres, extends N.E.
from the R. Stour and lies entirely on Chalk at altitudes
between 170 ft. and 400 ft.; on the S. it adjoins the
town of Blandford Forum (Dorset, III, 16). The north-eastern third of the parish is occupied by a broad dry
valley which drains S. through Blandford to the Stour;
the south-western third comprises several small dry
combes. The area of the parish has been increased by
boundary revisions: land in the S.W. comprising the
Domesday settlement of Nutford (V.C.H., Dorset, iii,
70) was transferred from Blandford Forum to Pimperne
in 1886; land in the S., comprising the manor of
Damory Court, mentioned in 1363, was similarly transferred in 1894. In 1933 small parts of Tarrants Hinton,
Launceston and Monkton were taken into Pimperne,
thus moving the parish boundary away from the village,
through which it formerly passed. The village stands
in the dry valley mentioned above and retains its
mediaeval compactness, largely because the open fields
were not enclosed until 1814 (Award D.C.R.O.).
Newfield Farm in the N. and some cottages in the S.
of the village stand in the area of the former fields.
Excavations in 1960–3 on Pimperne Down yielded important evidence of Iron Age occupation, including a
circular house site.
(1) The Parish Church of St. Peter, near the
N.W. end of the village, was wholly rebuilt in 1870
(Dorset Procs., XXXIX (1918), 108), except for the West
Tower which is of the mid 15th century. Reset in the
present church are the 12th-century chancel arch and
south doorway from the earlier church.
Architectural Description. The former Chancel Arch (Plate
51) stands on the N. of the present chancel. It is two-centred
and on the S. side it is of two orders, the inner order plain, the
outer order with roll-moulded chevron decoration on fascia
and intrados; the N. side is plain. In the outer order the voussoirs are alternately of Greensand and white limestone, the
latter probably from Todber. In the responds, the inner
order has large half-shafts and the outer order has three-quarter
shafts of smaller diameter; the shafts and their bases, with
hold-water mouldings, are of the 19th century; the scalloped
capitals (Plate 9) with scroll-work, leaf decoration and bands
of pellets are original; the hollow-chamfered abaci are restored.
The Doorway (Plate 51), now at the W. end of the S. aisle, was
formerly in the S. wall of the nave (Hutchins I, 293). It has a
semicircular outer head of one order with chevron mouldings
similar to those of the chancel arch, and a hood-mould with
lozenge decoration; below is a tympanum shaped to form a
segmental arch and highly enriched with chevron ornament
and leaf-work (cf. Dorset III, xlvii). The responds have three-quarter shafts with scalloped capitals with leaf enrichment;
the capitals are original, but shafts, bases and abaci are of the
19th century. Hutchins's engraving (I, 294) shows bases
different from those now seen.
The West Tower has a high chamfered and hollow-chamfered
plinth and is in three stages defined by hollow-chamfered
string-courses; the parapet, gargoyles and pinnacles are of
1870. The western corners have three-stage diagonal buttresses with weathered offsets; a similar diagonal buttress
occurs on the N. side near the N.E. corner; in a corresponding
position on the S. side is an octagonal vice turret of 1870. The
tower arch is two-centred and of three hollow-chamfered
orders; the outer order dies into chamfered responds and the
inner orders spring from angel corbels. The west window has
three trefoil-headed lights with vertical tracery in a two-centred
head under a roll-moulded label with head-stops; the label
is perhaps earlier than the 15th-century window, and reset.
In the second stage, the S. side of the tower has a window of
two trefoil-headed lights with a quatrefoil tracery light in a
two-centred head under a hollow-chamfered label. In the
third stage, each side of the tower has a belfry window of
two lights with blind trefoil heads and blind vertical tracery in
a two-centred outer head without a label.
Fittings—Bells: five; 4th inscribed 'William Pitt, George
Selby, R.L. 1703'; tenor recast in 1846 with former inscription 'Glory be to God on high' in Lombardic letters; others
1891. Benefactor's Table: of wood, with gilt lettering recording
Charity of George Ryves, 1685, below triangular finial with
cartouche painted with arms of Ryves; 1846. Brass: In
vestry, reset on W. wall, panel 1½ ft. square (Plate 14) with
inscription commemorating Dorothy Williams, 1694, with
representation of soul rising from death-bed, engraved by
Edmund Culpeper. Chair: of oak, with fretted back and
shaped top, 18th century. Chest: of oak, heavily bound with
iron, with two hasps and staples for lock-bar, and central lock
with scroll-sided escutcheon plate, 17th century. Door:
in W. doorway, of oak, dated 1847. Font: of stone (Plate 11)
with round bowl enriched with foliate scroll-work and pellet
banding on tapering cylindrical stem with moulded base, with
masks in spandrels; bowl 12th century, restored in 19th century; stem and base probably 19th century. Font-cover, of
stone, tent-shaped, with pierced spandrels and pellet-enriched
ribbing; 19th century (Hutchins I, 293).
Monument and Floor-slab. Monument: In vestry, of Dorothy
Williams, 1694, see Brass. Floor-slab: reset at top of tower vice,
Purbeck marble floor-slab of William M[artin, 1608 ?], (Hutchins I, 295). Niche: In S.E. side of lower stage of S.W. tower
buttress, with chamfered four-centred head; mediaeval.
Plate: includes Elizabethan silver cup by Lawrence Stratford
of Dorchester, without inscription or date-letters; in 1849
it was recorded that the church 'possesses no sacramental plate
whatever, except a chalice presented by the present curate'
(Ecclesiologist, X (1849), 255).
(2) Cross (90420943), some 50 yds. E.N.E. of (1), of
Greensand, comprises the lower part of an octagonal shaft set
in a square pedestal on a plinth of three steps, square on plan.
The lowest step retains traces of moulded nosing, much worn.
The cross probably is of the late 15th century.
(3) Methodist Chapel (90450894), with cob walls and until
recently with a thatched roof, consists of a simple hall orientated N.—S., with the doorway on the S.; it is of the first half
of the 19th century.
(4) The Rectory (90440936), of two storeys with attics,
with walls of brick banded with flint and with tile-covered
roofs, is dated 1712. The N.E. front is symmetrical and of five
bays. Reset in the centre bay is part of a 16th-century stone
doorway with a moulded four-centred head, continuous
jambs and plain stops; the head is original, the rest of the
opening is restoration work, presumably of c. 1712. Above
the head is a square label and on the margin below the label
is a damaged black-letter inscription, recorded by Hutchins
as '[T. . . . . well alias Weber hanc] porticu'. et capella xpi.
superstruxit, anno d'ni MC [CCCCXXX] '; the letters enclosed in brackets have now perished, but the others remain
legible. Thomas Weaver was rector of Tarrant Hinton (1514–
1536), and his initials are found in the decoration of the Easter
Sepulchre in that church (see p. 98); it is possible that these reset
fragments were brought from Hinton. Over the doorway
and integral with the label is a niche with a canopied head and
shafted jambs; carved under the bracket of the niche is a
shield-of-arms of Henry VIII, with crown, garter, dragon and
greyhound supporters, and a rose and portcullis on the apron
(cf. Tarrant Gunville (1), Glass). Reset in the upper storey,
centrally above the doorway, is a window of three ogee-headed lights with vertical tracery in a square-headed surround; a stone above the window is inscribed 'Nisi Dominus
custoderit. . . . . . 'etc., and the date 1712. The two bays on
either side of the central bay in the 18th-century N.E. front
have false square-headed windows; first-floor level is marked
by a plain plat-band. The other elevations of the 18th-century
range have similar details. Inside, the main rooms have 19th-century plasterwork, joinery and chimneypieces. The walls
flanking the central vestibule are, however, 3 ft. and 2½ ft.
in thickness, suggesting that elements of an older building are
incorporated in the 18th-century structure.
(5) Nutford Farm (87940799), house, 1¾ m. S.W. of the
village, is of two storeys with attics and has brick walls and
tile-covered roofs. The building is of the 18th century. In
plan the house is L-shaped, with the main range facing E.S.E.
and having a wing projecting eastwards from it at the N. end.
The E. front of the range is symmetrical and of three bays,
with a central doorway and with square-headed casement
windows of three lights in both storeys; a plat-band occurs
at first-floor level. The E. wing is of one bay. The S. end of
the main range and the E. end of the wing are gabled and
have rounded brick copings above corbelled brick kneelers;
each apex has a brick chimney-stack.
Reset in a brick wall separating the garden from the farmyard is a late mediaeval doorway with a moulded four-centred
stone head and continuous jambs. The 18th-century gateway
into the garden from the road on the S.W. of the house has
square brick piers with moulded ashlar caps and ball finials.
Between the road and the farmhouse is a detached Cottage,
perhaps a little later in date than the farmhouse, but with
gabled end walls as described above.
(6) Manor Farm (90400945), house, of two storeys, with
walls of banded flint and brickwork, with brick quoins and stone
dressings, and with slate-covered roofs, dates from the first half
of the 19th century. The S.E. front of the main range is symmetrical and of three bays, with a central doorway, in a projecting porch, with a chamfered and hollow-chamfered square head
and continuous jambs. The windows flanking the doorway and
in the upper storey are uniform, each having three transomed
square-headed lights, with moulded surrounds as in the doorway; the casements have metal glazing-bars arranged to form
marginal panes. Extending the main range on the S.W. is an
additional bay with details similar to those of the main range.
The N.E. and S.W. end walls are gabled, with ashlar copings;
the windows, similar to those described, are of two lights and in
some cases have no transoms. Extensive farm buildings on the
N. and E. are constructed of similar materials and probably are
of the same period as the farmhouse.
(7) Chestnut Farm (90400939), house, of two storeys with
attics, with walls of ashlar and brickwork and with tile-covered
roofs, is of late 18th-century origin, but recently has been extensively modernised. Near by, on the N. of the adjacent farmyard, is a late 18th-century Barn with walls partly of reused
Greensand ashlar and partly of brickwork; the N. and S. walls
are strengthened by two-stage brick buttresses with weathered
offsets; the N. side has a transeptal exit bay. The barn roof has
collared trusses supporting two purlins on each side; curved
braces resting on ledges in the brick walls meet each principal at
the level of the lower purlins. A range of Farm Buildings on the
S. of the farmyard, constructed of materials similar to those of
the barn, has a date-stone of 1790.
(8) House (90550918), about 300 yds. S.E. of the church, is
of two storeys and has rendered walls and tile-covered roofs.
Under the rendering, the S. range has walls of banded brickwork
and flint of 18th-century origin. On the N., in continuation of
the original range, is a mid 19th-century extension containing the
principal rooms. Inside, the original range has some exposed
beams, lightly chamfered.
(9) 'The Laurels' (90550916), house, a few yards S. of the
foregoing, is two-storeyed and has walls of banded brickwork
and flint, and a slate-covered roof; it was built in 1802. The
E. front is symmetrical and of three bays, with the doorway
under a wooden porch with Roman-Doric columns and entablature; the windows, all alike, are of three sashed lights with
square heads. A date-stone inscribed C. H. 1802 is set in the S.
(10) Cottage (90430947), about 70 yds. N.E. of (1), is two-storeyed and has brick walls and a tiled roof; it probably is of
the early 19th century. The W. front is symmetrical and of
three bays, with a brick plat-band and with two-light casement
(11) Cottages (90640929), range of four, now combined, are
single-storyed with dormer-windowed attics and have cob walls
and thatched roofs; they are of 18th-century origin. Inside,
some rooms have roughly hewn beams, and several open fireplaces with timber bressummers are preserved. (Partly demolished.)
(12) Cottages (90670930), two adjacent, now combined, are
two-storeyed and have rendered walls and tiled roofs; they date
probably from the first half of the 18th century. Inside, two
open fireplaces are preserved, one blocked. Some 17th-century
panelling has been brought from elsewhere.
(13) Cottages (90840933), two adjacent, two-storeyed and
with brick walls and tiled roofs, are of the late 18th or early
Other monuments of the first half of the 19th century are as
follows: Newfield Farm (90771105), house, with outbuildings
and barn; Cottages (90920936), pair, with rendered walls and
thatched roofs; Cottages (90930937), two adjacent; Cottage
(90910932). Four Cottages in Prior's Lane, with rendered walls
and thatched roofs and with class-S plans, stand within the area
of the former open fields and therefore date from after 1814.
Mediaeval and Later Earthworks
(14) Cultivation Remains. Nothing remains of the open
fields of Pimperne, enclosed in 1814 (Award and map in
D.C.R.O.). The open fields of Nutford were in existence in
1838 (Tithe Map of Blandford Forum) and the date of their
enclosure is unknown; contour and up-and-down strip
lynchets, now largely ploughed down, cover a large area around
N.G. 880083; in 1838 they were in Nutford Field.
Roman and Prehistoric
The parish is notable for several Enclosures, all probably of Iron Age origin and comparable with those in
the adjacent parishes of Tarrant Hinton (p. 100) and
Stourpaine (Dorset III, 265). They have been destroyed
almost entirely by cultivation and survive only as cropmarks or soil-marks.
(15) Iron Age Settlement (891097), on Pimperne Down,
excavated in 1960–3 by I. M. Blake and D. W. Harding, lies
about 350 ft. above O.D. on a gentle S.E. slope near the summit
of a N.—S. Chalk ridge. (fn. 1) The settlement comprises an oval, univallate enclosure of 11½ acres, bisected by the PimperneStourpaine road and for the greater part visible only on air
photographs. Until recently the N.E. sector survived unploughed and it was there that excavations were largely concentrated. 'Celtic' fields (Group (73)) adjoin the enclosure on
the N.E. and a smaller enclosure (16) lies immediately S. of it.
The excavations indicate early Iron Age occupation, with Second
or late First 'A' culture. The bank survived to a height of 1 ft.
to 1½ ft. in the N.E. sector. The ditch was initially of shallow
'V' profile, becoming steeper towards a narrow, flat bottom,
and reaching a depth of 5 ft. to 6 ft. below present ground level.
Two entrances to the enclosure were demonstrated. Excavation of the E. entrance revealed a parallel line of post-holes, 8 ft.
apart, which extended a little over 20 ft. into the interior of the
camp from the causeway between the ditch terminals. Recutting of the post-holes indicated that the entrance passageway
had been reinforced or rebuilt in a second phase of construction.
The ditch on both sides of the entrance was flat-bottomed, with
nearly vertical sides, but on the southern side of the gateway a
rubbish pit, into which quantities of animal bones had been
thrown, had been cut into the ditch after its initial silting. N.
of the entrance the ditch had been refilled shortly after construction, and it had been sealed by a closely-packed flint capping
beneath which was found a human femur and the right half of
a human skull.
Excavation of the S. entrance revealed three post-holes
spanning the entrance causeway, one of them of adequate size
for a post to sustain a gate. The ditch system of the S. entrance
was more complex than that on the E. The main enclosure
ditch on the S.W. side of the causeway was intersected by a
shallower ditch which led outwards from the camp to a secondary enclosure (16) on the S.E. This 'antenna' ditch was not of
defensive proportions and more probably served to guide cattle
into the camp from the secondary enclosure. At least three
major structural phases were represented. Within the butt end
of the main enclosure ditch, adjacent to its intersection with the
'antenna' ditch, were found the semi-articulated remains of part
of a horse and the skull of an ox, together with two small
rectangular chalk lamps. Taken in conjunction with human remains at the E. entrance, there are grounds for supposing that
these were deliberate deposits, chosen with regard to the respective functions of each entrance.
The existence of an entrance on the N. side of the camp was
indicated in 1963 by magnetometer survey, but no excavations
took place in this area.
Inside the settlement the principal discovery was the remains
of a circular timber house (Plate 55). It consisted essentially of
two concentric circles of post-holes. The inner circle, 32 ft.
in diameter, must have been for the main supports of the roof
since there was no central post-hole or group of holes. The
outer circle, 42 ft. in diameter, was composed of smaller stakeholes cut not more than 9 ins. into the chalk; it probably
retained a wall of woven saplings. A larger and less continuous
circle of shallow scoops and irregular holes may have held
external supports for the walls and roof rafters.
Occupation was clearly in two principal phases, in the second
of which the house was completely rebuilt, although the same
porched entrance served both phases. A baked clay hearth was
located within the house, together with a number of shallow
post-holes, the latter probably associated with domestic appliances such as looms or drying racks.
Small finds included a bronze finger-ring, two iron arrow-heads and several fragments of shale bracelets. Pottery included coarse-ware shouldered jars with finger-tip ornament and
some haematite-coated bowls. The occupation of the site
should most probably be assigned to the 5th century B.C., but
insufficient stratified material was available to supply a satisfactory chronology of the structural phases represented.
(16) Enclosure (891095), visible only on air photographs
(V 58/RAF/3250: 0137–8), lies 40 yds. S. of (15) and apparently
is linked with it by a shallow ditch. It covers 4 acres and is pear-shaped in plan, measuring 400 ft. by 500 ft. across. There is no
certain entrance, but it most probably was on the N.
(17) Enclosure (900094), probably Iron Age, now totally
levelled by ploughing, comprises an irregular oval of 20 acres,
formerly defined by a single bank and ditch. It lies at just over
250 ft. above O.D. at the S.E. end of a spur overlooking the
village and encircles an angle of the Pimperne-Stourpaine road.
The site was discovered from air photographs (V 58/RAF/3250:
(18) Enclosure (916105), probably Iron Age, lies in the extreme E. of the parish on a gentle S.W. slope, near the top of a
ridge, about 375 ft. above O.D. It has been levelled by ploughing, but comprises a heart-shaped area of some 10 acres, formerly
defined by a bank and ditch, with an inturned entrance on the
S.W. side (Plate 54). Within, and concentric with it, lay a
roughly oval enclosure of about 5 acres similarly defined and
utilising the same entrance. The space between the two enclosures was divided into compartments by three short lengths
of bank and ditch (C.U.A.P., WX 15–18). The enclosure
appears to have been integrated with 'Celtic' fields (see Group
(73)) and possibly with a Linear Dyke immediately on the S.
(Tarrant Hinton (18)).
'Celtic' Fields, see p. 119, Group (73).
Monuments (19–35), Round Barrows
Remains of at least seventeen barrows are found in
the parish, nearly all of them levelled by ploughing.
There is no record that any have been excavated.
(19) Bowl (88280967), on the edge of France Firs, lies on the
boundary with Stourpaine at about 350 ft. above O.D.; diam.
52 ft., ht. 3 ft.
The Chestnut Farm Group comprises at least nine barrows, all
totally flattened by cultivation, but visible as soil-mark ringditches on air photographs (Allen 931, 933, Ashmolean),
(Plate 55); they lie at about 225 ft. above O.D. on the N.E.
slope of a spur immediately W. of the village. There are
possibly traces of other barrows in the group. A linear ditch,
seen on the photograph, which makes an angular detour around
barrow (24) and cuts into barrow (25), appears to be of comparatively recent origin. References and dimensions are
(20) Barrow (90250930), possibly of two phases, with twin
concentric ditches; diam. of mound about 65 ft.
(21) Barrow (90270929); diam. about 40 ft.
(22) Double Barrow (90290928), within a continuous ditch,
measures about 60 ft. by 30 ft.
(23) Barrow (90270927), with possible pits inside the ditch;
(24) Barrow (90300926); diam. about 55 ft.
(25) Barrow (90290923); diam. about 65 ft.
(26) Barrow (90330924); diam. about 50 ft.
(27) Barrow (90360927); diam. about 65 ft.
(28) Barrow (90350917); diam. about 50 ft.
(29) Barrow (90450992), at 250 ft. above O.D. on a S.E. slope
just N. of the village, is now levelled by ploughing, but is visible
as a ring-ditch on air photographs (C.U.A.P., ABX 98); diam.
about 45 ft.
(30) Barrow (91370870), at over 350 ft. above O.D. on the
ridge-top immediately W. of Blandford Camp, is now levelled.
Pimperne East Group comprises five small bowl barrows
situated near the E. boundary of the parish, some 250 yds.
S.W. of Pimperne Long Barrow (Tarrant Hinton (24)).
They lie on a gentle S. slope at 350 ft. above O.D. and are
levelled by ploughing. They remain undated; because of their
small size it has been suggested that they may be of the Iron Age
or Saxon (Dorset Barrows, 125).
(31) Bowl (91521034).
(32) Bowl (91531036).
(33) Bowl (91551035).
(34) Bowl (91571035).
(35) Bowl (91561033).