Mawnan church

mawnan-15St Maunanus (and St Stephen) stands amongst trees some way from the modern village of Mawnan Smith, its small tower a familiar landmark to sailors.

History and Victorian architects have not been kind to it but its interior has a pleasing naturalness and openness, nonetheless.

In the early C19 the church suffered its first ‘restoration’ described in the guide book as ‘drastic’. This extended the north aisle was extended westwards, replacing a former north porch (there is no evidence of this in the stonework).

mawnan-02There was another restoration by JP St Aubyn in 1880. He raised the chancel (the evidence can be seen in the stonework on the outside of the east end) and rebuilt the south aisle. From the outside, the modern chancel roof can be seen to be higher than that of the nave. St Aubyn’s characteristic boot-scraper welcomes you at the north door.

St Aubyn’s work must have swept away any chancel arch for the modern church that pleasing harmony between the nave and chancel which is so often destroyed by the insertion of a rood screen or visually-arresting arch. The wind-braced roof beams are very obviously C19.

The central lighting in the nave is by simple wooden candelabra. Several hundred are lit at Christmastide.

mawnan-05There are medieval remnants, though. A charming lancet window in the chancel suggests that this wall is C13 in origin. Close by is a C13 piscina with terminal heads.

The font is granite and probably from the C15.

Part of the rood screen survives as the back of a bench at the west end of the north aisle. This has painted images of Sts Peter, Andrew, James and John. A small pillar almsbox stands close by.

mawnan-11A sympathetic insertion of a bell-ringing gallery in the tower and first section of the arcade was completed in the early C21.

One final curiosity is a window to St John Chrysostom which features an image of Santa Sophia in Istanbul, now a mosque.

Outside, close by the lych gate, stands a small bier house, an unusual addition, which looks as though it has medieval origins but was tidied up in the C19. This has now been converted into a small toilet.

A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall