Kilkhampton or ‘Kilk’ as the place is known locally, sits astride the A39 ‘Atlantic Highway’, following the line of the old ridge way, from Bude to Bideford and like all North Cornwall has a colourful history that goes way back so far that much is lost to the mists of time. The Parish of Kilkhampton stretches from the edge of the Tamar lakes to the beaches of Sandymouth and Duckpool and sits on a plateau about 5 – 6 Hundred feet above sea level. There are barrow cemeteries dating to the Bronze age, located around the Parish that suggest this area has been occupied by man for many centuries. The Saxons were definitely here because the Doomsday survey states ‘that King William I, holds a meadow and Harold (the Saxon King) had it before him.’ This meadow known as Lords Meadow was possibly linked to the agricultural system of strip fields that surround the Saxon town of Kilkhampton. There is the Manor of Kilkhampton and the Barton of Aldercombe as well as the Glebe lands in the Hundred of Stratton. Kilkhampton Castle is a short walk due west from the Village. It is a Motte and Bailey late Norman Castle and further west in Stowe Woods is another earthwork. The 1084 Doomsday record says Kilkhampton had 3 leagues of woods and some still survive in the valleys at Stow and Hessaford. The Norman-French Lords of the Manor were called Grenville and their lands passed by direct descent through the names of Carteret and Thynne until today, but they now only retain the ‘rite of wreck’, on the shoreline.
Kilkhampton church was probably rebuilt in the late 15th Century, but still has the magnificent south doorway that was constructed in about 1200 AD. The Church, which is dedicated to St James the Great lays on a famous pilgrims route that started with the pilgrims sailing from Wales to Clovelly in Devon, and then on through Morwenstow, Kilkhampton Jacobstow, Boscastle, Trevalga and ultimately Fowey on the south coast, where they re-embarked for Compostella in Spain.
The church of St James the Great has an ornately carved, late Norman door frame. The building appears to have developed in parallel with the economic success of the 16th Century and now displays a notable series of carved Tudor pew ends, a superb organ which was gifted to the church by Lord John Thynne in 1859, some fine wall monuments that are credited to local man, Michael Chuke. You will also find tall slender pillars from Lundy Island supporting the church and the Grenville coat of arms is seen throughout.
The memorial that stands outside the church is dedicated to the men of Kilkhampton, who lost their lives in both the Great War of 1914-1919 and WWII of 1939-1945.
Nearby is Lamb Park with extensive sports facilities and playground for children
The dwelling houses and businesses of Kilkhampton have evolved over the years to support a largely agriculture based community. Kilkhampton has retained two of its ancient hamlets at Stibb and Thurdon, but nowadays, tourism has surpassed agriculture in economic importance both in terms of employment and income. Kilkhampton was formerly a busy centre for markets and fairs.
‘Kilk’ is a substantial village with most shops, several good food outlets and places for refreshment. There is ample parking in front of the Church and there are public conveniences.