Kimmeridge is a parish on the south coast on the Isle of Purbeck about 10 miles south from Wareham.  The parishes of Steeple and Church Knowle are to the west and north with Corfe Castle to the east. The church, dedicated to St Nicholas, is small and plain and parts of it are about 800 years old. Within are memorials to the Clavells of Smedmore. The registers date from 1694. The geological structure of the coast is interesting and the bituminous shale found here burns with a strong light.

In the 17th century Sir William Clavell established a successful alum works which operated from 1605 to 1618. Kimmeridge was developed as a commercial port when a stone quay was built to deal with the shale trade. Tramways were built down to the jetties to enable the export of industrial products by sea. The quay never paid its way and was destroyed in a storm in 1745.

Kimmeridge Church about 1950

One of the chief employers in the parish in the 19th century was the Coastguard Station. There was a Post Office and telegraph office and a National School which was built in 1866. The parish comprises 1570 acres which is mainly clay and is laid to pasture. The population in 1841 was 154, in 1861 it was 185, in 1881 there were 171 and in 1901 it was down to 126.

Clavell Tower was built in about 1830 by Reverend John Richards Clavell of Smedmore House as an observatory and folly. The tower is about 35 feet high and rises over what is known as Hen Cliff which rises about 330 feet above the sea. The main tower is constructed of mortared selected stone and the windows are formed from brick. The turret above Kimmeridge Bay was threatened by shoreline erosion and was in imminent danger of toppling into the sea below. In 2008 the Landmark Trust moved the tower 82 feet inland, away from the crumbling cliff top.

Photographs from old postcards and text extracted from Kelly's Directory for 1895. Postcard on the left is circa 1910.

The OPC for Kimmeridge is Louise Haywood
You can contact Louise by clicking on the link above to generate an email

Census 1841, 1851, & 1861 Census
1871, 1881, 1891 & 1901 Census
1911 Census
Parish Registers
Baptisms 1684-1841
Marriages 1702-1840
Burials 1701-1841
Postal Directories  
Monumental Inscriptions St Nicholas Monumental Inscriptions index [Jan Hibberd]
Other Records Lay Subsidy Roll 1327 & 1332
Poll Tax of 1381
Tudor Subsidies 1523-1593
Tudor Muster Rolls 1539 & 1569
Protestation Return 1641-2
Hearth Tax Assessment 1662
Links Kimmeridge Alum Works [External site]
Kimmeridge Shale [External site]
Kimmeridge Oil Shale [External - Academic site with excellent photographs and maps]
Maps The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Kimmeridge' under place search.
KimmeridgeMap.jpg (137435 bytes) For modern location maps visit:-
For a 1920s map of the area, click on the thumbnail on the left.

Records held at the Dorset History Centre Registers
Christenings 1684-1808. Marriages 1702-1977. Burials 1701-1812.


Visitors to Dorset OPC

shopify site analytics

Privacy Policy

Copyright (c) 2018 Dorset OPC Project