The village of Kemerton was known as Cyneburgincgtun in 840 AD. Charmingly situated on the south side of Bredon Hill, the village was in Gloucestershire until the boundary changes of 1933.
Kemerton’s former parish church was demolished and rebuilt in 1848 after much controversy in the Victorian Gothic style. The old building was reputed to have been in very poor condition and the demolition was the work of the then rector, Archdeacon John Thorpe. Only the medieval tower remains of the original church. Today this may be considered a ‘crime against heritage’. But at least Kemerton’s original church can be seen in a photograph which hangs in the present church.
The old church had an interesting and rather unusual feature for a parish church – there was a small room above the porch which was used as a priest’s chamber.
The Roman Catholic church is dedicated to St Benet. It was consecrated in 1843. St Benet’s has some of the finest old vestments in the country.
The village school, built in 1847 at a cost of £700, was closed in 1965 and converted into flats. The young children of the village now go to the neighbouring village school in Overbury.
The village hall, a focal point for residents, was completed in 1902 and named in memory of Queen Victoria. Kemerton also has a post office, general store and a family butcher.
One of Kemerton’s most notable buildings is the Crown Inn. This one-time coaching inn and alehouse has its origins in the 18th Century, with its floor partly of slabs and its listed stone fireplace and wooden beams. At one time there was an interconnecting door to the adjoining property. This almost certainly provided the accommodation for travellers as adjoining the property was a hire business offering waggonettes and hunters for hire.
The village lays claim to some of Bredon Hill’s most important archaeological features. Kemerton Camp and the Bambury Stone are both within this parish, as is Bell’s Castle, built by a sailor (or rather a pirate or smuggler), Captain Edmund Bell, in 1825, with his criminally obtained wealth. He transformed a row of labourers’ cottages into what is now a very fancy large house with battlements and turrets.
Many legends exist about Captain Bell’s smuggling activities. It is believed he preyed on French ships and had his loot smuggled up river to Bredon and taken up the hill by packhorse or secret tunnel. It is said that Captain Bell’s more illegal activities were brought to the attention of the law and he was hanged in 1841. Bell’s Castle is now a private residence.
At the highest point on Bredon Hill is a square tower known either as Parsons’ Folly or the Summer House. This folly was built by Mr Parsons of Kemerton in the 18th Century and can be seen for miles around. Each Good Friday, pilgrims from villages all around Bredon Hill climb the hill for a short service on top of the hill next to the tower.
Lower down the hill is The Priory, with its beautiful gardens and rare plants, open to the public in summer.