MSO9466 - 18th Century pottery kiln in Dunster Park (Building)


A post-medieval pottery kiln, comprising a circular stone building with brick jambs and brick linings and a shallow conical brick roof. It was part of a pottery run in conjunction with the Luttrell Estate Brickworks, established around 1750.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

Full Description

Circular stone building with brick jams and lined internally with brick. Conical brick roof concealed externally by stone parapet and ivy. 3 metres diameter and internally 2.6 metres high. There is a simple doorway on the south and blocked apertures 50 centimetres by 75 centimetres at the west and east ground level which apparently pierced the walls. The floor is brick laid but disturbed. The domed roof has several vents by omitting brick voussours. [1] "Old pottery kiln" marked at this location. [2] The kiln is shown in a landscape painting at Dunster Castle in 1765. Whilst it has been relined the structure appears identical which would make this the oldest kiln in the country surviving as a standing structure. [4] Kiln scheduled on 24 April 2002. [5] It lies in the garden of the Luttrell Arms Hotel at SS 9923 4387. The building is of local red sandstone and is circular, measuring 4.3 metres in diameter (external). The doorway, on the south side, is an arched opening with brick detail, 0.7 metres wide and 1.9 metres high. The walls are 0.8 metres thick. The roof is very overgrown but appears to be a brick dome, concealed by a parapet. There appears to have been structures on both the east and west sides of the kiln. The structure is built on the edge of a very steep slope to the north: it is buttressed on its north side, and some cracks are opening up. At the time of the visit there was no access to the interior. [7] This structure is all that remains of a pottery run in conjunction with the Luttrell Estate Brickworks, established on the Warren around 1750 (MSO7565). The history of Dunster pottery is detailed in Binding 1990. [9] The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 8. [10] The pottery house was demolished around 1850, however the decision was made by the estate to preserve the feature and it was converted to a gardener's shed and was in use for overy 150 years. The kiln is now owned by the Luttrell Arms Hotel and leased by Exmoor National Park. [11] The kiln is within Dunster's Conservation Area. The Character Appraisal document of 2002 states "The mid 18th century Pottery Kiln to the rear of the Luttrell Arms, formerly on the above mentioned Buildings at Risk register has undergone recent restoration. It is considered an example of a rare type of kiln and is possibly a unique survival in the country." [12] This is a simple updraught kiln for firing earthernware. The pottery house, containing adjoining workshops to the west of the kiln was demolished around 1850. Scars from the pitched roof of an enclosing workshop protecting the fireboxes can be seen on the kiln dome. The lowest part of the kiln contains two opposing fireboxes (now blocked) and a series of brick flues to distribute heat below a pierced floor. The floor has been lost but the flues are still present, they were probably adapted in the 19th century for coal. The main chamber was above the floor up to the corbelled brick ceiling and dry pots would be stacked in here for firing. The ceiling contained a series of vents for heat to be drawn up around the pots to the chimney at the top of the kiln. The chimney, which has lost about 50cm in height, is now blocked. The four arched openings into a void between the ceiling and conical roof provided access to the potter to control the heat around the kiln by opening or blocking the vents. It probably took about 36 hours to fire the kiln which would then be left for 24 hours to cool before the door blocking was broken down and the pots were removed. The type of pottery made here is known from broken fragments retrieved from excavating the flues, and documentary evidence relating the production of kitchen wares. The situation of the kiln in Dunster Castle Park on a hillock in full view of the Castle suggests it was also a designed landscape feature. It was built at a time when Henry Fowles Luttrell was making many fashionable improvements to the park, a pottery kiln firing at night is an impressive sight. The kiln is depicted in miniature in a panorama of the park commissioned by H. F. Luttrell in 1768 [11, 14]. A restoration project on the kiln was undertaken in 2000 [13] and a further restoration project was undertaken in 2013 to repair new structural cracks and further consolidate the structure. [15] The site was surveyed in April 2015 as part of the 2015 Exmoor Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment. It was given a survival score of 6. [16] The kiln is depicted on 2018 MasterMap data at SS 9922 4386. It is labelled "Kiln (disused)". [19] A full discussion of the kiln, its form, landscape setting and the wares that it produced was made by Kent and Dawson in 2007. [20] The building was photographed by RCHME in 1991 and 1999. [21,22] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [23,24] The building is mentioned in the 2018 Conservation Area Appraisal for Dunster. [25] The building is mentioned in a publication on the industrial archaeology of Somerset. [26]

Sources/Archives (26)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33572.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1904. 25" sheet. 35(10).
  • <3> Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. 28.09.77. Somerset County Council to Trust House Forte 28.09.77 - site visit.
  • <4> Unassigned: Dawson, D. 5/9/2000. County Museum.
  • <5> Unpublished document: English Heritage. 10/6/2002. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
  • <6> Monograph: Dawson, D and Kent, O. 1990. Pottery Kiln.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1998.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1900-. Somerset County Council / South West Heritage Trust staff comments. I Burrow, SCPD, 25 April 1979.
  • <9> Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press. p62-4.
  • <10> Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
  • <11> Leaflet: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2011. The Pottery House in the Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • <12> Report: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Exmoor National Park Authority. p15, 23.
  • <13> Article in serial: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2000. Unique Pottery Kiln Restored. Exmoor Park Life. 6. and section.
  • <14> Article in serial: Dawson, D. + Kent, O.. 2008. The Development of the Bottle Kiln in Pottery Manufacture in Britain. Post-Medieval Archaeology. 42. 1. pp 217-220 Figs 19 &20 incl plan and section.
  • <15> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Shirley Blaylock, 19 December 2013.
  • <16> Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015. Archaedia.
  • <17> Article in serial: Michinson, S.. 2016. Archaeologists in race against time: Brief glimpse of medieval Dunster. West Somerset Free Press. 15 April 2016. 3.
  • <18> Report: Unknown. 2012. Specification and schedule of works for conservation repairs to Dunster Pottery Kiln, Dunster, Somerset.
  • <19>XY Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #38433 ]
  • <20> Article in serial: Kent, O. and Dawson, D.P.. 2007. 'Animated Prospect' - An 18th-century Kiln at 'The Pottery House in the Old Park', Dunster, Somerset. Estate Landscapes. Design, Implementation and Power in the Post-Medieval Landscape. 4. 95-112.
  • <21> Photograph: Hesketh-Roberts, M.. 1999. Job: Pottery Kiln. Colour. Negative.
  • <22> Collection: Williams, P.. 1991. Volume: Pottery Kiln To Rear Of Luttrell Arms, 36 High Street, Dunster.
  • <23> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1119423, Extant 19 May 2022.
  • <24> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1321691, Updated 19 May 2022.
  • <25> Report: Pratt, N. and Thurlow, T.. 2018. Dunster Conservation Area: appraisal document. Exmoor National Park Authority. p 28, 76, 95, Figure 23.
  • <26> Monograph: Daniel, P. (Ed.). 2019. A guide to the industrial archaeology of Somerset. Association for Industrial Archaeology. 2nd Edition. p 69, W15.1.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11235
  • Local Heritage List Status (Rejected)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE114
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE53
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NBR Index Number: 105629
  • NBR Index Number: 99/01185
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1119423
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1321691
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33572



Grid reference Centred SS 9922 4386 (4m by 5m)
Map sheet SS94SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Oct 11 2022 1:05PM


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