Landrake, St Erney

Grid ref SX3759
Landrake, Plymouth, PL12 5ER

St-ErneysmallSt Erney was already a chapelry of Landrake when first mentioned in 1269. It is thus comparable in status to St Enodoc and St Michael Porthilly, the two chapelries of St Minver. The mother church of Landrake (and hence St Erney) were then part of the lands of St German’s priory.

The font is early Norman, and pre-dates Landrake’s. This and the oval churchyard might suggest that St Erney is the earlier site. Certainly, by the 13th century St Erney folk were able to baptise their children here, though they probably had to attend Landrake church on major feast days.

The patron saint of this church was St Terney, who may also have been patron of North Hill church, where there was a popular holy well. St Erney’s holy well could have been at Markwell, the site of another lower status medieval chapel. It is possible that Terney was a Breton saint originally, like some other South-East Cornwall patron saints.

The original plan of this church was simply a chancel and nave. The two-stage tower was added perhaps c.1400 and the medieval treble bell it housed bears an invocation to the Virgin in Old English letters. It was made by Robert Norton, a well-known Exeter bell founder, of this time. The second bell is dated 1671, the tenor is plain. A south aisle was probably added to the church in the early 16th century.

The altar there had its own a chalice and paten weighing 10 and a half ounces. Aisle piers are of classic Cornish pattern -attached shafts with hollow chamfers between. These are crowned with a set of four capitals with some attempt at ornamentation and the whole ensemble is cut from a single block of granite. There was a substantial restoration in 1872 which included re-roofing and rebuilding the north and south porches. Previous to this there was only a service here on the first Sunday in the month, the rest being at Landrake. The vicarage house was sited in both parishes with a stream running under it. The window to the west of the tower is probably 19th century set in the opening of a formerly larger window with a rough segmental head and inposts remaining. The squat tower has an embattled parapet with pre-1872 granite obelisk pinnacles and hefty buttresses. On the north wall of the nave is a funeral hatchment with coat of arms commemorating Richard Blake who died in 1770. The Lord’s Prayer and Creed, now in the tower, were obtained in 1718 at a cost of £2 10 0 and an extra 1/6 for “bringing it in”. There is an 18th century sanctuary chair in the chancel. The pews are 19th century. There are also monuments to the Blake, Geake, Steed and Rawe families and a reredos in memory of Rev Frederick John Behenna vicar 1893 to 1927.

Comments are closed.