DAVIDSTOW PARISH CHURCH

The church is dedicated to St David, patron saint of Wales, Bishop of Menevia in Wales.   The local connection is that he was the son of St. Non whose parish of Altanon is part of our group of churches.  St Non (or Nonna) left her native  Wales in about 527 AD, one of many celtic missionaries that came to Cornwall at that time.

The present church dates from the 13th century but there were Christians in the area  long before that.   In 1540 the patronage was annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall  - where it still remains - but in the absence of a Duke of Cornwall the presentation to the Living was in the right of the Monarch at that time.   HRH Prince Charles, in his capacity as the Duke of Cornwall, is the present patron of the living. 

A major restoration was carried out in the 15th century and the main fabric of the nave, aisles and tower date from that time.  The Church has repeatedly seen its fortunes fade only to be restored again on a number of occasions.   In the 18th century it suffered more than most from a series of non-residential vicars;  by the middle of the 19th century it was` in a parlous state`, which led to the masive restoration which leaves the church largely as it is today.  This was paid for by the Pearse family of Trehane in 1875 and you can find a large stone plaque in the porch which mentions this family and its generosity.

 In recent years too, dwindling congregations and lack of interest tempted the Diocese to consider closing it.   Yet that very suggestion, coupled with the enthusiasm of leadership in the 1990`s  led to energetic and unexpected  fund raising, further repairs and restoration, leaving the building in the good heart  in which it is to be seen today.

The present church is dominated by its grand plain tower of three stages, unbuttressed and without battlements.   Much recent repair work has been done by the small worshipping community - only as few years ago, there were worries that the tower was so unsafe that it might fall into the road!    The visitor may have no such fears today.

The unusually spacious carved porch,is  made out of local Polyphant stone quarried a few miles away.  The scale of the porch perhaps prepares the visitor for the spaciousness of the interior beyond which is unusual compared to other local churches.   John Betjamin describes the building as `scraped` and many other writers describe the building as` severe` and` injudicious`.   Though it is true thast there is very little hint of its past glories are to be found, it remains a fine and impressive building with granite arcades to the aisles (notice the capitals) and a richly carved Victorian Reredos,  displaying scenes of Christ`s Passion.  At the eastern end of the southern aisle are the original bench ends which must once have filled this church.  Look for the man with bagpipes, a saint, a lion and a kneeling benefactor.

The Holy Well is located in the boggy hollow in a field owned by Church Town Farm to the northeast of Dasvidstow Church.   The Well is approached over a stone stile next to the Church Hall, access proving difficult because of the boggy nature of the land and considerable poaching by grazing cattle. The Well has been through two restorations, firstly in 1871 by Michael Williams (and the archway to the door bears testimony to that) and secondly in 1996 by Fred Saunders of St Breward under the auspices of, and financed by, the  Cornwall Archaelogical Unit.  It is currently in an overgrown state and can prove difficult to access.

Constructed in regular granite blocks, some of which it is said, from a ruined chapel in Lesnewth, at the time of the 1871 restoration.    The facade is four metres long and one and a half metres at its highest point.  The stones around the doorway are characteristic of the medieval period and the base of each of the flanking stones show the beginnings of what may be the original decoration.  A new oak doorway, but with the original iron fittings, was hung at the 1996 restoration.

In their book `Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall` published in 1894, L. and M. Quiller-Couch describe the Holy Well at Davidstow as being  more uncommon than beautiful.   The water has no peculiar value ascribed to it neither is there any legend or tradition belonging to the Well.  The water from the Well. after suitable treatment, is used in the making of the now famous Davidstow Cheese.

 


DAVIDSTOW PARISH
Webpage icon ABOUT US