St Endellion

The Collegiate Church of St Endellion
St Endellion
Port Isaac
Cornwall PL29 3TP

OS Grid Ref: SW997786


St Endellion is located inland from the picturesque granite cliffs of North Cornwall between Port Isaac and the Camel Estuary. It is named after Saint Endelienta, one of the children of King Brychan named in the 12th century life of St Nectan of Hartland, Devon. She appears with her martyr’s palm, cow and well on a late 16th century rosary bead added to the famous Langdale Rosary now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her life was recorded by local gentleman Nicholas Roscarrock at this time. The first recorded mention dates to 1260 but the current church, which stands on the site of an earlier church, is a Grade 1 listed building of the 15th and 16th centuries constructed of granite moor stone in Perpendicular style except for the tower which is said to be built of granite from Lundy Island.


photograph by Roy Reed

The splendid wooden barrel roof with its rafters reveals fine carving on the principals. The rafters have carved angels at their feet. The holy water stoup by the south door and the shrine of St Endelienta are wonderful examples of medieval craftsmanship carved in catacleuse stone. Also there is a good mix of 16th and 20th century carved pews and floor slabs. The font is Norman fashioned from a single block of stone.

In the Ringing Chamber on the ground floor of the Tower is the Georgian Ringers’ Rhyme depicting ringers in shirts and breeches. The rhyme shows the standards expected of bell ringers but the last four lines were used by Sir John Betjeman – who worshipped regularly at St Endellion – when, as poet laureate, he wrote a poem to celebrate the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.


The sanctuary, lit by the huge east window, is plain and unadorned. A simple slate memorial to Sir John Betjeman is on the wall to the left with a rather colourful angel to his memory above it. Above the altar hangs a silver crucifix dedicated in 2000.

The organ was installed in 2001 and is based on early 18th century English organs with the addition of a Swell organ and pedals to cater for modern requirements. The case is of solid English oak and St Endelienta’s cow can be seen in the pipe shades of the central tower.

St Endellion has the unique distinction of maintaining its collegiate status – through the reforms of the 16th century and the Dean & Chapter Act of 1840 – continuing to appoint Prebendaries. In 1929 the college was re-incorporated, reaffirming a line that stretches back unbroken for more than 700 years. In 2012 it was further extended by the Bishop of Truro who increased the number of clerical Prebendaries and allowed the appointment of Lay Prebendaries. The St Endellion Easter and Summer Music Festivals hold a longstanding international reputation.


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