St Wenn church

St Wenn

St Wenna is one of those Cornish churches which almost seem to revel in the adjective ‘remote’. There are a couple of other buildings around but otherwise, St Wenn is in the middle of nowhere.

The church is compact with a nave and two aisles, its tower, once of three stories, reduced to two after a collapse in 1825. The result makes the tower feel stocky, the large buttresses unnecessarily robust for the truncated remains.

St Wenn: the nave

Inside, the first impression is of space. The tall arcades allow plenty of light into the central space but it is the lack of wooden pews and utilitarian office chairs that are most striking, especially as there are so few of them.

The church was restored by the indefatigable JP St Aubyn in 1886-9 who installed his characteristic wind-braced roof and boot scrapers. Thankfully, he did not install a new rood screen here as he did in so many other churches, no doubt to satisfy the whims of the local vicar, influenced by the Oxford Movement. So at least this church feels more engaging and democratic.

The font is a lovely C12 Bodmin style font very similar to the ones at St Mawgan in Pydar and St Columb Major.

The reredos is a C19 mosiac affair with the Last Supper and Commandments which did not excite us.

There are no notable monuments but outside is a fine sundial with the punning motto ‘You know now when’ (Wenn). Also, do not miss the exterior view from the west end to see the fine west door at the base of its stumpy tower.

Sadly, the overriding feeling was that St Wenn should be on a candidate list for closures. No matter how well looked after – and it is despite the unsightly pile of chairs in the south aisle chapel – it is hard to imagine that there is a need for a church in such a remote location when St Issey and Wadebridge are within easy reach.


A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall