MSO9466 - 18th Century pottery kiln in Dunster Park (Building)
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Type and Period (1)
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.  "Old pottery kiln" marked at this location.  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.  Kiln scheduled on 24 April 2002.  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.  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.  The Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment of 2009 gave the site a survival score of 8.  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.  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."  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  and a further restoration project was undertaken in 2013 to repair new structural cracks and further consolidate the structure.  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.  The kiln is depicted on 2018 MasterMap data at SS 9922 4386. It is labelled "Kiln (disused)".  A full discussion of the kiln, its form, landscape setting and the wares that it produced was made by Kent and Dawson in 2007. 
- <1> SSO1 Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. Various. Somerset HER parish files - Exmoor records. PRN 33572.
- <2> SSO1535 Map: Ordnance Survey. 1904. 25" sheet. 35(10).
- <3> SSO1939 Unpublished document: Somerset County Council. 28.09.77. Somerset County Council to Trust House Forte 28.09.77 - site visit.
- <4> SSO897 Unassigned: Dawson, D. 5/9/2000. County Museum.
- <5> SSO1120 Unpublished document: English Heritage. 10/6/2002. English Heritage to Somerset County Council.
- <6> SSO898 Monograph: Dawson, D and Kent, O. 1990. Pottery Kiln.
- <7> SMO7322 Unpublished document: Riley, H.. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 1998.
- <8> SMO5308 Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. I Burrow, SCPD, 25 April 1979.
- <9> SEM7516 Monograph: Binding, H.. Discovering Dunster. The Exmoor Press. p62-4.
- <10> SEM7402 Report: Bray, L.S.. 2010. Scheduled Monument Condition Assessment 2009, Exmoor National Park.
- <11> SEM7885 Leaflet: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2011. The Pottery House in the Park. Exmoor National Park Authority.
- <12> SEM7910 Unpublished document: Fisher, J.. 2002. Dunster Conservation Area Character Appraisal. p15, 23.
- <13> SEM7172 Article in serial: Exmoor National Park Authority. 2000. Unique Pottery Kiln Restored. Exmoor Park Life. 6. and section.
- <14> SEM7214 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> SMO5308 Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information.
- <16> SEM8278 Report: Gent, T. and Manning, P.. 2015. Exmoor National Park Scheduled Monument Condition Survey 2015.
- <17> SEM8312 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> SEM8488 Report: Unknown. 2012. Specification and schedule of works for conservation repairs to Dunster Pottery Kiln, Dunster, Somerset.
- <19>XY SEM8545 Map: Ordnance Survey. 2018. MasterMap. [Mapped feature: #38433 ]
- <20> SEM340761 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.
|Grid reference||Centred SS 9922 4386 (4m by 5m)|
|Civil Parish||DUNSTER, WEST SOMERSET, SOMERSET|
Related Monuments/Buildings (0)
Related Events/Activities (1)
External Links (1)
- http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=1119423 (Original Monarch entry: 1119423)
- Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11235
- National Monuments Record reference: SS 94 SE53
- National Park: Exmoor National Park
- Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 1119423
- Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 33572
Record last edited
Jun 8 2020 1:45PM
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