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English Church Architecture -

Cornwall.

 

SHEVIOCK, St. Peter & St. Paul (SX 370 551)  (September 2010)

 (Bedrock:  Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group)

 

This is a fine church, built of uncoursed grey rubble with slate roofs and formed of a W. tower in Early English style, a Decorated nave, chancel, S. transept and S. porch, and an independently-gabled Perpendicular N. aisle with contemporary N. porch, which runs the whole length of the nave and chancel and was probably erected after a former N. transept was demolished.

 

The W. tower (seen left, from the west) is slender and unbuttressed, and surmounted by a soaring octagonal spire which seems likely to have been a later addition.  It is lit to the west by a solitary lancet and divided into two stages by a barely perceptible string course below the bell-openings.

 

The nave and chancel are lit to the south by cinquefoil-cusped Y-traceried windows, although there is space for only three of these and a two-light Victorian window.  The windowless S. porch is diagonally-buttressed and has a plain outer doorway, a restored wooden wagon roof, and an inner doorway bearing a sunk quadrant.  The transept windows are interesting and different on each side, being three-light and reticulated to the west, four-light with equal lights subarcuated in pairs and a circle above containing a five-pointed star surrounded by “bat-winged” trefoils to the south (see the left hand photograph below), and three-light with a lowered central light and a circle containing a small six-pointed star surrounded by deeper bat-winged trefoils to the east (see the right hand photograph).  The five-light E. window to the chancel has an elaborate form of cusped intersecting tracery, featuring subarcuated ogee lights with a pair of trefoils and a dagger above each, and secondary tracery within the first tier of reticulation units. The nave and chancel are built without structural division so only the internal lay-out of the furnishings and the raising of the chancel floor one step, demarcate their positions.  The chancel has a triple sedilia with two-centred equal arches and an ogee-pointed piscina, recessed in the S. wall.  The S. transept arch carries two sunk quadrants, the inner springing from shafts with fillets and semi-octagonal capitals, while within the transept itself, a squint looks through the east wall to the chancel, and two tomb-chests beneath ribbed coving, with recumbent effigies on top -  ascribed to Lady Emiline and Sir Edward Courtenay, d. 1371 and 1372 respectively (see the notes in the church) - take up the entire width of the S. wall.  Perhaps these dates are significant, for while all the work described in this paragraph is ostensibly Decorated in style, some elements of its vocabulary (the use, for example, of sunk quadrant mouldings) suggest a rather later date than that usually implies. Indeed, perhaps this transept was built specifically to house these tombs?  

 

The N. aisle is a Perpendicular addition to the building, lit by three-light N. windows with typical alternate tracery, a four-light E. window with alternate tracery and intersecting subarcuations of the lights in pairs, and a window to the west which is an exact copy of the S. transept S. window (as may be seen in the photograph at the top of the page), suggesting it was once the N. transept N. window, which was subsequently re-set here.  The six-bay aisle arcade (illustrated left, from the southwest) is composed of arches of two orders bearing convex mouldings, springing from compound piers formed of four major and four minor shafts, with capitals around the major shafts only.  A rood stair in the N. wall of the aisle clearly once gave access to a loft, and immediately to the west, a tomb-chest that probably once stood in the N. transept, features the effigy of another knight, identified in the notes in the church as the brother of Lady Emiline.   However, the best work to be seen in this aisle is the excellent wagon roof (shown right, from the west), with carved wall plates, a moulded ridge piece, moulded purlins at the halfway stage, and carved bosses where these cross the principal ribs. Cornwall is a great county for roofs such as this and a set of particularly fine ones can be found, for example, at Lanteglos-by-Fowey

 

Other noteworthy features of the building include the sixteenth century(?) carved bench ends, mostly displaying traceried designs although a few include figures.  (See the two examples, left.)  The font consists of a circular bowl supported on a circular stem and is probably late Norman.

 

Finally, the church was restored by George Edmund Street (1824 - 81) in 1850 and it was he who designed the unusually fine Victorian stained glass in the chancel E. window (Pevsner).  It was produced by William Wailes (1808 - 81) and is intricate and delicate although it does little to bring light into a dark building.