Marhamchurch church


St Marwenne is visible from some way off as it stands on the crest of a hill at the centre of its village with its broad main street. The sea can be spotted two miles away.

Although apparently nothing special, the church has a gentle and appealing harmony.

The large south transept is interesting. A slightly disjointed shape is visible with the current structure having a very obvious join onto a smaller predecessor.

The main door has the charming addition of a sanctuary knocker, now covered behind glass lest any modern day culprit should seek sanctuary.

Marhamchurch: the nave

Inside, the nave has an elegant chequerboard pattern of end-grain slate. The roof retains its original wagon roof sadly rather over-restored.

There is no south aisle and the chancel is narrower than the nave on the south side which provided sufficient space for a small window to be inserted over the pulpit which is well-positioned. Perhaps this was put here by EH Sedding who worked on the church.

The pulpit itself is C17 but may incorporate some earlier carving. The window has an elegant curtain to shine light on the preacher’s head.

Marhamchurch: the Magdalene window

There are two particular curiosities. The first is a window high up on the west wall of the north aisle. This was placed here so that an anchorite, Cecilia, could view the mass being celebrated in the early C15. Although now blocked up, it still watches over the church. Its shadow can be seen on the outside. It must have taken considerable faith to allow oneself to be bricked up in a cell for the rest of one’s life.

The other curiosity is a modern window which features a figure I take by the lilies to be the BVM or, by the M to be the Magdalene. In style it is ‘late Arts and Crafts’ with the main figure arrestingly lifelike, as though it was an image of a specific person, and wearing a mob cap. Now why would the St Mary or the Magdalene be portrayed in a mob cap?

Also look out for:

  • The few C15 bench ends with the symbols of the Passion
  • The medieval cresset stone
  • The large C17 plaster royal coat of arms
  • The font which is probably a C19 one designed to look like a C15 one



A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall