We finally penetrated the interior of St Melina on the third attempt and what a delight it is. For once we argue with Simon Jenkins for being ungenerous rather than the reverse. One star seems harsh even if the interior has experienced ‘thoughtful embellishment’ in the C20.
The church tour guide says ‘the moment the door is opened … the sense of smell is pleasantly alerted; for Mullion … smells of good polish, a mixture of beeswax and linseed which … speaks of years of attention and affection …’ It still does.
The outstanding feature is the series of benches and bench ends which, although not up to those at Altarnun, are nonetheless of great quality featuring the usual assemblage of the instruments of the Passion accompanying jesters, dragons and the like. A detailed study is needed to do justice to them.
The church is light but rather dominated by the full width C20 rood screen which has quality but does rather cut the three altars off from the congregation. Simon Jenkins quotes the ‘Arts and Crafts’ rood screen as his justification for the church’s star.
Above is a fine (restored) wagon roof with infill panels.
There are several delights:
- The C13 simple octagonal font
- The ‘dog flap’ in the main door which apparently was a custom in rural areas to allow sheepdogs to come and go at will
- The wall paintings
- The lectern with its Elizabethan panels
- The monument to Robert Priske (d1699) with the usual warnings to those of us left alive to mend our ways
- The small statue of St Mellanus which came from France and which guards the rood screen
- Outside, there is an unusual crucifixion panel over the head of the west window and a churchyard cross on a modern shaft by the south porch
Come Mr Jenkins, another star, perhaps?