Mevagissey church

Mevagissey 03

St Peter’s stands on the hill above the cove, a lung-bursting walk and surprisingly far from the centre of the village which is inhabited by Non-Conformists.

Founded in the C13, it is not large and seems sunken into the ground, no doubt surrounded by the bodies of generations of fishermen.

The church is not large and seems to have been very ruinous in the mid C19 – ‘in bad repair, dirty and neglected’ – leading to the need for a major restoration by the indominitable JP St Aubyn in 1887-8. He found the tower almost derelict and added a small bell-chamber and the distinctly un-Cornish saddle-back roof. Why, we wondered, when there are so many other alternatives: even St John with its tiny tower does it better.

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Mevagissey: the nave

His tidying up was pretty comprehensive but left a light and spacious church.

It has the usual lop-sided feel of some Cornish churches with a nave and one aisle (north) and a massive south transept, the north transept having been swept away in the past.

There are delights throughout the church, ranging from the very clean Norman font to the piscina (oddly on the wall of the south aisle) and stoup and some fine slate (Lewis Dart d1632) and plaster (Otwell and Mary Hill d1617) monuments.

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Mevagissey: the Otwell monument

The font was moved in the C20 and the floor was finished with a nice design inspired by Meva’s fishing heritage.

It is worth looking westwards at the distinctly crooked tower arch which St Aubyn thankfully did not try and correct.

Outside, we amused ourselves with reading the inscription on a gravestone from 1760. Emmeline, wife of Robert Johns died aged 44:
‘Our mother’s gone and we are left
The loss of her to mourn
But may we meet with her above
In heaven before God’s throne.

A wife so dear, a mother kind
Is now to earthly dust consigned
We trust her soul has wing’d its flight
To realms of everlasting light.’

An interesting scansion and rhyme, not least the attempt to link ‘mourn’ and ‘throne’, but ‘trust’ used with confidence.

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A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall