Warleggan, St Bartholomew’s
St Bartholomew’s, Warleggan
Postcode PL30 4HB
OS Map Ref. SX 15635 69096
Warleggan, ‘loneliest village on Bodmin Moor’ (Pevsner) has had a small, granite church for about 800 years. Although the interior has been radically restored, the rugged exterior, especially the north wall with its wide buttress and small thirteenth century lancet window, reveals the age of the church. An early sixteenth century extension provided an arcade of five bays with granite piers typical of moorland churches – and doubled the size of the church. The capitals have simple, rather worn, decorations, but one is still recognisable as a bear’s head. The Bere / Beare family were local mine owners and landowners; and may well have helped finance the south aisle extension The slate tombstone to the right of the altar is that of Richard Bere (d.1618 ).
The most striking feature of the interior is the 1664 plaster Royal Arms on the north wall, with its original seventeenth century strapwork, an acknowledgement of Cornish support for the Royalist cause in the Civil War.
Outside, the medieval wheel-headed wayside cross was moved to the church from Carburrow. It probably marked the church path from Temple to Warleggan, before becoming a gatepost.
The early church had a spire according to Henderson, until it was struck by lightning on March 7th 1818. Details of the disaster were recorded by a local writer:
“The lofty tow’r came quickly tumbling down
Its south-east corner from the top to ground…
So that ’twill cost one thousand pounds or more
To raise the shattered structure as before.”
Repair plans only show a three-stage tower (like Cardinham) being reduced to the present two stages. Two out of the three bells were sold to fund repairs.
Over the past hundred years the incumbency of the Revd. Densham (1931- 1953) has fascinated tourists and writers. He quarrelled with his P.C.C., painted the church in lurid colours and alienated his congregation. But Betjeman visited more than once and some parishioners found him kindly and generous if they were needy or ill.
However, Daphne du Maurier’s exaggerations in “Vanishing Cornwall” have brought us world-wide publicity and many visitors! There have been two films based on his ministry, one starring John Gielgud and one, more recently, with Edward Woodward.
In 2008 with a generous legacy and several grants (including £4000 CHCT) we re roofed the nave and chancel; in 2018, with further grants the tower has been restored and the bell-chamber repaired.