St Keverne church

St Keverne 01
St Keverne

St Keverne stands in the middle of the remote town of the same name, close to the treacherous Manacles rocks. This perhaps explains the first notable feature – the spire and its battlements – for the church is a useful landmark for sailors.

The church has a variety of unusual features which make it difficult to disentangle the chronology. For instance, the two aisles project forward to flank the tower and are clearly in a different stone from the tower.

Inside, the nave and two aisles are wide and the arcading high by Cornish standards, giving the church a spacious feel.

St Keverne 12
St Keverne: the nave

St Keverne was acquired by Beaulieu Abbey in 1258 and this perhaps explains one of the two strange features of the church. The pillars of the arcades are, with one notable exception, multi-coloured with banding in a warm pink stone. This gives the main space a charm of its own.

The walls are mostly unplastered which gives the church an unsophisticated feel. One exception is part of the north aisle where a large but very damaged wall painting of St Christopher can still be seen.

The other major curiosity is the three rood stairs and openings in the north aisle. The most easterly coincides with the line of the existing rood but the other two are very hard to explain. Suggestions include possible an access to the aisle roof or to a central tower but these are unconvincing.

The church was restored in 1893 by E H Sedding.

Other delights are:

  • The carving of the saint over the main door in the porch
  • A few original C15 bench ends worthy of Mullion
  • An elaborate C15 font with carved figures whose carving suggest an earlier date
  • A fine open C15 wagon roof
  • A Jacobean pulpit and two carved angels over the rood beam
  • The monument to the SS Mohegan which was wrecked on the Manacles in 1898 with the loss of 106 lives
  • Outside, on the church wall is a plaque to Thomas Flamank and Michael Joseph of the parish who were executed at Tyburn in 1497 having led a Cornish rebellion

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A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall