Poughill church

poughill-16The village of Poughill (‘Pofill’) is full of small thatched houses which gives it a curiously un-Cornish air. In the middle sits the church of St Olaf. No one seems sure why Olave, the King of Norway, should be honoured here: another un-Cornish aspect.

The church does not look large from the outside with only three large windows on the south side.

The first impression is of a fine wooden door with ironwork which dates from the C15 or C16. Against a wall in the bell ringing chamber beneath the tower, is an external gate of similar quality.

poughill-02Once inside, the church appears much larger, helped by the tall arcades of the north and south aisle. These do not match with granite on the south side and polyphant stone on the north.

The C15 wagon roofs seem to have survived several C19 restorations.

Like many churches in the area, the main attraction is a group of original bench-ends which have been artfully re-worked to fit the ends of C19 pews, the usual instruments of the Passion being the main decoration.

poughill-08There are two large wall paintings, both of St Christopher. These were ‘restored’ and repainted in 1894 and it is hard to see that any original material survived. This makes them look curiously out of place.

Look out for:

  • The C14 table top font (the card guide mentions a Norman font in the churchyard, now used as a plant pot but we could not find this)
  • The tablet to Sir Goldsworthy Gurney (d1875) who had a hand in establishing a single time zone for the country
  • The granite slab in the churchyard which covers the remains of some early Christian bones found when a nearby cliff collapsed

St Olaf’s is strongly evangelical and you will see that a projection screen hangs from the roof roughly on the line of the original rood screen. The Minister’s desk, constructed with a frontage of old bench ends, faces the congregation rather than the more usual north.

A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall