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English Church Architecture -

Cornwall.

 

LANTEGLOS-BY-FOWEY, St. Wyllow (SX 145 515)  (September 2010)

 (Bedrock:  Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group)

 

St. Wyllow in another Cornish saint about whom nothing is really known with any confidence, although according to legend he was born in Ireland some time in the sixth century, lived most of his life as a hermit in Cornwall, and was finally beheaded for his faith in this parish.

 

Churches in far-flung parts of England are not always closely comparable with those elsewhere in the country and whereas some of the architectural vocabulary here would generally be associated with the early thirteenth century, in fact, almost the whole of the building probably derives from the late fourteenth.  It is situated in a hollow in delightful open countryside (as seen in the photograph above), albeit built into ground which rises to the west.  Surprisingly large for its setting, it is formed a powerful tower, a wide nave with S. porch and independently-gabled aisles, and only a projecting sanctuary to the east, for there is no discernible structural division externally between the chancel and nave or chapels and aisles.  

 

The tower (seen left) rises in four broad, unbuttressed stages, to three-light, square-headed bell-openings and battlements.  The renewed W. window scarcely looks out above ground level and the W. door is almost subterranean and approached down a flight of no less than eleven steps.  The W. windows to the aisles are also at knee height and the walls below are kept clear of the rising ground by a deep, narrow ditches.  To the north and south, the aisles are lit by four-centred windows chiefly composed of four cinquefoil-cusped lights subarcuated in pairs, with small daggers beneath the subarcuations and larger daggers in the heads.  (See the typical S. aisle window, illustrated below.) The three-light S. aisle E. window and the renewed(?) E. window to the sanctuary display the more characteristic West Country alternate tracery (typical, for example, of Somerset), with added subreticulation. The squat, windowless S. porch has a simple outer doorway bearing a single flat chamfer, but its important features, seen within, are the chamfered Norman jambs of the inner doorway, topped by abaci with chamfered under-edges (presumably survivals from an earlier building) and the well-constructed wagon roof, which anticipates the more impressive carpentry of the nave and aisles.

 

Inside the church, the aisle arcades are constructed in five bays, of almost round arches bearing a single wide chamfer, supported on relatively narrow octagonal piers with very modestly projecting capitals.  (See the photograph, left, which shows the N. arcade from the west.)  This might almost be mistaken for Norman-Transitional work, although it is actually Perpendicular.  There are no arches between the chancel and nave or chapels and aisles, and so the position of the chancel (which begins between the fourth and fifth bays of the arcades) is defined only by its fittings and being raised a single step.  The tower arch is unmoulded but nook-shafts on the east side, rising halfway up the jambs, suggest its predecessor was Norman and low. Beyond, the aisles continue westwards for some distance, and arches open between them and the tower, the S. arch consisting of two unmoulded orders and its counterpart to the north, consisting of three.

 

Furnishings in the building include the font at the west end of the nave, composed of a square bowl carved with a leaf scroll, supported on five circular columns.  This could also be late Norman in date though Pevsner ascribed it to the early thirteenth century.   A rood stair recessed in the east end of the S. aisle S wall, clearly once gave access to a loft, and immediately east of this, a  tomb canopy with a brass on the chest beneath, commemorates Thomas Mohun, who lived and died in the early fifteenth century.

 

However, unquestionably more notable than these is the church woodwork, especially the excellent wagon roofs to the nave and aisles, with moulded ridge pieces and purlins at the one-third and two-third stages in the former (see the photograph at the foot of the page) and at the halfway stage in the latter, and carved bosses where the purlins cross the principal ribs.  The sixteenth century bench ends to the restored nave benches are also of interest for their elaborate, fine carvings, featuring figures, fish, birds and animals in blank cinquefoil-cusped ogee arches above Tudor roses in quatrefoils in squares.  (See the two examples, right.) Finally, the carved, painted seventeenth century panelling round the western end of the S. aisle (south and west walls), formed of arches holding shields, separated by Ionic pilasters, originally formed part of a family pew before being placed here in the restoration of the church, carried out by E.H. Sedding (a nephew of the better-known John Dando Sedding) in 1906.  (See the notes in the church.)