Stourpaine Parsonage Farm

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Ringwork), and also as a Questionable Fortified Manor House

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameStourpaine Parsonage Farm
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDorset
Modern AuthorityDorset
1974 AuthorityDorset
Civil ParishStourpaine

Earthwork close to church, listed as possible castle by King though Wilton writes may be either fortified manor or water mill works.

Adjoining a farmyard close to Stourpaine church is a small square "entrenchment" with sides of about 30 yds, perhaps the site of the manor house, although local tradition alleges it to be an old mill-bay. In the same field further south is a small circular embankment said to be a cockpit (Hutchin).

Manor House. "The site of a large dwelling house, foundations of which are easily found a few inches below the surface; portions of the moat which surround it are still in good formation. The style suggests either 14th or 15th century" (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Object Name Book Rev Object Note Book 1900 p20).

The area centred ST 859093 has many surface irregularities which consist of minor depressions, banks and scarps, and some vague platforms which probably represent building sites in an area of Medieval depopulation. The site of the manor house and moat is a square level platform with no sign of masonry or foundations. It is situated on a slight west-facing slope, so that the moat is deeper on the east than the west. The moat, which has been much damaged, is 7.0m wide by between 1.5m and 3.0m deep, and the upcast from it has been used to form an inner bank about 7.0m wide by up to 1.8m high. Immediately south of the moat is an oval earthwork formed by a bank about 7.0m wide by 0.5m high, with an outer ditch 6.0m wide and 0.3m deep. This, and an enclosure bank to the east (see illust) and a bank and ditch forming the south angle of the area, are all doubtless connected with Medieval occupation. The relative ages of the moat and oval earthwork could not be determined, and there is no evidence that the moat was ever a mill bay as suggested by Hutchins (Field Investigators Comments-F1 NVQ 19-DEC-55).

Moat and enclosure (ST 860093), lie S

of Stourpaine Church, near the place where the Iwerne joins the Stour. The moat formerly with a wet ditch surrounding a rectangular island, occupies the N. third of the site. The N. side and N. third of the E. side are almost completely filled in and their alignment is only marked by a scarp, 2 1/2 ft. to 3 ft. high, along the edges of the island. The rest of the E. side and all of the S. and W. sides are bounded by a deep wide ditch, now dry. A pond covers the N.W. corner. An external bank about 1 ft. high occurs along the W. side. The interior of the island is flat and has no features apart from a modern spoil heap in the S.E. corner; no entrance or causeway is visible. Adjoining the S. side of the moat are the remains of a rectangular banked enclosure of about 2 acres. It is bounded on the E. by a low spread bank and on the S. by a bank 3 ft. high, with an external ditch. The W. side is no longer traceable on the ground but the 1st edition of the 25-in. O.S. map shows about 50 yds. of bank at the S. end; it probably was destroyed in 1863 when the railway was built. At the N. end of the enclosure, and lying against the S. side of the moat, is an earthwork which Hutchins describes as a 'Cockpit'. It is a roughly circular area with an internal diameter of about 100 ft. bounded by a low bank and an external ditch. There is a gap in the N.W. part of the bank. This earthwork is certainly of later date than the moat (RCHME). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Earthworks part overlain by railway, in particular this effects the cockpit, which could possibly have original been a ringwork. The location, by the church and village and next to a river crossing is typical of a medieval castle site, but the evidence for this being anything other than a moated manor house is slight. It should be noted there is a strong hilltop Roman fort at Hod Hill 1km to the NW.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceST860092
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  • Wilton, P., 1995, Castles of Dorset (Wimborne)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 130 (possible)
  • RCHME, 1970, An inventory of historical monuments in the County of Dorset Vol. 3: central p. 262 no. 9 (plan) online transcription
  • Hutchin, J., 1861 (3edn org. pub. 1774), History of Dorset Vol. 1 p. 305 (Facsimile edn by EP Publishing produced 1973)