Purcombe Farmhouse


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Purcombe Farm, Pilsdon, Bridport, DT6 5NY


© Crown Copyright and database right 2021. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2021. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1153145.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 27-Nov-2021 at 23:22:23.


Statutory Address:
Purcombe Farm, Pilsdon, Bridport, DT6 5NY

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Dorset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


House of early-C16 date, modified in the C17; altered and extended in the C18 or C19; and some C20 and early-C21 alterations, repairs and additions.

Reasons for Designation

Purcombe Farmhouse which dates from 1504/5 with later alterations and some additions is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: it is a remarkably well-preserved vernacular building of 1504/5 in which the original and unusual plan can be clearly discerned in the historic fabric; * Artistic interest: for the exceptionally unusual survival in a domestic building of a wall painting depicting a religious figure; * Date: it is of demonstrably early date which contributes to its claims to rarity and special historic interest; * Interior: it retains a high proportion of early features such as early-C16 plank and muntin partitions, chamfered and stopped beams and smoke-blackened roof timbers, together with a C17 timber-framed stack and timber stair.


Purcombe Farmhouse is situated in a relatively isolated rural location to the south-west of the village of Pilsdon. It is a three-room, cross-passage house with jointed cruck roof timbers and has been dated to 1504/5. Dendrochronological analysis has indicated that virtually all the timber within the building was felled during the late C15 and very early C16. Although there is heavy smoke blackening to the roof timbers which is usually indicative of a hall that is open to the roof, the dating evidence suggests that the house always had an upper floor and that the blackening may be the result of smoke rising from an open hearth through a smoke bay or a slot in the floor above, backing onto the south side of the cross passage at the northern end of the room. A timber-framed stack and a stair were subsequently inserted into this bay, probably in the C17. Within the former hall (now the sitting room) is an early-C16 wall painting which was uncovered and conserved in 2012. The part which survives is of a religious figure, believed to be St Clement, the third or fourth Bishop of Rome, who died at the end of the first century AD.

During the C18 or C19 most of the cob used in the west and east walls of the house were replaced with stone rubble and an animal house was added to the north end. The new stone walls were built on the ouside line of the original cob walls, necessitating the extension of axial cross beams within the building. In the Tithe Apportionment of 1844/5 Purcombe Farm was a leased holding of just over 18 acres, virtually all in meadow or pasture. In the1841 Census it was farmed by Mary Masterman with her two young children and an apprentice aged sixteen. By the 1851 Census she had been replaced by Barnard Maney or Mabey and his wife. He is described as a ‘farmer of 24 acres’. Further small-scale lean-to additions were added to the north and south ends in the C20.


House of early-C16 date, modified in the C17; altered and extended in the C18 or C19; with some C20 and early-C21 alterations, repairs and additions. The C20 and C21 lean-to additions to the north and south ends of the house are not included in the listing.

MATERIALS: constructed of random local chert stone rubble and cob, although originally all cob, with dressings of limestone and red brick. There are a few areas of brick patching and heavy brick and rubble buttresses to the front elevation. The hipped roof is thatched with combed wheat reed with an off centre ridge stack of brick. The windows are late-C20 and early C21 timber casements; although an unglazed, oak mullioned window of four lights of probable C16 date set high in the north wall is visible within the building.

PLAN: the building is orientated north to south and is rectangular on plan. It is a three-unit, cross-passage house of one-and-a-half-stories with an abutting C18 or C19 former animal house with a high lean-to roof at its north end. This has now (2010-11) been incorporated within the dwelling. A C20 lean-to addition in blockwork has been built against the north end of the house and there is an early-C21 addition to the south that cannot be accessed from the house and which has replaced a lean-to shed of corrugated sheeting. Neither of these modern lean-to additions are of special interest and are excluded from the listing.

EXTERIOR: the principal (east) elevation has a wide off-centre entrance with a modern half-glazed plank door under a gabled brick porch which was added in the second half of the C20. To the left of the entrance are two windows of two and three lights, and there is a two-light casement to the right. The right-hand bay has a plank stable door. To the upper floor are two casements. A pair of early-C21 glazed doors has been inserted in the north return of the house, visible within the open-sided lean-to. The arrangement of ground-floor openings in the rear (west) wall include a half-glazed door to the far left, with a casement window beyond. A C20 plank door marks the position of the cross passage and there are two further casements to the right of the entrance. The only opening to the upper floor is a casement above the northern doorway which was added in the early C21.

