Helston church


It is a shame that a town of such granite-built quality as Helston does not have a medieval church. The original foundation, situated on the same site in an ancient lann, became derelict and new money paid for the erection of the mid C18 St Michael’s.   Being so late, it is strictly outside our window of interest but hey.

Rare though a new foundation is from this time, the result is something of an uncomfortable compromise. Its interior is austere and nods at the great barns of the large Methodist chapels that scatter the county.

The two-storey south porch even feels more like the entrance to a grand Georgian building than to a church.

It boasts a gallery at the west, to accommodate a larger congregation. A northern and southern gallery were swept away in a 1970s re-ordering. The result is still large and surely many time larger than is required for today’s congregations.

Helston: the nave

There are few echoes of the past. A brass to Thomas Bougins (d1602) has been framed and hangs in what passes for a north transept – more a side chapel – and a monument or two clearly pre-dates the present church.

A photograph in the side chapel shows the full extent of the church with its two galleries.

Least we appear too damming, in the churchyard are two discoveries. There is a wheel-headed cross which has been appropriated by the Penberthy family for their tomb, and a large monument to Henry Trengrouse who invented the Rocket Apparatus to save lives from wrecked ships.

A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall