Curriculum Kernewek

Cornwall Agreed Syllabus 2011

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+ Guide to Churches and Chapels

The earliest Christian buildings in Cornwall were probably the simple chapels and cells built by the Cornish Saints and their followers. Many were built inside enclosures known as 'lanns', and developed into settlements. Some have remained in constant use and later Cornish churches were often built on the sites of these original chapels.

Despite their early origins many churches, like St Juliot at Boscastle, have no records of their development until 1086 when they are mentioned in the Domesday Book. At this time they were for the most part simple chapels consisting solely of a nave and chancel.

In the C13th and C14th many Cornish churches were extended and made cruciform (cross-shaped) through the addition of transepts which were intended for burial. Development typically occurred in phases, for instance, at Landrake a two-stage tower along with a medieval treble bell was added in the C15th and a south aisle was probably added in the early C16th. Local stone, predominantly granite and slate, was typically used in church constructions. At Padstow Church, the dark grey stone used in the windows was quarried locally at Cataclews Point near Harlyn Bay and the nave columns are made of limestone, possibly from Beer in Devon.

The Reformation brought a great deal of change and during this time church construction slowed and many church interiors were altered. For instance, at Landulph Church, pictures of the Rood were burnt, wall paintings of Saints defaced and the churchyard cross damaged. Church construction did continue in some places, like in Poundstock, where the community built a new gildhouse. Some historians think that by building a new gildhouse at that time, the people of Poundstock were demonstrating their resistance to the new changes introduced by the Church of England.

Several churches were damaged by Parliamentarians during the Civil War, for instance the medieval stained glass windows at Creed Church were vandalised. By the C19th many Cornish churches were in a terrible state of repair and many of their vicars embarked on campaign of renovation and restoration, often financing the work from their own funds.

When the Cornish Diocese was re-established in 1876, there was much debate over where a cathedral should be located in the Diocese. Ultimately, the site of the Parish Church of St Mary’s in Truro was chosen as the site of the new cathedral. Edward White Benson became the first Bishop of Truro in 1877, but the Cathedral was not opened until 1910.

The building of Truro Cathedral was in part, a response to the spread of non-conformism. The popularity of Methodism led to the construction of Non-conformist Chapels all over Cornwall during the C19th. These simple structures were often built by the congregations who quarried, transported and laid the stone themselves. Galleries were incorporated to accommodate large numbers of people and chapels were extended to include Sunday Schools. Overflowing chapels led to the design of very large non-conformist churches like the United Methodist Free Church (also known as Flowerpot Chapel) in Redruth, which could seat up to 1600 people. Music was an important part of non-conformist worship and most chapels had pedal harmoniums which were gradually replaced by pipe organs.

Other Christian buildings in Cornwall include several Quaker Meeting Houses, early examples are the ones at Marazion, built in 1688 and Come-to-Good, near Truro, built in 1710. Several Baptists Churches were built during the C19th .There are now over 30 Catholic Churches in Cornwall but most of these were constructed during the 20th century, after emancipation had occurred.

Examples of Church architecture and interiors include:

+ Rood screen at Lanreath - is the best painted rood screen in Cornwall of early 16th century date. Surviving panels restored more than once, but unusually high quality including the Risen Christ and a number of Saints.

+ Font at Lansallos - dates from about 1100 and is from the previous Norman church. One half of a Celtic font was found in a field nearby, which may have been used by St Salwys over eleven hundred years ago. It is now displayed at the east end of the south aisle.

+ Pulpit at Launceston, St Mary Magdalene - is regarded as the best in Cornwall, and is thought to be pre-Reformation. It is painted black but with gold details and red and green ribbed stems.

+ Coffin at Lansallos - a slate coffin slab, now mounted on the south wall, depicts in full Elizabethan costume a Margery Smith, who died in 1579. It is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, signed by the maker Peter Crocker.

+ Stained glass windows at St Neot - the most complete surviving medieval glazing schemes in Britain. Churchwardens’ accounts for 1651-2 suggest that the windows were ultimately saved by being whitewashed by the parishioners. Nineteenth century church restorations often renewed stained glass windows, for instance, those in St Andrew’s Church, Stratton were designed by the famous pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones and built by the William Morris Company.

+ Clerestory at Fowey and Lostwithiel - one of only a handful of Cornish churches which retains a clerestory (row of upper windows) with Fowey Church built c1336 and Lostwithiel mainly built around 1300 but first mentioned in 1220.

+ Exterior facade at Launceston, St Mary Magdalene - famous for its carved granite facade which is unparalleled in England.

+ Spire at Lostwithiel - was built during the C14th and has since been reduced in height.

+ Tower at Probus - was started around 1523 and is the tallest of any parish church in Cornwall at 38.35m.