MDE11676 - Lime kilns east of Watersmeet House (Building)


Two contiguous limekilns, at the base of the slope on the south bank of the East Lyn River east of Watersmeet House, served the Watersmeet Estate in the 19th Century.

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Full Description

Pair of lime kilns approximately 200 metres to east of Watersmeet House. Pair of lime kilns, now disused. Probably late 18th or early 19th Century. Coursed sandstone rubble. Pair of kilns on the south-east bank of the river east lyn. Square kiln to south-west has tapered square opening with segmental stone arch to rear and large inverted conical opening in top. Semi-corbelled openings, large cylindrical opening in top, and square stack to side. The kilns would probably have been supplied with limestone arriving from south wales by sea. [1] The northern kiln has been partially restored. This kiln is rectangular with extant shaft. The other is unrestored and the shaft wall above the slaking chamber has virtually collapsed. It appears to have an associated square chimney. [2] A block of two contiguous lime kilns set at the bottom of steep wooded slopes 2 metres above the south bank of the East Lyn River about 200 metres east of Watersmeet House. These kilns are shown on the Ordanance Survey map dated 1888 adjacent to a quarry in Barton Wood. They are depicted as a single building with two circular bowls and annotated "Old Limekilns". [5] The kilns served the Watersmeet Estate [6] and are untypically for this area of North Devon, located inland. They were used in the early 1800's with limestone brought from the Gower Peninsula in South Wales which was transported to the site by packhorse and mule. The limestone was converted to quicklime for use on the estate land and as mortar for building [7]. It is not known when they went out of use. The kilns are constructed of coarsed sandstone rubble, probably from the quarry to the immediate south. The north-east kiln is circular, about 5.3 metres in diameter and 3.7 metres high. It has two lobbies, one on the west and one on the north, each 2.2 metres wide, 2.6 metres deep and 2.2 metres high. Its central combustion chamber, or pot, is 3.1 metres in diameter and 2.1 metres deep and has, rather unusually, a chimney stack built into its north-east side which rises some 2.7 metres above the kiln base and 0.6 metres above the top of the kiln. The chimney is accessed from the rear of the north lobby.The south-west kiln is rectangular, about 6.3 metres north-east to south-west, and is set into the slope for about 7.5 metres. It is 5.5 metres high at the front and has an arched oval lobby, or draw hole, 2.8 metres wide and 2.1 metres high, on the south-west side. The corbelled lobby roof tapers inwards for 3.6 metres and the rear wall contains a rectangular grate hole, 0.6 metres square, 0.6 metres above the floor level. The poking hole 0.3 metres high and 0.2 metres wide, is 1.5m above the ground. The central combustion chamber is 3.4 metres in diameter across its top and 4 metres deep.The space between the two kilns is occupied by steps and there is a narrow working platform around the northern side and an access loading ramp on the south-east side. The distinctive designs of the two kilns suggests that they are of slightly different (unknown) dates. It is possible that the circular kiln is the oldest. Its smaller combustion chamber suggests that it may have become inadequate and the rectangular kiln with its larger chamber (twice the volume) was then built alongside it to hold more limestone. The chimney may have been added to the circular kiln at this later stage. Published survey 1:2500 accepted. [5] Two separate limekilns which have been restored by the National Trust. Built of coursed stone against/into bank. Eastern kiln semi-circular in shape with two draw holes of alcove type access, one with small chimney attached. Western kiln rectangular in shape with one draw hole of larger tunnel/lobby type access. Combustion chamber beaker shaped, one open, the other partly infilled. Other features, parapet. [4] The buildings were visited in September 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. They received a BAR score of 4A. [8]

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: Brendon (24 November 1988) 11.
  • <2> Report: Thackray, D. + Thackray, C.. 1986. Lynmouth: Foreland Point, Countisbury Hill & Watersmeet, Devon.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 16 June 1994.
  • <4> Report: Holley, S.. 1997. An Investigation of Limekilns on Exmoor for the Purposes of Conservation.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1888, Devon Sheet 3(14).
  • <6> Monograph: Keene, P. and Elsom, D.. 1990. Lyn in Flood: Watersmeet to Lynmouth. Thematic Trails. P. 26.
  • <7> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. National Trust Information board on site.
  • <8> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.



Grid reference Centred SS 7465 4863 (18m by 17m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS74NW

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Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (4A): 1549/3/14/1
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (4A): 1549/3/14/2
  • Devon SMR (Devonshire): SS74NW207
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 41706
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE21348
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW29
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • National Trust HER Record
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 926027

Record last edited

Jul 26 2021 9:39PM


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