We were blessed again with a lovely day for our visit to St Uny and St Erth on Thursday 14th June. We had a warm welcome from John Culver and the Churchwardens Keith and Andy at St Uny. They had kindly arranged for refreshments to be made available in the delightful community room which had previously been the Methodist Chapel for the burial ground. The refurbishment had resulted in a lovely room, filled with local items of interest and which is frequented by both locals and tourists. So good to see a redundant building put to good use. Dr Joanna Mattingley had kindly agreed to talk to us about the history of the Church following a most interesting introduction from John. At our Annual Meeting in 2017 we began our theme of Romanesque church architecture, St Uny Church has a wonderful Norman Arch which was highlighted. There are significant links between St Uny and St Erth and we were well prepared for our next visit. It was a great pleasure to have Michael Swift with us, who specializes in stained glass, and he “talked us through” the very interesting windows at St Uny. We are so fortunate to have such knowledgeable people in our membership that can share things with us and make sure we do not miss anything when visiting these lovely buildings. There are several windows of considerable interest, so well worth a visit if you were unable to join us.
We continued our afternoon at St Erth where we were welcomed by Janice the Churchwarden. Another fascinating Church, sharing the same design for the South Porch as St Uny. There were two beautiful gable windows giving special light within the Chancel. David Scott spoke to us about the Sedding restoration within the Churches, highlighting key features to look out for which were indications of who would have carried out the Victorian Restorations. In the past the Altar had to be approached via a bridge as the Chancel floor had been under water. You will be pleased to know that this is no longer the case! Jo Mattingley shared some of the records of the Wills with us and highlighted the local families and their involvement within the Church from the past. Michael Swift also drew our attention to the wonderful carvings done by the Pinwill sisters. The work of the Pinwill Sisters is most interesting and well worth exploring further. There are many examples of their work in Devon and Cornwall.
The afternoon concluded with a tea enjoyed by all in the adjacent hall, which had been recently refurbished providing an excellent venue.
To coincide with the 70th Birthday of The Prince of Wales, the CHCT was invited to a Reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the work of His Royal Highness’s Patronages and Charities. Simon Coy, Philip Willoughby, Susie Gore and Dolly Scott were nominated to go and enjoyed a marvellous afternoon with perfect garden party weather and the most delicious tea. Along with the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall were the newly married Duke and Duchess of Sussex; a happy afternoon was had by all in the magnificent setting of the Palace gardens.
Our Annual Luncheon was generously sponsored this year by the Nare Hotel and was held on 11th May at Ince Castle thanks to the very kind invitation of Viscount and Viscountess Boyd. Our warmest thanks go to them for so generously hosting the party in this wonderful setting, which lent itself ideally to the occasion and also provided an opportunity for any who wished to explore and enjoy the beautiful garden at its best. The, now legendary, lunch produced by the Committee and helpers, more than lived up to its reputation and was much enjoyed by all.
It takes many people to ensure our Annual Christmas Party is an enjoyable social event as well as a financial success for the CHCT. This year’s Party took place in the beautiful surroundings of Scorrier House. We are truly grateful to Richard and Caroline Williams for again welcoming us into their home. Thanks also to Ally Bolitho, who ‘decked the halls’ with her splendid wreaths to add a festive touch to the surroundings. The Party owes much of its success to Savills for once again sponsoring the Event. Our gratitude also goes to Savills and their staff for so kindly providing support to the Committee throughout the evening. The Events Committee, headed by Susie Gore, generously prepared a delicious assortment of canapés, which were served by an energetic group of young party-goers. Every room was filled to capacity with happy guests until the very end, when they were bid farewell with a mince pie from Father Christmas. Many thanks to everyone who attended and those supporters who couldn’t attend, but generously donated. Thanks to everyone involved, the Party was a great success and raised over £7,000 for the Cornwall Historic Churches Trust.
Savills team with the CHCT Chairman, Caroline Tetley. (l-r) Piers Owen, Anna Sharp, Emma Trelawny, Caroline Tetley, Ben Davies and David Jenkin.
(l-r) Alice Randle and Rosey Fergusson-Taylor of Savills offering champagne to the guests.
Charles and Sue Ferguson.
Gee Ashworth helps her grand-father, John Ashworth, winner of one of the main raffle prizes.
One of the party-goers receives a mince pie from Father Christmas on departure.
At our annual meeting at St Cuby, Tregony, which focussed on the Romanesque period of church architecture in Cornwall, Christine Edwards set the scene by describing the history of Tregony, its Norman castle and port, alongside an earlier church site of St Cuby. This helped to introduce Dr Alex Woodcock who shared with us his immense knowledge on sculpture from this period. He spoke on his years as a stone mason at Exeter cathedral and the difficulties of carving granite (Norman sculptors used softer, easier to carve stone). Then he showed us how the ‘modernist’ appearance of much Romanesque sculpture appealed to mid-20th century sculptors like Henry Moore or Barbara Hepworth, but not to Nicolaus Pevsner. Indeed, the first slide of Alex’s talk showed John Piper’s hand appearing in a photograph of the beast-covered Norman font of St Cuby, Tregony, where Piper’s wife’s job was holding up a white background.
Cornwall has a great deal of Romanesque or Norman-period sculpture and architecture of high quality, and Alex steered us through some of the notable doorways and fonts found throughout Cornwall with tree of life, beasts, interlocking circles and winged heads among the motifs. Among his most interesting discoveries was that the beasts and beakheads found in some North Cornwall and Devon churches, are otherwise only found in Oxfordshire and Yorkshire. Although churches are rarely documented in the Norman period, Alex was able to show patronage links between the Romanesque south doors at Kilkhampton and Morwenstow in Cornwall, and Reading Abbey through Henry I’s illegitimate son Robert of Gloucester. Illegitimacy was a bar to becoming king, but clearly not to cultural engagement with the arts and architecture. Thus Cornish Romanesque architecture, like much else later, can be seen as of national, not just regional, importance.
Alex left us a list of churches throughout the county for us to find fine examples from this period which you can download below.