St. Corantyn, Cury
Cury, Helston, TR12 7BW
Grid ref SW67763 21280
St Corantyn church is an ancient Grade 1 listed church situated at the west end of the village of Cury, five miles south west of Helston, on the Lizard Peninsular. This small village, population approximately 350, is in a very exposed position some 200ft (60mtrs) above sea level and within one mile of the coast at Mounts Bay flanked by a valley on each side; the left running into Poldhu Cove (made famous by Marconi) and the right to Gunwalloe Cove, popular for its ‘church on the beach’.
Cury church is dedicated to St. Corantyn, a Breton saint who became the first bishop of Cornouaille in Brittany. First mentioned in the late 9th century, his relics are at his cathedral in Quimper, Brittany. For most of its history Cury was a chapelry of Breage and there is a painting of Corantyn in the mother church.
The graveyard is almost circular in shape (latterly intersected on the north by the roadway) which may suggest 10th century origins, perhaps a reused round or Romano-British settlement site like St Buryan. An ancient and unusual stone cross, unearthed in the mid nineteenth century, stands 9ft in height by the south entrance gate.
The church building here consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, south transept and west tower and is mostly late medieval. Norman origins are evidenced by the very fine and complete carved stone doorway depicting the five interlocking rings of ’eternal life’ on the tympanum, chevron and pellet enrichments to the nook shafts and jambs. The north aisle has an exceptionally fine north east window with Tudor roses carved above (similar to ones at Sithney and Padstow) and a matching south aisle was planned and begun c1543 (the presence of two rood stairs where only one was needed and the so-called hagioscope or passage squint are suggestive).
A major restoration of Cury Church was completed between 1872 to 1874 instigated by the Rev. Alfred Hayman Cummins (incumbent) at that time which included re roofing the nave using hammer beams throughout, restoring the wagon roof and fitting new carved bosses to the north aisle. Removing the sagging north wall and re building with new windows and enlarging the north doorway. It was Cummins who discovered the two rood screen stairways previously walled in, one north and one south, both were full of broken ornamentation, rubble and human bones including two complete skeletons. The pulpit, pitch pine pews, altar rail and candle ring all typically Victorian were installed at this time. The roof was repaired in 2001 and a major bells project was completed in 2008 after £45,000 was raised by two members of the congregation.