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Somerset Historic Environment Record


Site Name: Kilve chantry, Kilve
SCHEDULED MONUMENT: Remains of 14th century chantry at Kilve [No:480]
Civil Parish: Kilve
PRN 16349Survey (2002), medieval manor house and landscape, Kilve
PRN 17202Watching Brief (2004), Kilve Chantry
PRN 18193Watching brief (2004), Kilve Chantry
Grid Ref: ST 1464 4402 (ST 14 SW)
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Image: Image of HER 34540 - Photo by Somerset County Council (22 May 1974)
  HER 34540 - Photo by Somerset County Council (22 May 1974)

Public access:

The public accessibility of this site is unknown or has not been checked. Please ask locally and do not visit without permission. [Information last updated on 21 May 2003]


A chantry at Kilve was founded in 1329 by Sir Simon de Furneaux for five priests to pray for his soul "in Kylve church". The licence includes "a house and garden" to support the endorsement. The college ceased to exist probably in the late C14. It was the manor house of Kilve. A court, stable and bakehouse were recorded in 1242-3. The house was regarded as the capital messuage of the manor by 1441. From the mid C17 it was known as the "old mansion" or Kilve Farm. It evidently ceased to be farmhouse when its land was linked with Parkhouse Farm in the late C19 and has since been known as the Priory or Kilve Priory. Gutted by fire in 1850. By 1906 it was offered to holiday makers as apartments. In 1977 it was divided between Chantry and Priory cottages. The two cottages comprise the hall range of a substantial medieval house. The two-storyed eastern cross wing, largely ruined but dating from the late C13, is the former solar, having a contemporary first floor chapel against the E wall. Late medieval additions, post dating the college, project from the NE corner. {1}

The buildings contained "a refectory, dormitory, stillroom, granary and other monastic appearances". {3}

The ruins are multi-period and in places survive to a height of 11m. They include a chapel with a well preserved window. Two of the later structures on the N have been re-roofed with slate and they are used as storehouses.

Ruins are very overgrown and ivy covered. Elder bushes within the buildings and brambles all about. Despite the vegetation at least five integrated structures can be recognised, three of which are buttressed at the corners and one, the largest, has its gable ends surviving to its original height. {8}

Now in very poor condition with regrowth of ivy in many places and heaps of nettle covered rubble in the interior. The S gable wall is particularly poor which leans outwards. The occupiers of chantry cottage have dug a hole 'to see what was there' but have now been told of need for consent. {11}

Fishponds (PRN 33280) and park (PRN 34541) nearby. The ruins (PRN 30560) and the cottages (PRN 30559) are listed seperatly. {12}

The chantry is constructed of sort slatey sandstone and is suffering severely from its exposed condition. Much of the ivy has been killed but some survives. The main area of concern is the S wall which appears to continue to lean outwards. Without a very large amount of consolodation the building will become more unsafe and should be fenced off. If money becomes availible then recording the structure should be the next priority. {13}

There are at least three major phases in the medieval development of the building. It appears that the main part of the Priory Cottage and Chantry Cottage formed the hall range of the medieval building. Conclusive evidence of this can be seen in the attic where the scar of the original hall roof and the remains of a coped treatment can be viewed on the south west gable. This scar lies centrally within the wall, indicating that the existing building follows much the same ground plan as the medieval building, and the coping suggesting the south-west wall formed the terminus of the range. The roof was raised in a single phase at which time the present 19th century roof was constructed presumably after the fire. The hall originally had low eaves compatible with an aisled structure.

One of the most significant aspects of the building is its distinctive plan form. The solar annexes and a chapel that represent specialised building ranges and are arranged in a way that expands upon the more standard hall and cross-wing plan. Unlike other similar plan forms the evidence at Kilve represents a planned solar complex rather than later additions, with three annexes at least two of which (excluding the chapel) are contemporary with the solar. This can be interpreted as evidence of aggrandisement of the de Furneaux's private accommodation or less likely the expansion of the manor house to form suitable accommodation for the college of priests associated with the chantry foundation. Dating evidence for this wing relies on the style and form of architectural detailing, the primary diagnostic feature is the tall solar window in in the south-east gable. The remains indicate it was bulky in character, resembling plate tracery and formed two light with cusped heads beneath a central quatrefoil. This form of window was used over a long period of time and can be seen in buildings of the 13th and 14th centuries.

It seems unlikely that the solar wing was built to house the priests at the chantry college. The impressive and complex form of the building indicates it was built by a man of considerable wealth and status, making it probable that the house remained the main residence of the de Furneaux family throughout the 14th century. Earthwork evidence of a manorial enclosure surrounding the site and a deer park associated with it, combined with the close proximity of the parish church (PRN 33279) adds strength to the interpretation that the remains represent a medieval manor house.

The chapel wing is possibly a later addition. One possible indicator of this is on the south-east elevation where the scar of a buttress that has been removed can be clearly seen. The second indicator is a is a slight change in alignment between the south-east wall of the solar and the corresponding wall of the chapel. Contrasting stonework between the solar wing and the chapel adds weight to the argument.

The medieval manor house is bounded to the west by a substantial water-filled ditch and hedge topped bank. It is uncertain if this boundary was always water filled, but its form suggests it may represent the remains of a medieval enclosure, possibly defining the curia of the manor. There is no conclusive evidence to indicate its eastern extent. The enclosure would appear to be c 240m long from north-west to south-east and c 175m wide, covering an area of approximately 3.8ha. {14}

Research to date has not determined, with any degree of certainty, the location of the chantry priests' residence, despite the established belief that 'Chantry Cottage', 'Priory Cottage' and the 'remains pf chantry' originally formed some aspect of the Kilve Chantry. The Victoria History of the Counties of England statement that the manor house became the residence of the college of chantry priests is noted as being based on the licence of 1329 in the Calendar of Patent Roll. However the relevant entry in the Rolls refers to 'a messuage', rather than the capital messuage, and does not necessarily support the presumption that the college of priests came to occupy the manor house. This appears to be borne out by the fact that, in the mid-15th century, the house retained the status of capital messuage of the manor.

The buildings medieval ranges are built of local blue lias rubble, with limited use of Ham-stone detailing. Much of the building is ruined, but where it remains roofed, the covering is of Welsh slate. However, 1840s illustrations depict the building thatched throughout, which probably matches the original treatment of the roofs.

The building comprises a hall range (now forming the main block of 'Chantry' and 'Priory Cottages'), a large (ruined) solar wing at ninety degrees across its east end and three further wings positioned against the solar's east wall and northern corner. These wings comprise the chapel, east wing and north wing. The chapel and east wing survive in a ruined condition. There is a porch, fronting the entrance to the hall range, the ground floor of which may be medieval. An in-line range, of likely medieval date, formerly stood at the western end of the hall, although this no longer survives. Finally, a wing to the rear - the west wing - is positioned across the junction between the hall range and the site of the in-line range. The west wing does not display any medieval fabric, although its rendered finish may conceal evidence of such. {15}


1 Description - Dunning, RW (ed). Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 5 (1985)
2 Sketch plan - Dunning, RW (ed). Victoria History of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 5 (1985), 99.
3 Mention - Collinson, J. The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset.  Vol. 3 (1791), 533.
4 Mention - Creswell, WHP. Land of Quantock.  (1903), 157-60.
5 Illustration - Creswell, WHP. Land of Quantock.  (1903)
6 Detailed records - Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division record card. Record ID: ST 14 SW 17 (1965) Location: HER files.
7 Mention - Harper, CG. The Somerset Coast.  (1909)
8 Detailed records - Algar, D [David]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden (7/2/1984) Location: HER files.
9 Measured plan - 'JD' Somerset County Council. 1:500 plan. (Mar 1982) Drawing HBC 3/18/1. Location: HER collections
10 Aerial photographs - HSL 71 180 Run 15E 9078. (07/09/1971) Location: Local Studies collection at Somerset Heritage Centre.
11 Detailed records - Graham, A [Alan]. English Heritage Field Monument Warden (21/4/1998) Location: HER files.
12 Verbal communication - Webster, C [Chris]. Somerset County Council, Historic Environment Record (15/12/1998). Location: Verbal, electronic or direct entry, no source retained
13 Description - Badcock, P (English Heritage) "Kilve Chantry" unpublished memo and Stowe, P (WS Atkins) unpublished memo (1998) in HER files.
14 Detailed records - Jamieson, E. An Early Medieval Manor House and Landscape at Kilve, Somerset.  Unpublished English Heritage report No: AI/8/2003 (2003) Location: HER files under PRN 16349.
15 Detailed records - Jones B V Chantry Cottage, Priory Cottage and Remains of Chantry, Kilve, Somerset Unpublished English Heritage Historic Buildings and Areas d Department report no. B/005/2003: Report (2003) in HER files

Record created in February 1985

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