This ancient stone lime kiln lies close to the Red Lion Hotel at the harbour.
The Lime Kiln produced lime for various uses between the 14th and 19th Centuries. Transporting lime was difficult during the pre-industrial era. So it was shipped from Wales, to small ports along this coast.
Burning lime has been an industry at Clovelly since the 14th century. Limestone burning became an important part of North Devon’s economy during the 18th and 19th centuries.
It has many uses as an element in the making of agricultural fertilizer, also as a stabilizer in mud renders, floors, mortar and whitewash.
Limestone and a coal, called culm, was shipped from South Wales to Clovelly harbour. Then it was carried up from the beach by donkeys to the lime kiln. The kiln was used for quicklime production, which is a by product of limestone.
Typically gangs took a day to load, three days to fire, two days to cool and a day to unload. Once burnt through and cooled, they raked it out from the base of the kiln through the draw hole. Then adding further layers of limestone and coal to the top to start the process all over again.
The working gangs, as you could imagine, found it an extremely exhausting and unpleasant job. Breathing dangerous noxious fumes left them choking and emerging with streaming red-eyes. They had no safety controls or protection and sadly many men died young as a result.
The second lime kiln at Mouthmill is, regrettably, in disrepair.
As a result, the village lime kiln is used these days with a store beneath. We have fitted safety railings around the top of the kiln, so it can be used for stalls, exhibitions, and children’s arts and crafts at our annual events.