Menheniot, St Lalluwy & St Antonius

Menheniot, PL14 3QS
Grid reference: SX 288628

Menheniot-interiorSt Lallu occurs in a 10th century list of Cornish saints. In 1426 there was a guild of this saint at Menheniot and the holy well near the church was also dedicated to him. A much restored stained glass figure of Lallu still survives at St Neot and was paid for by the Calway family who held lands in both Menheniot and St Neot.

Menheniot church stands on a raised circular graveyard at the centre of the village where four roads meet. The first known rector Stephen Heym was instituted in 1260 and the present church was consecrated in 1293. The Lords of the Manor of Tregrill were patrons of the living and the tower and spire (a rare feature in Cornwall) may date from the 14th century. Later rectors included career clergy who most probably never visited Menheniot, like William of Wykham, founder of Winchester College and Peter Courtney who became Bishop of Exeter. Courtney gave the right of patronage to Stapleton Hall in Oxford which later became Exeter College Oxford. The college appointed the vicar at Menheniot, usually a fellow of the college, who took the tithes and appointed a curate. Dr John Morman, vicar from 1529-54, was said to be the first priest to teach the Lord’s Prayer and Ten Commandments in English. In the 18th century the vicar of Menheniot was paid a salary of about £60.

The present building is constructed in the Perpendicular style with a central nave and two side aisles built in stone from local quarries. These aisles had been begun by 1426 with a chapel of St Anne adjoining the chancel. By 1554 both aisles had been completed and there were altars to St John the Baptist on the north side and also to St Christopher and St Nicholas.

The six bells in the tower have been recast a number of times. There was a penal bond regarding the re-casting of the great bell in 1631 (CRO/DDP/144/6/1) and there is a reference to the bells in 1637 (CRO/DDP/144/5/3/14). In 1878 Dunkin listed five bells of which four were dated 1739 and the fifth 1842. In 1883/4, one bell was re-cast, one new bell added, and all six bells had new fittings, in memory of Canon Martin, late vicar (Truro Kalendar) and again in 1932.

The interior of the building as it is now was partly the work of James Piers St.Aubyn, an architect who restored many Cornish Churches. The St Aubyn enlargement, extension to the chancel, repairs to the walls and interior reordering took place in 1866, however in 1915, Fellowes Prynne restored the chancel and porch roofs, installed new choir stalls, parclose screen, carved panelling in the chancel and a carved oak font cover (Faculty granted on 6th August 1915). Pews were removed at various times during the 20th century – in 1959, 1985, 1986 and in the early years of the 21st century. The interior plaster was removed in 1986, when it was intended that the walls would be lime-washed after they had dried out. The lime-washing was never undertaken. The windows are in the main of late 18th and early 20th Century as memorials to local people and include the remarkable engraved glass window on the south side of the baptistry, installed in 1998. This is a significant and beautiful work by the nationally renowned artist, David Peace]

Menheniot is fortunate in that the records have survived almost completely from about 1450; all of the records except the Manorial record are owned by the Vicar and Churchwardens of the Parish and are in the care of the County Records Office.

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