The Patron Saint of the church is St James, the brother of St John the Evangelist. He is also the Patron Saint of Spain and of pilgrims. The early association of Kilkhampton Church with the Priory of St James, Bristol might account for the dedication. Another suggestion is that the church lies on a famous pilgrimage route from St David's in Wales to Compostella in Spain, The traditional burial place of St James.
There are several sites of ancient camps, and burrows (burial places) in the neighbourhood signifying an early occupation.
One Celtic word remains "Killock" meaning a "Little Cell" a place of religious seclusion. (There is a Killock farm today about a mile south of the village).
The Roman "Ridgeway" which passes through the village, probably follows the track of an earlier people.
We may assume that when the Saxons built their "ton" or town here, they named it after the "Little Cell" nearby, and so Killockton it was and Kilketon it became. The arrangement of the strips of fields around the village suggests that the town was of Saxon origin, and that there was sufficient land under cultivation to warrant a population of about one hundred and twenty. By the time the Saxons had moved westwards into Cornwall, they had become Christians, and it is possible that a Saxon church stood here although there is no evidence.
1085-Kilkhampton is mentioned in the Doomsday Book in an entry "The King holds Chilchetone"
The first Sir Richard de Granville of Kilkhampton and Bideford, was the elder brother, of Robert Fitz Hamon and they both came over from Normandy with William the Conqueror, their near kinsman.
1088-Fitz Hamon held important commands in the Norman army in the west, and as a reward for his support during Odo's revolt in this year, William Rufus granted him the Honour of Gloucester, together with the manors of Bideford and Kilkhampton.
1091-Fitz Hamon took possession of Glamorganshire, and gave the Manor of Neath to his brother Richard (Granville) and seated himself at Cardiff.
1102-Fitz Hamon rebuilt Tewkesbury Abbey in Gloucestershire.
1107-Fitz Hamon was buried in Tewkesbury abbey having been mortally wounded in Normandy, while leading Henry I's army.
After Fitz Hamons death, his titles according to Norman law came to his brother Richard (Granvill), and his lands passed to his daughter Mable, wife of Robert Fitzroy, the first Earl of Gloucester (illegitimate son of Henry I ).
When Sir Richard received the Manors of Kilkhampton and Bideford it appears the Advowson or right of patronage was given to the priory of St James a daughter house of Tewkesbury Abbey. Thus for over 100 years, the Abbots of Tewkesbury exercised the rights of patronage , but not without many disputes with the Granvilles who claimed they were being deprived of their right. However in 1238, the abbey sold the right of presentation to the Granvilles and from that day and for many years the Granvilles and their descendants have been patrons of Kilkhampton Church.
1129-Richard Granville built Neath Abbey in Glamorganshire. After this he returned to his patrimony at Bideford where he lived.
Today Neath Abbey is in ruins. All that remains of Sir Richards Norman Church at Bideford is the tower, the font and a stoup; and the only part of his Kilkhampton Church is the fine south doorway, which is considered one of the best pieces of Norman work in Cornwall.
Tradition says that in very old age, Sir Richard set off for the Holy Land and died on the journey.
1453-Sir Thomas Granville born.
His monument can be found in Bideford Church.
Married twice. By his first wife he had eight children, the eldest of whom was Roger who succeed him. By his second wife he had two children of whom John was the elder.
In his will, Sir Thomas wrote as follows:
"Also I will that John Grayn Felde, if he be disposed as Preste, to have the next avoydance of one of the benefices of Bedyforde or Kilkhampton. And if he will be no Preste, that my soune Roger Graynfelde and his heirs see him have sum reasonable living of landes by their discretion."
1493-Roger came to live at Kilkhampton after the marriage to Margaret Whitleigh.
The church except the Norman Door, is wholly of the Perpendicular period, of the late Fifteenth century or early sixteenth. It is therefore difficult to say whether it was the work of Sir Thomas or his son Roger, but since Sir Roger because of his "princely liberality" towards his friends was styled " The Great Housekeeper," we are inclined to believe that he may also have been "The Great Church Builder".
1524-Roger died this year. John Grenville became Rector. He was rector during a long and troublesome time. It covered twenty-three years of Henry III's reign, the whole of Edward VI's and Mary's and went-two years of Elizabeth's. It was a time of conspiracies, of religious and executions, and yet a time when the English Bible and English Book of Common Prayer were issued.
1550-Sir Richard Granvill or Grenville became Squire of Kilkhampton and Bideford, and Patron of both benefices from this year until his death in 1591.
1567-John Grenville turned his attention to the church exterior and built the porch. (Within this porch is the Norman doorway which it is believed was the work of the masons who built Tewkesbury Abbey).
1580-John Grenville rector died.
1591-Sir Richard Granvill or Grenville with his little ship the Revenge fought for fifteen hours against fifteen Spanish ships at the Battle of the Azores. It was at this battle he fell mortally wounded.
In the chancel you will find the sacred monograms "I.H.S." and "M.R." with crown.
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