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.
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.
We had a most interesting afternoon with the friends when we visited St Mary Magdalenes and St Cuthbert Mayne in Launceston concluding with a fascinating visit to Trecarrel Chapel and everyone enjoyed tea in the beautiful grounds.