There can be few days better to view Creed church than on a sunny spring afternoon when the churchyard is knee deep in grass and the bluebells are making their last efforts to delight our eyes. Situated on a hillside above the infant river Fal, the church is a complete delight and a case-study in how restoration can be handled sensitively.
St Creda is the church for the parish of Grampound with Creed. It stands alone but for a few houses a mile out of Grampound itself. Pevsner refers to the church as ‘St Andrew’ which is apparently a common mistake influenced by a carving of a saltire in the porch.
The porch is the first joy. It has an unusual carved stone ceiling with some ‘badly’ carved heads which have been thoughtfully given some hair by a nesting bird. ‘Badly’ seems so harsh for what are simple naive sculptures.
Inside, the church is light and airy, much helped by having clear glass in its large windows and being painted white throughout. Close inspection shows fragments of medieval glass thoughtfully inserted into some of the lights which adds to the sense of adventure and discovery.
The continuous wagon roof – that in the south aisle being original – gives a sense of harmony to the whole. Pictures at the west end show just how ruinous the church had been even as recently as 1903, after a previous C19 restoration.
Each small element shows thought and does not seek to impose on the whole. Part of the rood screen has been re-purposed as the fascia for the reader’s desk. A free-standing piscina has been artfully incorporated into the wall of the north transept, rather hidden away behind the organ. A new stair and store have been created at the base of the tower. Various memorials have been elegantly interpreted including one large C16 slate one to Thomas Denys.
Outside, our eye was drawn to the small carving of St Creda, high above the southwest window, looking out over the valley of the Fal, and to the miniature flying buttress added to support the south wall.
A small block with outside stair stands at the south east side of the churchyard and bears a sign saying ‘Toilet’ (it is not). This looks like a small church house but is unexplained in the guidebooks.
St Creda has no pretensions and is probably remote enough to struggle to gain a congregation but it has many of the elements of a sincere and memorable small Cornish church.