Pre 20th Century Stourton Caundle

The first records, relating to the founding of the Manor of Stourton Caundle, date from the year 1202, with a purchase of land by Sir Henry de Haddon, a member of a Northamptonshire family, from East or West Haddon, and originally from Normandy. He, and his descendants, then consolidated their holding with further acquisitions. With the failure of male issue, at three subsequent stages, the land ownership passed by marriage through two generations of the Fitzwarin family, then two generations of the Chideock family and finally, in 1461, to the Stourton family. The original name “Caundle Haddon” persisted well into the long dynasty of the Stourton family, ending in 1727, from whom the present name derives.

The present name “Stourton Caundle”, sometimes “Caundle Stourton”, has survived both a first sale by the Stourtons to the Hoare family, in 1727, and the dispersal sales of 1911 and 1919. From the time of the final dispersal sale the Manor, although Sir Henry Hoare did retain the Lordship, has effectively ceased to exist.

The earliest information on the lands of the Manor comes from the Domesday Survey of 1086, which contains 10 separate records of land known as “Candel”, “In Candele” or Candelle”. Of these 10 records there are two which are thought to refer to areas which eventually came together to form the Manor of Caundle Haddon, subsequently Stourton Caundle. The hub of the Manor was the castle, situated in a field called “Court Barton” on the northern side of the Caundle Brook, at the rear of Manor Farm, probably built by Lord John, the third of the Haddon Lords, at the end of the 13th Century. On the opposite side of the brook was a small chapel, a mill, a fishpond, a pigeon loft.

Stourton Caundle had been an important part of the estate during the early 16th Century, generating an annual income to the Stourton family of more than £60. After her husband’s demise, Lady Anne moved back to Stourton House. Stourton Caundle and Purse Caundle remained part of the Stourton Estate but Hinton St. Mary was sold by the crown.

In around 1560, Anne married Sir John Arundel (~1527–1590) of Lanherne, Cornwall, remaining a devout Catholic until her death in 1602. She had a further 7 children by Sir John. The fortified manor house at Stourton Caundle was left to fall into disrepair.

After the demise of the castle a tithe barn was constructed on the northern boundary of the site, using stone from the ruined castle. Most of the public footpaths and bridle-ways radiate from here. Regular Manorial Court Sessions were being held in the tithe barn at Court Barton as recently as 1821. The tithe barn was destroyed by a fire in 1963. The stone from the barn was then used to raise the level of the boundary wall at the front of Manor Farm.

The 1709 estate map indicates the site of the castle with the words “an old house”, and Hutchins records in 1773 that “it is now ruined, and a chapel belonging to it has been turned into a barn”. Ground plans, filed with the Stourhead Estate papers, in the Wiltshire Record Office, show that the Castle was 90ft square, with an outer court, 55 ft. by 15 ft., facing south with circular turrets, 16ft in diameter, at the north east and north west corners.

The castle was constructed on a slightly raised platform and located within the L of a fishpond. The long arm of the L shaped pond, was 50 ft., ran from west to east and was fed from the Caundle Brook which also used to supply the water power for the mill along a leat running parallel to the southern boundary of this field. Ernest Palmer, when excavating a trench to lay a water pipe to the tithe barn in the late 1930s, came upon a layer of cinder, which suggests that the ruined castle had finally been destroyed by fire. He also unearthed a mediaeval horseman’s spur, which is now in the Dorchester County Museum. The excavations for the fishponds, constructed in 1971, revealed nothing more than an unusual number of small oyster shells. Pieces of moulded stone, which may have come from the castle, have been found embodied in other buildings in the village.

Chapel Barn 1a Manor Farm

The small chapel still stands among the farm buildings on the southern side of the brook, without the chancel portion as mentioned in its description by Hutchins III in 1869. The RCHM records the chapel as being 13th Century with a nave 21ft by 18ft, north and east walls nearly 3ft thick. A north doorway with a chamfered two-centred head, continuous jambs and a segmental pointed rear-arch and lancet windows in both north and south walls, though the latter, like the east wall, is a modern reconstruction. A small burial ground may have existed to the south of this chapel, one skeleton having been brought to the surface by floodwaters. There is no information available to show the dedication of this chapel, its use, or its relationship with St. Peter’s Church.

The mill was an important asset in the days of the Haddon Lords. When last in use it had an iron water wheel, donated as scrap iron to the war effort in 1914. A pigeon loft is shown on early maps to the east of the centre in Court Barton field. The tithe barn, probably 17th or early 18th Century was still in use until 1963, when it was destroyed by fire.

The final severance, of the Stourton connection with Stourton Caundle, was the sale of the estate in1714, due mostly to impoverishment brought about by penalties over a long period for the family’s refusal to change its religion. As “Recusants”, Roman Catholics in England who incurred legal and social penalties in the 1500s and afterward for refusing to attend services of the Church of England, they suffered serious penalties, including the sequestration of their property, from which they were never really able to recover.