Kilkhampton in North Cornwall


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Kilkhampton in North Cornwall

Booby's Bay
Coads Green
Crackington Haven
Constantine Bay
Daymer Bay
Five Lanes
Harlyn Bay
North Hill
Petherwin Gate
Port Isaac
Porthcothan Bay
Port Quin
South Petherwin
St Breward
St Endellion
St Issey
St Juliot
St Kew
St Kew Highway
St Mabyn
St Merryn/Shop
Stoke Climsland
St Teath
St Tudy
Trebarwith Strand
Warbstow Cross
Week St Mary
Widemouth Bay


Churches in North Cornwall


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   Grenville Ward comprises of the Parishes of Kilkhampton and Morwenstow

Kilkhampton or "Kilk" as the place is known locally, sits astride the A39 "Atlantic Highway", following the line of the old ridge way, from Bude to Bideford, that dates back to Roman times, and like all North Cornwall has a colourful history that goes way back so far that much is lost to the mists of time. The parish of Kilkhampton stretches from the edge of the Tamar lakes to the beaches of Sandymouth and Duckpool and sits on a plateau about 5 - 6 Hundred feet above sea level. There are several burial grounds, dated to the Bronze age, located around the parish that suggest this area as been occupied by man for many centuries. The Saxons were definitely here because the Doomsday survey states” that King William I, holds a meadow and Harold (the Saxon King) had it before him." This meadow  known as Lords Meadow was possibly linked to the agricultural system of strip fields that surrounded the Saxon town of Kilkhampton. There is the Manor of Kilkhampton and the Barton of Aldercombe as well has the Glebe lands in the Hundred of Stratton. Kilkhampton Castle is a short walk due west across country from the village of Kilkhampton. It is a Motte and Bailey type of a late Norman Castle and further west still is another earthwork. The 1084 Doomsday record says Kilkhampton had 3 leagues of woods and some still survive in the valleys at Stow and Hessaford. The Norman-French Lords of the Manor were called Grenville and their lands passed by direct descent through the names of Carteret and Thynne until today, but they now only retain the ‘rite of wrecks’, on the shoreline.

         Church of St James the Great        Ornate entrance to the Church grounds

Kilkhampton church was probably rebuilt in the late 15th Century, but still as the magnificent south doorway that was constructed in about 1130.  The Church, which is dedicated to St James the Great, as is the church at Jacobstow, lays on a famous pilgrims route that started with the pilgrims sailing from Wales to Clovelly in Devon, and then on through Morwenstow, Kilkhampton Jacobstow, Boscastle, Trevalga and ultimately Fowey on the south coast, where they re-embarked for Compostella in Spain.

 The memorial Stone that stands outside the church is dedicated to the men of Kilkhampton, who lost their lives in the Great War of 1914-1919.

Memorial Stone dedicated to the men of Kilkhampton, who lost their lives in the Great War of 1914-1919.

The church of St James the Great has a ornately carved, late Norman door frame. The building appears to have developed in parallel with the economic success of the 16th Century and now displays a notable series of carved Tudor pew ends, a superb organ which was gifted to the church by Lord John Thynne in 1859, some fine wall monuments that are credited to local man, Michael Chuke, who learnt his skills from the famous carver 'Grinling Gibbons'. The tower has a pure Gothic interior arch which predates the actual church. You will also find tall slender monoliths from Lundy Island supporting the church and the Grenville coat of arms throughout.

St James interior

 The dwelling houses and businesses of Kilkhampton have evolved over the years to support a largely agriculture based populace. Kilkhampton has retained two of its ancient hamlets at Stibb and Thurdon, but nowadays, tourism has surpassed agriculture in economic importance both in terms of employment and income. Kilkhampton used to be a busy centre for a variety of markets and fairs.

"Kilk" has a substantial village with most shops, several good food outlets and places for refreshment. There is ample parking in front of the Church and there are public conveniences located here.

Grenville coat of arms

In a letter to a lady.

Travelling lately into Cornwall, I happened to alight at a considerable village in that country, where finding myself under an unexpected necessity of staying a little, I took a walk to which the church. The doors, like the heaven to which they lead, were wide open, and readily admitted an unworthy stranger. Pleased with the opportunity, I resolved to spend a few minutes under the sacred roof.
In a situation so retired and awful, I could not avoid falling into a train of meditations, serious and mournfully pleasing; which I trust were in some degree profitable to me, while they possessed and warmed my thoughts; and if they may administer any satisfaction to you, madam, now they are recollected and committed to writing. I shall receive a fresh pleasure from them.
It was an ancient pile; reared by hands, that, ages ago, were mouldered into dust. Situate in the centre of a large burial ground; remote from all the noise and hurry of tumultuous life – the body spacious; the structure lofty; the whole magnificently plain. A row of regular pillars extending themselves through the midst; supporting the roof with simplicity, and with dignity. The light that passed thro' the windows, seemed to shed a kind of luminous obscurity; which gave every object a grave and venerable air. The deep silence added to the gloomy aspect, and both heightened by the loneliness of the place, greatly increased the solemnity of the scene. A sort of religious dread stole insensibly on my mind, while I advanced, all pensive and thoughtful, along the inmost aisle; such a dread as hushed every ruder passion, and dissipated all the gay imagery of an alluring world.
Having adored that Eternal Majesty, who, far from being confined to temples made with hands, has heaven for his throne and the earth for his footstool. I took particular notice of a handsome altarpiece, presented, as I was afterwards informed, by the master-builders of Stow, out of Gratitude to God, who carried them through their work, and enabled them to "bring forth their top-stone with joy."
(Here, some paragraphs, taking two or three pages, about gratitude, inspiration, etc. in the romantic mode in which the majority of the book is written.)
The next thing which engaged my attention was the lettered floor. The pavement was somewhat like Ezekiel's roll, was written over from one end to the other. I soon perceived the comparison to hold good in another respect, the inscriptions to be matter of "mourning, lamentation, and woe." They seemed to court my observation; silently inviting me to read them. And what would these dumb monitors informe me of? "That, beneath their little circumferences, were deposited such and such pieces of clay, which once lived, and moved, and talked: That they had received a charge to preserve their names, and were the remaining trustees of their memory."
Ah, said I, is such my situation! the adorable Creator around me, and the bones of my fellow creatures under me! Surely, then I have great reason to cry out, with the revering patriarch, How dreadful is the place! (Ezek ii.10) Seriousness and devotion become this house for ever. May I never enter it lightly or irreverently; but with a profound awe and godly fear!
(Another long page of "romantic" reflections.)
Examining the records of mortality, I found the memorials of a promiscuous multitude.* *Mista fenum ac juvenum denfantur funera. They were huddled, at least they rested, together, without any regard to the rank or seniority. None were ambitious of the uppermost rooms, or chief seats, in this house of mourning. None entertained fond and eager expectations of being honourably greeted in their darksome cells. The man of years and experience, deputed as a oracle in his generation, was content to lie down at the feet of a babe. In this house appointed for all living, the servant was equally accommodated, and lodged in the same story with his master.
The poor indigent lay as softly and slept as soundly, as the most opulent possessor. All the distinction that subsisted, as a grassy hillock, bound with ofiers; or a sepulchral stone, ornamented with imagery.
(He continues in "romantic" reveries and reflections, paeans to which all of the rest of the book – over 425 pages – is devoted.)

The above passage is about Kilkhampton Church and was taken from the book Meditations and Contemplations by James Hervey 1797


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