Weymouth-Dorset.co.uk Local History

Winterbourne Steepleton

or Winterborne Stepleton

Manor House, Winterbourne Steepleton, Dorset, known as Steepleton Manor

The Manor House, Steepleton Manor, of Winterbourne Steepleton, Dorset

Lying along the River Winterborne that rises in the neighbouring parish of Winterbourne Abbas, Winterbourne Steepleton is just a little off the beaten track nestling behind the busy A35 from Dorchester to Bridport. Historically a rather small Dorset parish in terms of population, it nevertheless retains many picturesque buildings. Perhaps the most eye-catching of them is Steepleton Manor. This rather grand building, standing proudly beside the road, is now a rest home.

This Manor House of Winterbourne Steepleton, although having the appearance of an older building was actually built during Victorian times. It is constructed of Portland stone and dates from around 1870 having been built on the site of another house formerly belonging to the Lawrence family.

The estate of the Manor being divided in moities early on between the Portes and Martel families, passed through several families respectively as well as reverting to the Crown at intervals.

The Martel moiety would appear to be the one which contained the former Manor House and farm and was in the occupation of the Lawrence family for several generations. Closely linked in this were the Trenchard family whose seat lay nearby at Wolfeton in Charminster. The last of the Lawrence family was Richard, the son of George, who at the age of 18 in 1636 was admitted to Magdalen College, Oxford. He was an active Parliamentarian, and had renewed the lease from Parliament. Later, with the Restoration of the Monarchy, for some obscure reason the lease was not renewed and he died a foot soldier in London. By the mid 19th century the Manor House belonged to the Duke of Bolton.

Close by the Manor House is Manor Cottage, thatched and retaining its charm from the late 16th century when it was built. Lying close by is Manor Farm with a farmhouse dating from the early 17th century if not earlier.

Across the road from the manor is a quaint little lane called Mill Lane. The Mill House built of brick and stone dates from the 17th century with the mill itself being a rebuild of the late 18th century. The mill buildings stand close by the church on the east.

Mill Lane and Parish Church of St. Michael, Winterborne Steepleton, Dorset

Mill Lane and the Church

The parish church of Winterbourne Steepleton is dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels and is one of just two parish churches in the ancient county of Dorset to have a spire, the other being at Iwerne Minster. (There is also one at Trent which although now in Dorset, was formerly in Somerset). Rebuilt in the 12th century with a few fragments surviving from the pre-Norman era, it is a delightful little church. The tower and south porch were additions made in the fourteenth century. A north chapel was added in the 15th century when the chancel was rebuilt, only to be demolished two centuries later having fallen into decay, and then in 18th century replaced by a vault for the Lambert family.

Sir Frederick Treves records an amusing epitaph in his Highways & Byways of Dorset (1923): "Here lies the body of Margaret Bent : she kicked up her heels and away she went"


Historical Parish Information


Parish Registers begin:


Hundred or Liberty:


Poor Law Union & Registration District:


Online Parish Clerk Project (external link)

Winterbourne Steepleton OPC


Nearby Parishes and Places

Kingston Russell

Little Bredy


Winterbourne Abbas


Back to Weymouth Home Page

Interactive Map of Weymouth & Dorset


All text and photographs on this page are my own and I therefore hold the copyright. Please respect this and if you wish to copy any of them or use them elsewhere, please ask permission first.