St Tallanus stands just over the crest of a hill from the sea, probably little more than its flagpole being visible from the water.
Approaching it from the seaward side is slightly strange as the church is invisible and only two stages of a three stage tower are visible. The tower stands on the south side of the church and seems to grow out of the hill. An extension of the porch roof forms a small pentice which links the church to the tower.
Inside, the best roof is that of the south aisle which was restored in 1907, the nave roof having been restored (badly) in the mid C19. There is also a north transept now used as a vestry/store.
The main features are:
- The C15 font
- The magnificent slate tomb to Sir John Beville d1578
- An inscribed slate ledger stone to Joanne Mellow d1625
- The stocks which, unusually, have room for an even number of legs (6)
Some C15 bench ends of a recognisably Cornish style which are in very good condition given their age but which lack the lively subjects of those at Altarnun: there is a seriousness here.
One commentator remarked on this bench end that ‘.. the style and excellence of the carving reveal a craftsman of skill and artistic talent in the composition of this pleasing design. Gothic tracery and quatrefoils within a border of foliage frame panels contianing male and female busts on socles in profile with stylised head-dresses facing one another, carved in low relief.’
Sir John Beville’s slate chest in the south aisle is a greater rarity: brilliantly carved in slate which still holds its detail (but which is very difficult to photograph without oblique lighting).
Another slate monument, just inside the door, is to Robert Mark who was killed by the preventive men, ie while smuggling. His epitaph is one of those joyous pieces of self-justifying doggerel which characterises so many monuments in the late C18:
In prime of life more suddenly,
Sad tidings to relate;
Here view my utter destiny,
And pity my sad state.
I by a shot which rapid flew
Was instantly shot dead;
Lord pardon the offender who
My precious blood did shed.
Grant him to rest and forgive me
For all I have done amiss;
And that I may rewarded be
With everlasting bliss.
Note: St Tallanus may well not have existed. The name may have come from the Holy Place (Tal) on the Brow of the Hill (Lan). Given the use of ‘lan’ to mean holy place, this may be the wrong way around.