MDE1252 - Post-medieval limekilns on The Esplanade, Lynmouth (Building)


Two limekilns, set into the base of steep cliffs overlooking the Western Beach at Lynmouth. Lime kilns were first documented here in 1698, but only one kiln was shown on an 1824 map of Lynmouth; the second is presumably a later addition.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

The lime kilns at Lynmouth (SS 7219 4964) have been restored by Lynmouth Urban District Council. [1] Chanter gives a date of grant as 1698. [2] The lime kilns are 18th Century or earlier, are whitewashed stone structures with a pair of embrasures now furnished with seats. The flat top is used as a roof garden. They are situated on what is now the small esplanade, and are a relic of the days when lime was imported and burnt here. [3] SS 7218 4965. A block of two conjoined lime kilns set into the base of steep wooded cliffs overlooking the Esplanade and Western Beach at Lynmouth (. They have been renovated and whitewashed. Chanter [2] refers to tenements at Mare Hill, as being, or having been, limekilns in, or before 1698. A plan of Lynmouth in 1824 appears to show only one kiln here (annotated lime kiln), so presumably at some later date a second kiln was added. The rear (south) sides of the kilns are cut into the base of the steep cliff slopes, so the exact overall measurements are not available, however the combined kilns are about 15.3 metres wide by 10 metres deep. They stand 4.4 metres high at the front with a wall 0.7 metres high surmounting their rim. There is a central access lobby serving both kilns. The external draw hole arches, or lobbies, have been utilised to form shelters. The eastern kiln has three draw holes, each about 2.3 metres wide at the front. The eastern one is blocked by a stone wall and steps across its entrance. The others are each 2.4 metres high at the front and 3.2 metres deep. The western kiln has only two draw holes. The eastern one is 2.6 metres wide, 2 metres deep and 2.3 metres maximum height. The western one is 2.4 metres wide, 2.5 metres deep and 2.5 metres maximum height, with a small rectangular hole, 0.3 metres by 0.3 metres and 0.4 metres deep, set in its western wall, and 0.8 metres above ground level. All the visible draw holes have corbelled roofs, which curve to ground level at the rear. Their poking holes and grate accesses into the combustion chambers, or bowls, have been blocked and the bowl themselves have been infilled and are no longer visible. The top is occupied by seats for use a a viewpoint. [4-6] The lime kilns are probably late 18th century. They are whitewashed rubble, with earth covered roof and in the form of a double bastion, connected at the left hand by a broad flight of steps with the Pavilion (not included). There are two broad conjoined openings to the north, with flat, segmental voussoir heads over deep hearths, which are partly filled by later masonry. A small square flue leads out from one of these. There is a third hearth to the left, and a fourth on the eastern return, now partly covered by steps, and a fifth to the right, facing west. The top of the kiln forms part of a promenade, and is enclosed by the upper walls of the kiln with on-edge copings at approx 0.4 - 0.9 metres above earth level. [10] The late 18th century kiln bank is recommended for scheduling or Grade II* listing. [11] A double block kiln, about 15.3 metres wide and 10 metres deep, built against a cliff embankment. They have been restored by Lynmouth Urban District Council and are in a good state of repair. [12] The limekilns were subject to structural survey in May 2012 as part of proposals to install a railing to the roof. The survey found no further deterioration since the limited survey undertaken in August 2011 and concurred with the findings of the report, which mentioned a need for repointing, vegetation removal and replacement of missing stones to the 'standing stone' coping; undulation of the gravel surfacing to the upper level of the kilns; differential movement within the stonework, leading to longstanding but relatively minor cracking. The 2012 report also noted that two lintels (upper and lower) were in poor condition and possibly required replacement; it also suggested removal of the existing paint covering and reinstatement of the previous lime wash coating. [14] The lime kilns near the harbour are evidence of a former major local industry. Limestone transported in from South Wales by sailing ketches and taken to the kilns in horse drawn “butts.” The kilns were originally fired by charcoal and the resulting lime raked out when cool. Much of the lime was destined for agricultural use, to counteract the acidity of local soils, although some would have been used by the building trade for lime mortars, washes and putty. The kilns are thought to have been last used in 1910. Fronting The Esplanade, are the remains of lime kilns, probably dating from the late 18th Century, although one reference mentions a grant of 1698. They are built of stone rubble whitewashed over, with an earth-covered roof, the top forming part of a promenade, enclosed by the upper walls of the kilns. The listing details describe the kiln as in the form of a double bastion. There are two openings with flat segmental voussoir heads over the deep hearths, now partly filled. There were originally a further three hearths but these are now mainly covered. They served a demand for lime to be added to the local acid soils, and along this part of the coast there was a regular trade in limestone across the Bristol Channel. [15] The kilns were visited in April 2012 as part of the rapid condition survey of Exmoor's Listed Buildings 2012-13. They received a BAR score of 5A. [17] The lime kilns are visible on the 1840 Lynton Tithe map and are annotated as 'L. Kiln'. [18] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [19]

Sources/Archives (19)

  • <1> Monograph: Minchinton, W.. 1976. Industrial Archaeology in Devon. Dartington Amenity Research Trust. 3rd Edition. Number 1. P.14.
  • <2> Article in serial: Chanter, J.F.. 1906. The Parishes of Lynton and Countisbury. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. 114-224. P.126, map P.149.
  • <3> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: Lynton (3 Sept 1973) 8.
  • <4> Monograph: Williams, R.. 1989. Limekilns and Limeburning. Shire. P.20.
  • <5> Collection: Hesketh-Roberth, M.. 1996. Lime Kilns, The Esplanade, Lee Bay, Lynton and Lynmouth.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 28 October 1993.
  • <7> Report: Weddell, P.J.. 1992. Preliminary Archaeological Assessment of Lynton Sewage Treatment Works. P.3.
  • <8> Report: Turton, S.D. + Weddell, P.J.. 1993. Preliminary Archaeological Assessment of Lynton/Lynmouth Sewage Treatment Works (Electricity Sub Station). P.4.
  • <9> Report: Rance, C. + Weddell, P.J.. 1994. Archaeological Assessment of SWW Sewage Treatment Works at Lynton and Lynmouth (Manor House Scheme). P.4.
  • <10> Index: Department of the Environment. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest . HHR: Lynton and Lynmouth (9 June 1995) 92.
  • <11> Report: Trueman, M.. 1997. Monuments Protection Programme Step 3 Report: Lime, Cement and Plaster Industries - Site Assessments.
  • <12> Report: Holley, S.. 1997. An Investigation of Limekilns on Exmoor for the Purposes of Conservation. Site 027; site visit 23 Nov 1996.
  • <13> Technical drawing: RGP Architects Ltd. 2011. Proposed Refurbishment, Lynmouth Pavilion. 1:100 & 1:200.
  • <14> Report: Watmore, A.. 2012. Condition Survey & Feasibility Survey of Lynmouth Lime Kilns.
  • <15> Report: Fisher, J.. 2003. Lynmouth: Conservation Area Character Appraisal. 7, 16.
  • <16> Report: Carpenter, P.B.. 2011. Lynmouth Lime Kilns, Lynmouth.
  • <17> Report: Lawrence, G.. 2014. Exmoor National Park: Rapid condition survey of listed buildings 2012-13.
  • <18> Map: 1840. Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <19> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 35192, Extant 13 December 2021.



Grid reference Centred SS 7218 4965 (15m by 15m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (3)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5A): 858/1/4/84/1
  • 2012-3 Building At Risk Score (5A): 858/1/4/84/2
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 24048
  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 682
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/109
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/9
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20047
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20969
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW19
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 76734
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 35192

Record last edited

Dec 13 2021 9:35PM


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