Pendeen church

Pendeen 02The church of St John the Baptist in Pendeen was built in 1851 by local people, encouraged by an active vicar. Although it is strictly speaking outside our time period but we were in the area and so popped in.

The entrance gate, indeed, the whole churchyard is surrounded by an embattled wall which has echoes of Victorian railway architecture. Betjeman referred to it as a ‘toy fort’. It is certainly somewhat bizarre.

Pendeen 01The first thing that struck us about the church was the very tall and steep roof which makes the interior seem very high.

Inside, it is a conventional cruciform shape with simple Early English lancet windows which adds a welcome simplicity to the whole thing, letting in more light than many churches which ‘suffer’ from heavy Victorian glass. Otherwise it is pretty conventional with nothing standing out as particularly exciting.

Pendeen 06One curiosity is the west end where the plasterwork has been removed to expose what look like original walls made of enormous blocks. Given the history, this must be a conceit, designed to suggest some historical connection. The result is strangely mannered.

The charismatic vicar – one Robert Aitken – is buried before the high altar alongside a memorial to him describing  him as dedicated to the ’cause of parochial missions’. This leaves something of an impression that the whole is somehow a shrine to his memory.

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A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall