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Kelston

Bath, Somerset

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Kelston, Somerset from the air

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Kelston, a village on the north-western side of Bath in Somerset, was, like Bradford on Avon, a manor that belonged to the Abbey of Shaftesbury in the Middle Ages. It seems to have been run as a part of the Abbey’s holdings in Bradford, although little contemporary documentation has survived.

No charter granting Kelston to Shaftesbury Abbey has been found, but it was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086 as being part of the Abbey’s Manor of Bradford [on Avon] in Wiltshire, hidden under the name Alvestone, because a scribe must have dropped the initial letter of Calvestone. There is no entry for Kelston in the Domesday Book for Somerset. The name suggests that it was a specialised calf-raising unit for the abbey.

“To this manor of Bradford belongs Alvestone. In the time of King Edward [the Confessor] it paid tax for 7 hides [units of land area], apart from the above 42 hides [of Bradford on Avon itself]. There is land for 6 ploughs, of this land 4 hides is in demesne; there are three ploughs there.”

The 7 hides mentioned there accounts for an otherwise mysterious area of land that was missing when adding up the size of the medieval Bath Hundred, the rest of which had been given by various kings of Wessex and England to the Abbey of Bath. A Richard de Kelveston became Vicar of Bradford in 1312. In 1383 men and stone were sent from Bradford to Kelston to build an oxhouse for the Abbey’s Reeve, its chief official there. After the dissolution of Shaftesbury Abbey in 1593 Kelston was granted by King Henry VIII, with Batheaston and St Catherine’s, to John Dyngley and from then on it was a true part of the Hundred of Bath Forum in Somerset and so no longer connected with Bradford on Avon.

The aerial photograph shows the parish church, an old barn and earthworks that remain from the big Elizabethan manor house that was demolished when the present Kelston Park mansion was built in the 1760s by John Wood the younger. The body of the church of St Nicholas was largely rebuilt in the 19th century, but the 13th century west tower remains of the medieval building. In the chancel there is part of a Saxon cross with interlace carving. Manor Farm Barn dates from the late 15th or early 16th century and was probably built by Shaftesbury Abbey.

Kelston Somerset history

Kelston Bibliography

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Nicolle, Jason St. John 1993. A Note on the identification of of ‘Alvestone’ in Wiltshire Domesday. Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 86, pp. 151-152.

Pevsner, Nikolaus 1958. Buildings of England: North Somerset and Bristol. Revised by Andrew Foyle 2011 as Somerset: North and Bristol.

Thorn, Caroline & Frank (eds.) 1979. Domesday Book; 6 Wiltshire. Phillimore.

Thorn, Frank 2005. The Hundred of Bath in 1086 and before. Bath History 10, pp. 9-27.

Thorn, Frank 2008. Kelston in Domesday Book. Somerset Archaeology & Natural History Proceedings, pp. 139-151.

Thorn, Frank R. 2010. “That most famous monasterium at Bath”, its hundred hides and its estates, viewed from South Stoke. Somerset Archaeology & Natural History Proceedings 153, pp. 13-53.