Country House, formerly Cistercian Abbey, founded 1136. Dissolved 1539. Monastic building of 12thC, 13thC, l5thC and 16thC survives. Country house alterations and extensions of C17, C18 and modern period. Rubble walls with Ham stone ashlar and dressings. Slate and lead roofs. Surviving work: mid C12: Chapter House (now chapel): 2 bays of cross-rib vaulting carried on recessed responds with scalloped capitals. Upper part rebuilt in C16 altered late C17. East window early C16. C13 Dorter large: 13 bays of ribbed vaults dying into polygonal central columns. Frater: lower part of walls. C15: Kitchen fireplace Gateway at West end of building. C16 porch into Abbot's Hall. Walls of part of Abbot's Lodging. C17: Dining room to right of porch: Main staircase. West staircase hall. Walls of West dining room. C18. Minor jamb features. Front (South) elevation from left to right. Drawing Room of Abbot's Lodging - 3 storeys, 3 bays with embattled parapet, C16, altered and rebuilt C17. Windows with moulded architraves and cornices, central upper one round headed. West dining room similar but only 2 storeys. Abbot's Hall early C16 - 1 storey 4 bays. Window design of stone mullions cross-transomed. Very depressed arches with carved panels, 3 to a bay over. Buttresses with 3 set-offs. Porch, dated 1528, of 3 storeys. 3-centred arch-entrance with 2 storey orial window above. Three heraldic panels below each tier. Dining Room with projecting verandah. 2 storeys. Three bays wide. Ground floor; arches, square-headed window above, and ovals above that. North alley of cloister: 7 bays of transomed 4-light windows with Y-tracery. Notable- frieze, C16. First floor with C17 windows and embattled parapet. Chapter House of 2 storeys with C18 windows at first floor level. Outstanding exterior features: Low relief early renaissance sculpture to Abbot's Hall and Porch. Interior features: plaster ceilings of 1660 to the Prideaux rooms: combining wide bands, flowing Acanthus foliage and figure-work in central medallions. C17 screen in the chapel. West staircase of c1660 with turned balusters and square newels with panels of fruit and foliage. Great staircase. Mid C17 enriched strings and hand-rails, panelled newels with bay-leaves and vases of fruit and flowers. Very fine pierced panels of acanthus scrolls with cartouches. This pattern repeated on the wall-surface. Stair-hall plaster ceiling. Source: R.C.H.M. Dorset I, p.240ff(3).
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