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English Church Architecture -



LANREATH, St. Manarck (SX 181 589)     (September 2011) 

(Bedrock:  Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group)


Nothing whatever seems to be known about this saint, and the only church dedicated to him (shown left, from the southeast) now appears in wholly Perpendicular guise, save only for the font.  The building is composed of a nave and chancel without structural division, to which are adjoined a W. tower and N. transept, and an independently-gabled S. aisle and chapel, also without structural division, with an adjoining S. porch.  The tower is the most striking of these component parts on approach, rising in three stages to battlements and crocketed pinnacles, supported by thin set-back buttresses.  The bell-openings are two-light, the two-centred W. doorway has blank quatrefoils in the spandrels, and the three-light window above has stepped, cinquefoiled lights and uncusped supermullioned tracery.


Elsewhere, the church windows include one with uncusped oval-headed lights in the N. wall of the transept, two with four lights and intersecting tracery beneath very depressed arches immediately to the west in the nave, windows with uncusped alternate tracery in the walls of the S. aisle and chapel, and a five-light E. window to the chancel (right), with supermullioned tracery, intersecting subarcuations, through reticulation, and supertransoms above lights 2 & 4.  The windowless S. porch has a four-centred outer doorway bearing a crudely carved wave and an inner doorway surrounded by a hollow, but by far its most important feature is its stone barrel vault, decorated at the intersections of the ribs with simple carved bosses which were all the hard grey granite would allow. 


On entering the church, one’s first impression is of spaciousness, created, in particular, by the characteristic Cornish absence of a chancel arch.  The five-bay S. arcade is similar to many in the county’s churches, formed of piers formed of four shafts separated by hollows, integral capitals to the shafts only, some simply carved, and arches above bearing a wave and a roll with a fillet.  (See the photograph of the westernmost pier and capital, left.)  The chancel sanctuary projects east of the S. chapel by about 18' (6 m.),  the transept arch is Victorian and dies into the jambs, and the tall tower arch carries a double-wave on each of its two orders, supported in both cases by a pair of semicircular shafts with capitals. 


Woodwork inside the church, however, is more significant than architecture.  A rood screen runs across the nave and aisle, defining their junctions with the chancel and chapel, in a position, very perversely, three and three-quarter bays from the west.  It is composed of ten bays, each formed - except for the two with doorways - of four cusped ogee lights with alternate tracery and subarcuation of the lights in pairs.   (The photograph below shows the section across the nave.)  It has all, it is true, been substantially restored (in 1905 according to Pevsner), but a lot of mediaeval work remains, including most of the dado, which retains some painted panels, depicting, among other characters, King Henry VI (reigned 1422-61 and 1470-71) (church guide) – a possible indication of date.


However, scarcely of less importance than the screen are the fine wagon roofs to the nave and aisle, with carved bosses where ribs intersect.  (The photograph below left shows the nave and chancel roof from the west.)  The nave contains a number of partially old benches, of which the two clergy stalls immediately west of the screen are conspicuously the best:  one nicely-carved arm-rest on each features a man and a woman at prayer.   (The former is illustrated below right.)  The pulpit is ascribed to the reign of Elizabeth I (1558 – 1603), although that too is much restored;  the round-arched panels around the sides display a number of designs, one of which features a two-headed eagle.
















The unusual, circular Norman font has palmettes decorating the bowl, a projecting, integral stone ring around the stem, roughly carved with zigzag facing upwards, and large “V”s on the chamfered base below.  The wooden font cover is probably Jacobean (Pevsner).  (See the photograph at the bottom of the page, on the left.) 


Finally, the church contains only one monument of note but that is a highly elaborate one, set up against the sanctuary S. wall and constructed in wood made to resemble stone (see below right).  Commemorating Charles Gryles (d. 1611) and his wife, Agnes (d. 1607), it depicts the couple in miniature. kneeling in prayer on the tomb-chest, supported beneath by their four sons and four daughters and watched over from above by the rector and Charles Gryles’s steward (church guide), who stand on opposite sides on projecting consoles.  The complicated superstructure rising from the chest consists of two tiers supported by brown alabaster columns with gilded Corinthian capitals.