Kimmeridge is not the most attractive village on the Purbeck coast, but is certainly one of the most interesting. It is a place of stone cottages set against a background of steep hills; unpleasant for bathing, and the black ledges thick with seaweed have been the scene of countless shipwrecks. Kimmeridge bay is approached through a toll gate, reminiscent of frontier barrier, which further adds to its sinister appearance. However this has done nothing to reduce its popularity with skin divers and surfboard enthusiasts.

The Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge (c.1823).Kimmeridge has long been an Industrial village. The Romans mined the bituminous oil shale from the geologically active cliffs and polished it to make jewelry and ornaments. The village suffered a severe set-back in the 16th century when a harbour was built to develop a trade in alum. The venture failed, as did another, an attempt to establish a glassworks. A French company attempted to export the shale for lamp oil, this venture also failed, it is said that Parisians could not stand its foul smell when burning. The villages industrial fortunes recovered however in 1959 when oil was discovered, the first to be commercially extracted in England. Until recently a nodding donkey pump on the cliff edge has produced a steady stream of oil for over 25 years. Today England's largest on-shore oil production facility is located at nearby Wytch Farm

The manor house was purchased by the Clavell family in 1554. Sir William Clavell was knighted by Queen Elizabeth 1st for his services in Ireland, but his nephew was disinherited because he became a highwayman.

The Folly, built in the form of a tower near the bay, although called the Clavell tower was in fact built by the Rev. John Richards as a summer house in the 19th Century.

The Parish Church of Kimmeridge, whose historical dedication is unknown, (but which has recently been dedicated to St. Nicholas), is situated towards the north end of the main village street. The church is rectangular in shape with a single bell hung in a 15th century bellcote over the west gable. The oldest parts of the existing church date from Norman times but the building was extensively rebuilt in 1872. The south porch dates from the 13th century. The interior contains a 12th century font which Arthur Mee reports was found in an hedge in the 1920s and various memorials of the Clavell family.

Monitor page
for changes
   it's private   

by ChangeDetection

2000 The Dorset Page