Mullion, St Mellanus Church

Grid Ref SW680190

Churchtown, Mullion, Helston TR12 7HQ

St Mellanus Church is an ancient Grade 1 listed church situated in the centre of Mullion Village, on the Lizard Peninsula.

Mullion Church is dedicated to St Mellanus who was bishop at Rennes (Capital of Brittany) and died in the mid-sixth century. He is also honoured in Brittany, and at St Mellion in Cornwall and St Mellons in Wales according to Nicholas Orme’s The Saints of Cornwall (2000).

The church is thought to be no older than the 13th century and this is the date of the font. The north and south aisles are later additions and the north door has a round arch, like a Norman arch, but in this case dating from the 16th

The Tower was reputedly erected by Robert Luddra (or Luddre) about 1500, but Luddra only became vicar in 1512. The variegated exterior appearance of the tower is due to it being built of granite and serpentine. Mullion has a peal ring of six bells.


Luddra’s name is also associated with the rebuilding of the chancel, where some medieval faces survive in the east window (these appear more opaque and corroded when viewed from outside).  This rebuilding must have taken place between 1512 and Luddra’s death c.1548, after the rood screen was built.  Luddra was also a canon of Glasney according to Thurstan Peter’s history of the college, but not, the provost, as sometimes stated.


Above the north door of the church door is a Royal Coat of Arms said to have been bestowed by Charles II.


On the South door there is a small hole at the bottom so called ‘Dog Door’ to allow the farmers’ sheep dogs to leave.


The floor of the church is of an unusual substance, lime ash.


The ancient Rood Screen erected in the 15th or early 16th century was badly mutilated at the Reformation and was later almost totally destroyed. Only the portion below the transom across the chancel was remaining and the whole Rood Screen has now been restored.


The principal beauty of the church is the old oak seats, traditionally supposed to have been carved from timber from the ancient forest now Goonhilly Downs, but as whole oak trees were needed another source is more likely (Bodmin benches were made from wood imported from Wales). On the front of the east-end pews of the nave there are beautifully represented the symbols of the Passion. Other pews include representations of the crucifixion, and Renaissance figures fancifully interpreted as Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate and many others. There is now available a booklet ‘Tour of the Bench Ends’ to guide the visitor around the church and understand the meanings behind the carvings.bench-ends-c


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