INTERIOR: the main entrance leads onto the brick-floored cross passage. It has a plank and muntin screen to its right-hand side containing two C16 doorways with cambered or peaked heads and a blocked flat-arched doorway. The left side of the passage is built partly of rubble stone (rear wall of the fireplace) with a timber screen to its western end that has doorway with a shouldered arch although it appears to have been cut back and may have originally been cambered. Head beams with chamfered hood mouldings are visible at ceiling level running the length of the passage and there are exposed joists. To the right of the passage, the former service rooms appear to have been unheated and retain axial half beams. An opening in the north end wall which has a re-used doorcase with shouldered jambs leads through to the modern kitchen which is located within the former animal house where a modern staircase provides access to an inserted mezzanine.

The entry from the passage to the former hall or principal room is through a doorway with a shouldered head in the southern partition. The room, which has a stone-flagged floor, has a central lateral ceiling beam with deep chamfers and stepped stops, and an undecorated beam towards the northern end of the room. This beam is considered to demarcate the original hearth area into which a large fireplace has been inserted, backing onto the cross passage. It has an elm bressumer and stone and brick jambs. It has a timber-framed stack of stakes and daub that is supported on the mantel beam and tapers as it rises through the building. The internal surface has been plastered to provide fire protection to the timbers. In the north-west corner of the room is a C17 or C18 enclosed dogleg staircase which has a two-plank door with strap hinges at the base of the stairs. At the south end of the room is a full-height partition wall with a chamfered hood moulding and wattle and daub infill. The central section of the partition has an early-C16 wall painting which is thought to have originally extended over a larger area. It is painted directly onto the daub and the part which survives is of a religious figure, believed to be St Clement on account of the anchor he is holding in the his right hand. He wears a red chasuble with a pallium embroidered with crosses. The halo is visible around his head and although the mitre is not clear, the lappets which usually hang at the back of the mitre appear to be depicted at the side of the head. To the left (east) of the painting is an opening through to an inner room or parlour which has a slightly higher floor level to the rest of the house, while to the other side is a doorway with a cambered head and chamfered jambs containing a modern door. This leads to a lobby where a staircase provides access to a first-floor bedroom within the hipped end of the roof. At the west end of the partition wall, beyond the camber-headed doorway is a simple plank door with strap hinges which is now blocked by the inserted stairs behind.

Towards the east end of the partition is an opening through to an inner room or parlour which has a slightly higher floor level to the rest of the house. To the right (west) of the painting is a doorway with a cambered head and chamfered jambs containing a modern door and it leads to a lobby where a modern staircase provides access to a first-floor bedroom under the hipped part of the roof. Between the camber-headed doorway and the outside wall the partition wall contains a simple plank door with strap hinges which is now blocked by the inserted stairs behind.

The dogleg staircase in the former hall leads to two bedrooms; the room to the right has a pegged flat-arched doorway with a simple plank door with strap hinges. The roof comprises three substantial jointed cruck trusses consisting of vertical posts, originally buried in the wall (now partly detached from the rear wall), with curved tops onto which the rafters are morticed and high cambered collars. There are two sets of heavy-section, trenched purlins. All of the visible roof timbers are heavily smoke blackened.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Inventory of Dorset, (1974), 157
D Wilks, , A Cloud of Witnesses. Medieval Panel Paintings of Saints in Devon Churches, (2013)
Thorne, J O, Chambers Biographical Dictionary, (1974), 284
M. Bridge, Purcombe Farmhouse, Batts Lane, Marshwood, Dorset. Interim Summary of the Dendrochronological Analysis, April 2013,
McNeilage Conservation , Condition survey of the wall painting at Purcombe Farm, Pilsdon , November 2012,
P. Child, Purcombe Farm, Marshwood, West Dorset. An archaeological analysis, November 2013,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 24 Nov 2001
Reference: IOE01/06104/27
Rights: © Mrs Margaret Jenkins. Source: Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].