Simon Jenkins gives St Breaca one star for its wall paintings which seems a fair assessment. It is a large church which goes in for battlements. There are some on the tower, porch and transepts: even the boiler chimney has a couple.
The church was almost completely rebuilt in the C15 with the porch and the south transept being added, complete with battlements. The three-stage tower is tall and has pinnacles supported by angels and surrounded by large gargoyles.
The interior is light and airy thanks to the two side aisles and large C16 windows. It has a rather heavy C19 rood screen, installed after the 1890 restoration – which runs the width of the church, tying the nave and aisles together but shutting off the chancel. In the gloom is a very heavy and dark reredos which shuts out any light from the east window.
The wall paintings are probably C15. The largest – of St Christopher and the ‘Christ of the trades’ are on the north wall. St Christopher is easy to spot but there is much discussion about the other image: is it Christ of the trades or a warning to tradesmen not to do work on the sabbath?
St Christopher has a rather charming mermaid at his feet, holding a mirror and large fish.
The other paintings, on both the north and south walls, are harder to work out and consist of a king and various bishops or saints.
Look out for:
- The C3 Roman inscribed stone referring to Marcus Cassilianus Posthumus
- The lovely C14 crucifixion over the Lady chapel altar
- The wooden panelled roof of the north transept
- The three helmets surmounted with dolphins in the Godolphin chapel
- The unusual locked cabinet in the south aisle ‘The names in the book of life’
- The rather decayed wheel-headed cross in the churchyard