Stock Gaylard House is a small Georgian (possibly earlier) Grade II* listed, country house. It is a symmetrical building of three floors (two stories and an attic) and is constructed of rendered rubble stone, under mainly hipped stone roof with some slate slopes and brick stacks.
It is believed to have been built around 1714 which would have made it during the tenure of the Lewys family.
There are no records of this period, but it appears that the house was a simple ‘L’ shape with a separate kitchen at the rear. It is not known where the previous house was. Some believe there are indications of an older house on the site, but there is also evidence of buildings a little further away in the Park.
John Berkley Burland MP added to the house and raised the ceiling of the drawing room around 1790. In the early 19th century, the Reverend H F Yeatman enclosed the courtyard at the back of the house and improved the stables. Then at the end of the 19th century, the middle courtyard was built, with the addition of a bathroom, cloakrooms and toilets.
Since then, the only significant change was the conversion of the library into a modern kitchen in the 1960’s.
The house faces East and overlooks the Deer Park. In front is an expanse of gravel leading onto a small lawn that has a central path with an iron gate leading through a fence out to the Deer Park. Surrounding this lawn is a low stone wall, probably built at the time of the renovations to the church in 1884.
Where the garden begins there is an ornamental iron gate with a cattle grid to its side. The church lies to the South of this area. The garden is made up of a series of lawn areas with box hedging, herbaceous borders and mature trees. To the North is the Dovecote.
A good view of the house and Deer Park can be obtained from the road when approaching from the East.
At the roadside entrance to the grounds are two 18th century gate piers, beside which is Stock Lodge, a brick and timber building built in 1901.
The drive runs North towards the house. To the West is parkland known as Church Park covering an area of about 40 acres, and the Deer Park is to the East. Across the Park lies Stock Wood (a SSSI) with areas of old oak woodlands as well as beech, ash and fir blocks.
To the East of Stock Wood lies Lydlinch Common (a SSSI) which lies across the junction of the A357 and A3030 and is mainly blackthorn scrub and grass with areas of ash and birch.
The whole site has not been ploughed except for parts of the Church Park and only the Church Park and Kennel Ground have land with regular fertilizer input.
The result is a block of land that has not changed greatly since the enclosure of the surrounding fields.
The Estate lies near the middle of an area know as the Blackmore Vale in North Dorset.
The Blackmore Vale
The Blackmore Vale is part of an old English forest that covered much of North Dorset knows as the Forest of Gillingham.
It would appear that the deforestation of the area was done in the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) leaving the Blackmore Vale as a royal hunting ground. By 1773 Hutchins describes the area in the following way, “It derives its name, either from the nature of its soil, a deep strong and black clay, or from the dark aspect of its woods, and its moist and Moorish situation. It is well watered by abundance of little rivulets, is very fertile, and consists chiefly of pasture for cattle and dairies.
In the villages included in it the streets are seldom compact and regular, but the houses are scattered over large commons, belonging to each parish, which are not enclosed, but en voifinage: the rest of the vale is enclosed, and the roads in general excessively bad. In former times it was full of wood, which is now much thinned.”
By 1850 the vale was described in the following way: “The extensive and fertile Vale of Blackmoor, bounded by ranges about four miles apart, is now esteemed by farmers as one of the most productive of pasture-grounds. Its rich and grassy surface is speckled by herds of lazy cattle fattening, and numberless dairy cows; and by busier droves of pigs, of which this district supplies to London a larger number than either of the counties of Somerset or Devon. Blackmoor is also known for the vigorous growth of its oaks, which thrive well on the tenacious soil.”
This area is still known for its ability to grow good grass. Until the recent downturn in dairy farming it has been well known for milk production. In the 1960’s there would have been 11 dairy farms on the Estate and this has been reduced to three dairy farms on the same land.
The Stock Estate, because of its close association with hunting since the early 19th century, has retained the mosaic of small fields and scattered woodlands.
The largest pressure for change on the land has come in the last 20 years under the guise of the CAP. This resulted in much of the old pasture being ploughed up and cropped with a resultant decline in the species rich habitat that was present. The onset of Dutch elm disease in the 1970’s also had a dramatic impact on the visible landscape leaving only the oaks as significant boundary trees.
The local archaeological feature of the area tends to be in the form of less visible bank and hollows left over from the enclosure of the commons and road closures of the 19th century. Little evidence of any earlier habitation exist as they do on the chalk downland.
Stock Gaylard Estate Office, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2BG
Tel: 01963 23511