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Wolfeton House, Charminster

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Charminster.
In the historic county of Dorset.
Modern Authority of Dorset.
1974 county of Dorset.
Medieval County of Dorset.

OS Map Grid Reference: SY678921
Latitude 50.72785° Longitude -2.45677°

Wolfeton House, Charminster has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are no visible remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Wolfeton House, a two storeyed stone rubble and ashlar building evidently had origins in the 15th century although nothing of that date now survives, except perhaps the gatehouse which may have been started at the turn of the 15th/early 16th century. The earliest surviving features incorporated in the present house are the remains of the former west range of an early 16th century courtyard house, built by Sir Thomas Trenchard, which was extended later in that century but substantially demolished in the early 19th century. In 1862 the house was extensively rebuilt and restored on its present plan. Grade 1 (RCHME; Pevsner: Listed Building Report)
The gatehouse has two gunports (Kenyon 1977). (PastScape)

Manor house and attached gatehouse. Gatehouse with date reset 1534. Early C16 courtyard house, of which only part of one range survives. House extended to west in later C16. Demolitions in early C19, see RCHM. 1862, house bought by W H P Weston and his works of restoration and rebuilding were extensive, including a passage way between the house and gatehouse, and alterations to the offices to the west. Purbeck rubble stone and ashlar walls. Stone slate roofs. Stone stacks, both rectangular, and round with C19 imitation of C16 work. Gatehouse, 2 storey and attics, standing 30 metres east of house, rectangular plan with 2 round towers of different dimensions. East front, the entrance archway is slightly north of centre. It has a four centred moulded head and jambs with pedestal base graded in height to create an illusion of greater recession. Moulded label with carved stops representing a satyr and woodmouse holding staves. Cartouche above, early C18. The windows on ground and first floors are of one, two and three lights with hollow chamfered 4 centred heads with foliate spandrels, early C16. North and south gable walls have projecting stacks. On north stack is an inscription panel: HOC OPUS FINITU EST ANNO DNK MDXXXIIII. For detailed description of gatehouse, RCHM p 65 col 2. Originally the south range of the quadrangular courtyard house continued east to join the gatehouse and had a small wing projecting from the free south east corner. South front of house retains, at its east end, the surviving part of the C16 south range. South tower of 3 stages, with strings and an embattled parapet, has a topmost stage of c1862. West doorway has a restored square moulded head and jambs with pedestal stops. The tower has 2-light and single light windows, RCHM p 66 col 1. West of the tower, surviving early C16 walling, to and including small garderobe tower, 3-light and 2-light mullions to ground floor of high quality carving in the mouldings, arch-spandrels, labels and stops, early C16. 5-light window on the first floor with similar detailing. The garderobe immediately west comprises a small semi-octagonal first floor projection supported on a rectangular shaft with moulded plinth and capping, moulded corbelling at sides and small broaches to bring it to the semi-octagon above. The late C16 block adjoins to the west: 2 storeys, 3 windows, each mullion and transomed of 4 lights with square heads, moulded jambs and mullions with moulded pedestal-stops above transoms and sills. A door has been cut in the east window, comprising two lights and with blockings immediately west of this. The wall of the east front, north of the south tower is ostensibly mid C19, with 2 gables, the northern dying into the north east tower. The 3-light mullion and transom windows with labels are C19. The crenellated north east tower of semi-octagonal form is entirely C19. North front, much altered and re-faced in C19. To the east the mid C19 screen-wall to the passageway joins the house to the gatehouse. The north wall of the stair is late C16, refaced, but retaining over the porch a window of 3 mullion and transom lights, in a square head with moulded jambs and pedestal stops. The windows have iron casements with glazing bars. The north porch, mid C19, ashlar with moulded cornice and crenellated parapet, moulded jambs and 4-centred head, with trefoiled spandrels, label and head stops. Carved armorial over. 2-leaf plank door, C19. West of this is a range of office buildings of late C18 and early C19 date, with dressed stone walls and hipped slate roofs. 2 storeys, 5 windows in total, sashes with thin glazing bars and stone cills. Gauged stone voussoirs over. One canted bay at left ground has C19 sashes with thin glazing bars. Door to the left of this has a round-arched head, b flush-panel door, early C19. South elevation west of the late C16 range has been much altered and rebuilt and is now largely late C18, or early C19 except at the west end, where the front has a moulded plinth, 4-light stone-mullioned window on the ground floor with square head and label. On the first floor, traces of another blocked window. Interior: Gatehouse many noteworthy features, RCHM p 67 col 2. Main house extensively remodelled in later C19, many of the fittings are of that date albeit in Jacobean styLe. East Drawing Room, ground floor, contains a doorcase and fireplace surround with overmantel all comprising highly enriched assemblages of early C17 woodwork from other parts of the house, RCHM p 67 col 1; plates 126 and 127. West Drawing Room, north door is made up of pieces of C16 and C17 carving. Great staircase, stone, probably restored C19, but following C16 form. Balustrade with a pierced arcade of round headed arches supporting a continuous moulded capping, returned along the first floor landing, terminating in a caryatid. Doorway into former gallery has a stone surround of late C16, similar to designs at Longleat of c1575. Gallery, original stone chimneypiece survives, rising to full height of room in two stages, late C16, full description RCHM and plate 127. This chimneypiece is similar in design and workmanship to that in Great Chamber at Montacute (Listed Building Report)

Claim of existence of a 'sort of castle' before present house rejected by Wilton, but the gatehouse with gunport makes the present house at least a slightly fortified manor house, although, it is argued, the main purpose of such gunports was to display the status of builder.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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