KIMMERIDGE is a small village and civil parish on the Island of PURBECK, a peninsula on the English Channel Coast in Dorset, England. It is situated about 7.2km south of WAREHAM and 11km west of SWANAGE, in the Purbeck administrative District.
It is a coastal parish and its coastline forms part of Site of Special Interest and the whole parish is part of the Dorset area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. KIMMERIDGE Village is sited beside a small stream on a roughly southwest-facing slope between the English Channel Coast less than 1.6km to the southwest and a curving line of hills immediately to the north and east. KIMMERIDGE civil parish has several protected landscape designations covering it in whole or part. Its coastline forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, that was designated in 2001 due to global significance of its geological features and earth science interest.
The geology of KIMMERIDGE comprises bedrock formed in the Late Jurassic Epoch, overlain in many places by superficial QUATEMARY head deposits. The bedrock is mainly KIMMERIDGE clay, except for the top of SMEDMORE HILL and along to SWYRE HEAD, which is formed from Portland Stone. Between this and the KIMMERIDGE clay and outcropping just beneath the top of the hill, is a thin band of Portland Sand. Within the KIMMERIDGE clay are bands of bituminous shale and DOLOSTONE, which form flat ledges within KIMMERIDGE BAY, that are exposed at low tide.
KIMMERIDGE gives its name to the KIMMERIDGIAN, the division of the Jurassic Period in which the beds were laid down, because of the quality of the cliffs and the fossils they yield.
Within KIMMERIDGE parish, there are 25 structures that have been listed by Historic England for their historic or architectural interest. None has been listed as Grade — 1, but SMEDMORE HOUSE is Grade —2. Along the shore, immediately eastwards of KIMMERIDGE BAY (above HEN CLIFF) is CLAVELL TOWER. It had been in danger of falling down the eroding cliff, so recently the tower was dismantled and then re-assembled 115ft further back from the cliff edge. The Tower is available as a holiday let.
The PARISH CHURCH was mostly rebuilt in 1872, though it has 12th century origins —- the south door and parts of the west wall are still original. The south porch is early 13th century and the ‘bell-cote’ is 15th century.
The MUSEUM of JURASSIC MARINE LIFE : In 2014, 2.7million pounds was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, for the purpose of creating a new museum in KIMMERIDGE, on the site of the old village hall. The project, costing a total of 5million pounds, will also house conservation workshops and a new village hall and community space. The museum, to be called the MUSEUM of JURASSIC MARINE LIFE, will display the ETCHES Collection of over 2,000 fossils, collected over 30years by village resident Steve Etches. The Museum is scheduled to open in 2016.
KIMMERIDGE BAY is a surfing area which breaks infrequently due to its exposure to Atlantic swells, but can produce walls of water when it is ‘on’. Below the cliffs to the east is THE LEDGES, with slow left-and-right-hand breaking waves. The right-handers can spiral for 64metres or more into the Bay. To the west is BROAD BENCH, within the Ministry of Defence Firing Range and only accessible when the ranges are open to the public.