Woodsford Castle fortified Manor House near Dorchester, DorsetIn the Frome valley, just to the east of Dorchester, Woodsford is a rare survival, one side of a medieval fortified manor house. Woodsford Castle as it is known, was originally built in about 1337 when William de Whitefield was given permission to crenellate his house at 'Wyrdesford'.

The remains are impressive, a large three story stone building with a huge thatched roof. By 1630 however it was described as 'almost ruinated', and in the 18th century was converted into a thatched farmhouse. In 1856 Thomas Hardy's father was engaged by John Hicks to undertake repairs on the building. The young Hardy helped with preliminary drawings at the castle, and it was on the strength of these that he was offered an architectural apprenticeship with him. Woodsford Castle is now owned by the Landmark Trust. Although not open to the public it can easily be seen from the road.

The church of St. John the Baptist was rebuilt in 1863 re-using a little of the 13th century masonry, including the doorway from the tower into the nave.

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