St Budock stands alone in its own tiny churchtown- more a farm really – in amongst some trees. It is on a hill above Falmouth for which it was the mother church until that town started developing and got illusions of grandeur of its own. Locals continue to fight for a green belt between the two.
From the outside – cue rant about locked churches which have no signs as to where the key may be found or when they are open – everything looks well-cared for and tidy. Eventually, a couple of years later, we discovered merely by rumour that the church was open at 2:15 on Wednesdays.
The tower is a three stage C15 construction with diagonal buttresses which help to make the corners lighter than the usual paired structure.
The porch contains some good detail carved into solid granite while around the corner, a little vestry has been cunningly inserted between the south transept and chancel, sadly in a simple render which destroys the harmony.
A rich mauve paint is much in evidence in contrast to neighbouring Penryn’s red.
Inside, the church has the usual slightly lop-sided feel of one with only one side aisle – here the north – and a south transept. A set of low box-pews helps to give a charming tidiness to the nave.
Overhead, a rather heavy arch-braced roof runs the full length of the church and chancel while the north aisle has retained its plastered barrel-vault.
The east wall of the chancel has been left very simple: there is no plaster and no heavy Victorian reredos to distract the eye.
The church was restored by an un-named Victorian architect, or architects who managed to retain a number of nice features. The font looks like a late C19 copy of a C15 font (the dog is not a fixture). There is a small stoup in a relatively unusual site half way down the south wall and some original but unspectacular C15 bench-ends are displayed in the north aisle.
A donor board, which is inconveniently hidden behind a shelf, promises 20 shillings a year to ‘poor widows and fatherless children’ of Budock for the space of 1000 years from 1733. He also promises 10 shillings a year to the Minister, Churchwardens and Overseers, for preaching a funeral sermon on the feast of St John.
Look out for the hand raised in absolution which appears in several forms in the church. This refers to the legend of St Budock who wished his hand to be displayed thus ‘to forgive all those who he had ex-communicated during his lifetime’.
EH Sedding led the restoration of the rood screen which was again repaired in 2003. This has a number of identifiable painted figures which are as good as those at St Buryan. The upper parts have been excellently blended in so that the joins between the old and new work are hard to find. The high rood door opening is visible leading onto the gallery.
The really fun bit of the church is the brass to the Sir John Killigrew, the builder and first Captain of Pendennis castle. Because of changes to the sanctuary, only his feet and a brass memorial tablet are visible, emerging from under the sanctuary floor.
If the expert is around when you visit – and we were fortunate in this regard – then the central step wheels out on casters and the whole brass is revealed: Sir John (d1567) and his lady, Elizabeth Trewinnard covered over by a very solid piece of slate.
On an adjacent wall his son, also a Sir John Killigrew and his wife, Mary Wolverston from Suffolk, kneel facing each other. One suspects that the colours may have been renewed. (Pevsner refers to this as a ‘fragment’). How, we wondered, did he meet a lady from as far away as Suffolk?
We do not often comment on glass unless it is of the quality of St Neot or of a modern nature. Much of the glass in Cornish churches is the thickly decorated Victorian variety. In Budock, however, there is a series of C20 windows which are really quite acceptable: simple and allowing some external light to penetrate. The Walker window caught our eye.
Outside in the large churchyard are the heads of two wheel-headed crosses and a series of smaller memorials whose nature we could not work out. Did they belong to Quakers or Non-Conformist and what do the initials and dates mean? It would be good to check in a guidebook but guess what … there was none to be had, not even a paddle bat to explain the church to a passing tourist. For its sins, it remains in the amber Hall of Shame.
The last delight, also in the churchyard, is a little C19 slate-hung vestry building which also sports the mauve paint.