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St Mary, Kilve, Somerset

(51°11′16″N, 3°13′18″W)
ST 147 439
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Somerset
now Somerset
  • Robin Downes
25 June 2004

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Feature Sets

Kilve is a village in the W of the county, 5 miles E of Watchet and less than a mile S of the West Somerset coast. It occupies a valley falling from the Quantock Hills which rise immediately to the S. It is clustered around a crossroads on the A39 Minehead to Bridgwater road, with the church some 0.7 miles N of the crossroads, near the coast. It consists of a 2 bay nave with a S porch, a chancel and a W tower and dates largely from the 14thc and 15thc. The church is of blue lias random rubble, and was restored in the 19thc and again in 1913. The tower has been painted white relatively recently. The font is the only Romanesque feature.


Before the Conquest Kilve was held by Beorhtric, and in 1086 by Roger de Courcelles, who held it for himself. It was assessed at 2½ hides with 13 acres of meadow, 12 acres of woodland, and pasture 1½ leagues by ½ a league, and a mill in addition. Roger’s estates passed mostly to the Malet family who became the overlords, but a tenancy was established in the early 12thc, held by Robert de Pirou, and later by his grandson, Robert son of William. At his death, perhaps c.1200, his heirs were his three daughters. The usual disputes followed, and Kilve was held by the Furneaux family, then the Avenels, then the Furneaux again who remained in possession until the failure of the male line in 1359. Thus Matthew de Furneaux was granted a market and a fair in 1296, and Simon de Furneaux established a chantry of five chaplains there in 1329.





VCH, EH and Pevsner all describe the font as 12thc, and remark upon the cable-moulded base.


EH, English Heritage Listed Building 265170.

N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: South and West Somerset, Harmondsworth 1958, 211.

VCH, Victoria County History: Somerset, V, London 1985, 96-103.