St Carantoc stands on the edge of the rather smart village of Crantock which boasts several thatched cottages and at least two pubs, thoughtfully situated right outside the church lychgate. But, turning to the subject in hand, the lychgate itself gives you a hint of what is to come for there are pseudo-gothic carved letters above the entrance.
The church itself appears an odd shape from the outside with a raised chancel and two aisles at the east end but none for the nave. The tower and chancel are rendered which is also unusual and destroys the customary rugged feel of a Cornish church exterior.
Inside, the smell of the church, the stations of the cross on the walls and the images of the BVM provide an indication of the churchmanship. The interior is dark, made darker still by the narrowness of the unaisled nave and late Victorian/Edwardian woodwork.
A fully-gilded rood stretching right across the three aisles, just in front of the position of the original. Some truncated pilasters hint at the foundations of a former central tower.
Beyond, the chancel is very much a monastic space with a sense that lay people would not be welcome. The carving of the choir pews is elaborate and clearly C19 which is stark contrast to the simplicity of the nave.
All of this echoes the history of what was once a collegiate church. The re-building was the work of E H Sedding in 1889-1901.
It all feels rather oppressive, whatever its artistic merits, and hints at many of the things that the Methodists were reacting to: a separation of the people from ‘the mysteries’ that took place at the east end of the church.
Look out for:
- The fragments of medieval glass
- The Norman – Bodmin style – font
- The fish weathervane
Around the north side of the church, under a lean-to roof, are the village stocks, last used in 1810 by someone whose crimes included ‘being the son of a smuggler’ and armed robbery. He managed to escape from them and, watched by some kindly neighbours who did not interfere – it is Cornwall and ‘justice’ is not the King’s justice – he made good his escape, never to be seen again.