Grid reference: SW 71220 14297
St Grade Church, Helston TR12 7LQ
On the flat plateau of the Lizard peninsula, the iconic church of St. Grade stands isolated on higher ground and can be seen for many miles when approaching from the east and from the sea where it serves as a landmark for seafarers. It is sometimes referred to as St. Grada and Holy Cross in reference to a fragment of the holy cross donated by a knight returning from the crusades in recognition of being saved from a storm.
After a two hundred metre walk down the access byway, the first view is of the imposing 14m circa 1400 tower which contains a single bell. The C13 and C14 nave and chancel were rebuilt in 1862 incorporating remains of what had been a larger cruciform church which had fallen into disrepair. Although today’s simpler church, consisting of chancel and nave, with a shallow projection to accommodate the organ, vestry and fireplace, is stylistically early Decorated, the old church dated from the early English period from which remain two relics. The fine grained leucogranite font is a beautiful example of thirteenth century workmanship. On the north wall outside the church is a crude door rebuilt into the wall after the restoration. This would have served as the ‘Devil’s door’ to be opened during baptisms to let evil spirits escape.
On the floor at the east end of the nave, there is an imprint of an enchanting brass, dated 1522, commemorating James Erysey and his wife Margaret, and below them their five sons and five daughters. Originally located in the Erisey chapel in the south transept, it was reset in Delabole stone and relocated when the church was rebuilt. It is one of several memorials in the church to members of the Erisey family who clearly preferred to worship here than at the church of Ruan Major which is closer to their seat at Erisey Barton.
Other features of the rebuilding were the chancel pulpit and lectern which incorporate beautifully polished serpentine from the Poltesco works in Carleon cove.
Particularly attractive are the late Victorian stained glass windows – three in the south aisle (The Good Shepherd, Christ raising the lame, and the Baptism of Christ) and three in the chancel (the Crucifixion and Christ in Majesty with seven angels).