St Columb Minor church

St Columb Minor 01
St Columb Minor: the four-stage tower

The glory of St Columba is unquestionably the massive four-stage C15 pinnacled granite tower which must surely be one of the county’s largest.

It seems there were two attempts at restoration, one in 1785 and a later one by JD Sedding in 1884. The C19 one tried to impose a high Anglican form by lowering the nave by about 6″ (15cm) and raising the chancel by an equivalent amount. The altar was probably raised even further by placing it on a predella.

Frankly, they could have saved themselves the effort for the difference is marginal.

The walls are not plastered which always gives a rustic or traditional feeling to a church. There has also been no attempt to insert a rood screen which would also have helped to achieve the desired high church feeling.

St Columb Minor 03

The arcading is well-spaced and the result light: a ‘strong C14 feel’ says Pevsner.

Above the head, the nave ceiling has been restored while the south aisle is much lighted and feels more like the traditional wagon roof, complete with some re-used wooden carving.

The South west end is given over to the usual rumpus room/children’s area.

St Columb Minor: C17 monument
St Columb Minor: C17 monument

There are several little gems:

  • The Norman, Bodmin-style, font
  • A ‘Breeches’ Bible, a translation which pre-dates the Authorised version and which carries a typo in Genesis. This is poorly displayed, on a window shelf. It would be helpful if the page with the typo was visible and not some random page from Isaiah
  • Some slate monuments, including one C17 to ‘RE’ which has a charmingly distorted figure (Latin: ‘My death is my life’)
  • A sundial on the porch (Latin: ‘Thus passes the glory of the world’). It was an hour out, even allowing for British summertime

At the risk of carping, the leaflet table had sold out of church guides and church tour guides, both of which were advertised.

A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall