Kessell, 25, re-joined his home club Cornish Pirates in 2011 after a short stay at Plymouth Albion, having first played the game for the Mennaye outfit at minis level in 1995.
His 100th appearance for the Pirates came against Bedford in November 2014 – a month in which he earned a call-up for the Championship XV that beat Canada 28-23 at Sixways. Kessell also has other representative honours to his name, having toured Canada with England Counties in 2010, scoring tries on a pair of starts in North America.
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes Kessell has the potential to succeed in the top flight.
“Tom has shown great promise in the Championship and has had his performances recognised with selection for the team that played Canada last year,” he commented. “We believe that he has the potential to perform in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe and are looking forward to seeing him develop here at Franklin’s Gardens.”
Kessell, who has signed a short-term deal in the meantime with title-chasing Bristol, is excited by the prospect of moving to the East Midlands.
“Joining the Saints is a fantastic opportunity for me,” he said. “I'm really looking forward to working with the calibre of players that the club's already got. Hopefully I'll be able to develop as a work in progress, take any opportunity that I can get, and be the best that I can.”