Cornwall Churches: Churches You Need To See

James

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James

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Amidst breathtaking landscapes and the lull of crashing waves lies a tapestry of ancient wonders – Cornwall’s churches.

Listen to the whispers of history, admire stained-glass masterpieces, and feel the presence of saints. Immerse yourself in the subtropical gardens of St. Winwaloe Church, or discover the enchanting legends attached to St. Enodoc Church. Unravel the stories, and embark on an extraordinary journey. 

Cornwall’s Finest Churches For An Unforgettable Sacred Journey

1. Truro Cathedral

Like a regal guardian, the Truro Cathedral stands tall, dominating the skyline with its majestic spires.

Built in the 19th century by the esteemed architect John Loughborough Pearson, it is Cornwall’s cathedral, a symbol of faith and architectural splendour. It stands as a testament to Gothic Revival architecture. Built to replace an existing church, its construction aimed to establish Truro as the centre of the newly-formed Diocese of Truro. The soaring bell tower of the cathedral, with twelve bells, echoes with tales of devotion and resilience.

2. St. Mary Magdalene

Nestled in the idyllic town of Launceston, this lovely church captures the essence of tranquillity. Constructed by the local community during the medieval era, its Norman front whispers secrets from centuries ago. This church used to serve as a spiritual haven and communal gathering place. The remarkable architecture of the church with stained glass windows and serene atmosphere make it a cherished gem amongst Cornwall’s churches.

3. St. Petroc’s Church

With its roots dating back to the Norman period, the church of St. Petroc holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Legend has it that St. Petroc himself founded this sanctuary for spiritual seekers. The Celtic cross that graces the grounds whispers tales of ancient devotion. Being 151 feet long and 65 feet wide, it is the largest parish church in Cornwall.

4. St. George

Step into St. George’s, a 15th-century masterpiece, and explore this realm of wonder. Constructed by renowned builders, this architectural gem was commissioned by local nobility to serve as a place of worship. Marvel at the intricately carved wooden pews and lose yourself in the stories told by its stunning stained-glass windows, each a masterpiece in its own right. 

5. St. Hilary

Hidden away in the serene village bearing the same name, St. Hilary’s is a testament to the enduring spirit of faith.

Dedicated to St. Hilary of Poitiers, this church was erected to serve as a place of worship and community gathering. Legend has it that hidden tunnels connect the church to nearby St. Michael’s Mount, adding intrigue to its allure. Moreover, tales of Celtic saints can be deciphered from the numerous Celtic paintings that adorn the church.

6. St. Winwaloe

Standing proudly on the windswept cliffs, St. Winwaloe’s Church overlooks the vast expanse of the ocean. Founded by St. Winwaloe, a 5th-century Breton saint, this remote sanctuary tells tales of devotion and dedication. Legends whisper of a hidden treasure buried beneath its ancient stone floors, enticing seekers from afar.

7. St. Germans Priory

Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Cornwall stands the magnificent St. Germans Priory, an enchanting jewel among the historic churches of Cornwall. Its current building, a mesmerising blend of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, exudes an irresistible charm.

A symphony of stained-glass windows illuminates the ancient walls, casting ethereal hues upon the polished stone floor. According to rumours, there’s a ghostly monk wandering the moonlit graveyard and a hidden tunnel that stretches beneath the church, concealing untold stories!

8. St. Clement

In the past, St. Clement used to be a sizable parish that covered the areas of present-day Truro, referred to as Moresk. Nowadays, the church is situated in a peaceful village on a hill, slightly away from the Tresillian River. Its main church boasts stunning stained-glass windows that portray scenes from Cornwall’s rich history. Steeped in legend, it is believed that the church was erected to honour St. Clement, the patron saint of mariners.

9. St. Symphorian’s Church

Perched on the edge of a picturesque village, St. Symphorian’s church exudes a sense of serenity. This notable landmark is revered for its intricate stone carvings and stunning stained glass windows.

The responsibility of the 1847 church restoration fell upon Samuel Trist, who was the third member of his family to serve as the vicar. Folklore speaks of a phantom monk roaming its corridors, guarding the secrets of forgotten civilisations. Enter and immerse yourself in an extraordinary tapestry of history and enigma birthed by this church.

10. St. Senara’s Church

In the heart of Zennor village, St. Senara’s Church unveils stories of love and sacrifice. It is said that Senara was a Breton princess named Asenora. Built by Celtic Christians, its Norman front and ancient stone walls echo the legends of a local man and a mermaid disguised as a mysterious rich lady. Their forbidden romance transcends time and leaves an indelible mark on the history of the village.

11. St. Piran’s Oratory

Legends speak of St Piran, a patron saint who floated across seas on a millstone from his homeland in Ireland. He is believed to have constructed the oratory when he established his residence in Perranporth, a coastal town in Cornwall that is named after him.

Discover the ruins of the ancient chapel in Perranporth, where the saint preached and performed miracles. You might uncover hidden treasures from Cornwall’s distant past as you wander amidst the sand dunes.

12. St. Mawgan

A haven of tranquillity built by Benedictine monks, St. Mawgan’s Church is nestled amidst the lush embrace of a subtropical garden in Meneage. Delight in the vibrant colours and exotic fragrances that fill the air as you explore the ancient churchyard.

The remnants of a canal of this church stretch from Mawgan Porth to Whitewater, marking the inland edge of the parish. This particular waterway was constructed by John Edyvean from St. Columb after receiving authorisation through an Act of Parliament in 1773.

Legend has it that a mystical lantern appears in the belfry during times of great peril, guiding lost souls to safety.

13. St. Enodoc

Immerse yourself in the timeless allure of St. Enodoc’s Church, perched amongst the rolling sand dunes of Daymer Bay, Trebetherick. Here lies the final resting place of Sir John Betjeman, poet laureate and fervent admirer of Cornwall’s beauty. Lose yourself in the windswept charm of this hidden gem, where history and nature intertwine.

14. St. Cuby

Tucked away in the heart of the Roseland peninsula in Tregony, St. Cuby’s Church is a testament to the enduring spirit of worship. Wander through its ancient graveyard, adorned with weathered Celtic crosses, and lose yourself in the stories etched upon each stone. Legend speaks of miraculous healings attached to this church. The bell tower of the church, rising proudly against the skyline, calls the faithful to gather in joyous celebration.

15. St. Ia’s Parish Church

St. Ives boasts this charming church that was built to honour St. Ia, an Irish missionary who arrived in Cornwall during the 5th century. Legends suggest that she was martyred on the nearby cliffs.

Explore its peaceful gardens and step inside to admire the delicate stained-glass windows that bathe the interior with a kaleidoscope of colours. With the sea as its backdrop, this lovely church is a testament to its enduring power of faith.

16. St. Keverne

A beacon of worship in the heart of a bustling village with the same name, St. Keverne’s Church stands as a testament to Cornwall’s spiritual heritage. It’s rumoured to have been built to commemorate St. Keverne, a local saint. Marvel at the intricate carvings adorning its exterior and venture inside to discover its remarkable medieval features.

17. St Mary’s Church

Standing proudly in the heart of Church Cove, St. Mary’s Church boasts a captivating presence. This architectural marvel stands as a testament to the devotion and craftsmanship of local villagers. According to legends, smugglers used to seek sanctuary within these hallowed walls. Today, visitors marvel at its serene location, captivating architecture, and the rich heritage it embodies among the many esteemed churches in Cornwall.

18. St. Neot

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Bodmin Moor, St. Neot Church stands as a beacon of serenity. Legend has it that the church was founded by the Welsh saint, St. Neot himself, who sought solace in this tranquil corner of Cornwall.

Moreover, a holy well within the churchyard is believed to possess healing powers. When you visit, take your time to marvel at the awe-inspiring stained-glass windows that illuminate the spirits of centuries gone by.

19. St. David’s Church

Perched atop a rugged cliff overlooking the sparkling azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the church of St. David serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of Cornwall. This hidden gem offers respite for weary souls. Its striking features include an exquisite rose window, intricate stone carvings, and a majestic spire. Today, St. David’s Church remains a cherished landmark among the numerous historic churches in Cornwall.

20. St Anthony’s Church

Tucked away in the quaint village of St. Anthony, this humble church unveils its rustic charm and timeless beauty. Discover a sturdy granite exterior and exquisite architectural elements, such as Gothic windows, as you venture inside. From the quaint pews to the delicate stained glass, every corner of St. Anthony’s church is steeped in legends of buried treasure and ghostly apparitions.

21. St. Nonna’s Church

According to legend, this Altarnun church, dedicated to St. Nonna, holds a special place in Cornwall’s history. It is said that St. Nonna, a virtuous and devout mother, sought refuge within these hallowed walls during a tempestuous storm. This picturesque church, with its graceful spire and elegant arches, stands as a testament to her unwavering faith and the endurance of the human spirit.

22. St. Juliot

Poised on the windswept cliffs of North Cornwall, the church of St. Juliot showcases a carved bench-end depicting St. Juliot’s martyrdom. It was here that the famous novelist Thomas Hardy found inspiration for his timeless tale, ‘A Pair of Blue Eyes.’ Immerse yourself in the ethereal atmosphere as you tread the same path as Hardy, who sought solace in the quiet nooks of this ancient sanctuary.

23. St. Levan

Nestled amidst the rugged beauty of the Roseland peninsula, St. Levan’s Church stands as a testament to the enduring presence of faith. This idyllic haven, with its charming thatched roof and stunning interior, offers a peaceful retreat for weary souls.

James Arthur Reeve constructed the church with the financial support of Sir Charles Brune Graves-Swale, second Baronet, during the years 1884 and 1885. On 22nd October 1885, Bishop John Wilkinson of Truro consecrated the church.

Let the ancient stones and timeworn pews embrace you as you discover the legends of the Holy Grail being hidden in the vicinity of this church.

24. John Wesley Chapel

In the heart of bustling Falmouth, amidst the vibrant streets and bustling harbour, lies the John Wesley Chapel, a testament to the influential Methodist movement. Here, the echoes of John Wesley’s sermons still resonate, inspiring generations with his message of hope and salvation. Reflect upon the spiritual heritage that has shaped Cornwall today as you immerse yourself in the hallowed atmosphere of this chapel.

Conclusion

As the sun bids farewell to the ancient hills of Cornwall, one cannot help but be captivated by the melodic sagas of Cornwall churches.

These Cornish churches, like beacons of faith, beckon travellers with open arms inviting them to traverse the sacred thresholds of antiquity. Each step echoes with the resonance of countless prayers, harmonising with the gentle whispers of stained-glass windows and the symphony of hallowed arches. These current buildings, adorned with ornate carvings and steeped in tales untold, unfold a narrative of devotion and wonder.

Embracing both past and present, these sanctuaries entwine history and spirituality, leaving visitors entrapped in a mesmerising dance of awe and reverence. So, come and lose yourself in the enchanting embrace of Cornwall’s ethereal and timeless churches.

About The Author


James

Reviewed by

James

James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.