Blashenwell lies less than a mile to the north of Kingston in the valley.
Blue/grey and green Purbeck Marble was exploited from this location. It is believed that these quarries may go back as far as the Roman period, and were used as late as the year 1850/80 by G.E. Street when he built the nearby new church at Kingston (Haysom 1998: 48-
According to www.roman-britain.org the Isle of Purbeck was a hive of activity in Roman times and there were shale quarries at Blashenwell Farm and Encombe.
Cist-burials in other Purbeck stone were found at Blashenwell, SY 9518 8047 (Royal Commission on Historical Monuments 1952, p. 599).
Blashenwell Farm Pit was notified to the Secretary of State on 12 February 1988 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The description and reasons for notification were given as:
The tufa deposit at Blashenwell Farm is important for Quaternary studies, providing a detailed record of molluscan biostratigraphy and environmental history during the early- and mid-Flandrian (mollusc assemblage zones b to d). It is particularly valuable for the length and continuity of the record and the dating potential provided by the presence of associated archaeological remains. Several radiocarbon dates are also available from the site.
Blashenwell Farm House is a Grade II Listed Building, list entry number 1323425. It was listed on 20 November 1959.
The listing states:
Probably mid-C18, extended to west in late C18. Rubble stone walls, concrete tile roof replacing stone slates. One brick stack at left end, one at right end of original house and one in rear wing. T-shaped plan, with rear wing. 2 storeys. Gabled porch, with flush panel door in opening with stone lintol and brick jambs. Ground floor has 2 sashes with glazing bars under stone relieving arches. First floor has 2 similar sashes and a gabled dormer with casements with glazing bars. Right end extension – former cheese room, has double doors replacing a window. Short rear wing – 2 storeyed, in-matching construction, and an extension to this, at lower level, with part cob walls and corrugated asbestos roof. Some windows here retain lead lights. Lean-to extension at rear of main house, and one on rear wing. Small lean-to extension at right end of house. Internally, one ground floor room has large fireplace, built up. Some chamfered ceiling beams. Slatted door at rear of cheese room – now in later lean-to. (RCHM, Monument 131. Dorset. Vol. II).
The main barn, 25 metres west of Blashenwell Farm House is also a Grade II Listed Building, list entry number 1120270. It too was listed on 20 November 1959.
The listing states:
Dated “GP 1760” on east wall. Rubble stone walls, hipped stone slate roof. East wall – facing farmyard, has, at left end, a lean-to cart entrance. Further lean-to right of this, with corrugated sheet roof. Right of this, a flush door, and ledged high level door. 3 blocked window openings with segmental arches. Large opening with double doors in north end wall. On west wall, at left end a lean-to under slate catslide roof. Right of this a shallower brick lean-to and, adjoining this a large cast iron waterwheel in brick pit, with remains of leat. Also remains of walls to high level pond south of the barn. Right of the wheel is hipped cart porch, and right of this a C20 concrete lean-to. Internally, the north section, of 4 bays, has a tie-beam roof and the centre section, of 5 bays, a collar beam roof. Overhead drive shaft and some remains of gearing from wheel, which drove farm machinery. (RCHM, Monument 131. Dorset. Vol. II).
In 1962, Rex Wailes of the Newcomen Society wrote:
The mill building is perhaps one of the most outstanding. Dated 1760, and of undressed stone, the round wood pegs holding the heavy stone slates show clearly on the underside of the roof. The wheel is fed in an unusual way. A dam on the outskirts is at a higher level than the wheel. Water is fed from beneath the dam by an underground conduit on which a vertical pipe connects to the underside of a cast-iron box-shaped pentrough, in which a head of about four feet could be maintained. A shuttle with down turned louvers regulated the water onto the wheel.
It appears from the layout that the makers design was intended to take advantage of the impulsive force of the water as well as its weight. Unfortunately, this arrangement was not a success as the head of water in the penstock caused much spillage and wastage at the shuttle. In consequence, the head had to be restricted by governing the flow from the dam. The hatches beneath the breast wall of the dam are of cast-iron, worked by vertical spindles and hand wheels from the top of the dam
wall. The water wheel is a very good example of the ventilated bucket but without a sole plate. Although the various names have, in the past, been given as the originators of the idea, William Fairburn introduced the ventilated bucket wheels in 1828. Wheel is breast shot, measures 16ft by 4ft 6¾ins., is of iron and made by Munden Armfield & Co. It had “J” shaped and ventilated buckets. The water wheel shaft is cast-iron fish-bellied 6½ inches diameter.
Past residents of Blashenwell Farm
In 1841 widow Mary Kent was farming Blashenwell with the help of her son Charles and she was still there in 1851 but her son was not.
In 1861 Charles Kent was now in charge and he was farming 876 acres employing 18 men and 7 boys.
In 1871 Charles Kent was farming 850 acres with the help of 15 men & boys.
By 1891 Blashenwell Farm was home to dairyman William Ford (1841-1898), wife Penninah (nee Ames) and their six children Mary, William Ellis Ford (1969-1933), Thomas, Lydia, Jane and Robert. William Ford senior had previously been at Bucknowle Farm. A year later son William married Louisa Martha Hunt. By 1920 William senior’s widow Penninah Ford was a shopkeeper at Charlton Marshall.
By 1901 dairyman John William Lock Symes was the dairyman. He was living at Blashenwell Dairy House with his wife Cecily and step-mother Julia.
By 1911 Harry Stephens was farming Blashenwell. He had then been married for less than a year to wife Daisy. Sadly Harry died aged 34 in captivity as a prisoner-of-war on 16 July 1917. He is commemorated at the Swanage War Memorial. His widow Daisy.
Blashenwell Farm has also played host to School Camps. In ‘Walking in Dorset’ by James Roberts, the author writes: ‘I have an especial fondness for walks in this area which dates back to school camp in 1973 at Blashenwell Farm at Kingston, for which I owe a debt of thanks to Mike Goode and Ken House. My well deserved report from that camp was ‘If Roberts put half the effort into doing camp tasks instead of avoiding them, he (and we all) would have a better time.’
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Page last updated: 30 July 2020