1.
The Tower

2. Porch Angel

3. Font

4. Mediaeval Bell

5. Memorial 1610

6. Vivian Memorial

7. Arthur Memorial 1627

8. Aumbry

9. Pulpit

10. Chancel

11. Russel Memorial

12. Pomeroy Memorial

13. Brewer Memorial

14. Holy Water Stoup

 

 

ST.ERVAN CHURCH
It requires a conscious effort to find St.Ervan, which is not on the road to anywhere. The effort is well worthwhile, for the church has a wonderful timeless atmosphere, completely unspoiled by the modern world.

Inside View It is tucked away almost at the end of a lane which leads only to a 13th Century mill, surrounded by its Churchtown, with Victorian Rectory and School house, older Kiddly Wink (which means selling ale and spirits) and Glebe Farm. An early baptismal well lies to the right of the lane below the church and a possible Holy Well on the left. The Church was never altered in the 15th Century, and remains a fine example of an early cruciform building.

Tower The church now has a short western tower, (1) the history of which makes sad reading. Originally built around 1422, (to house the bell of that date) and going up 6ft per year, it has massive six foot walls. Roughly built, time took its toll, and by 1840 it was considered unsafe. In 1868 the parishioners decided to pull it down with a team of horses before it got any worse, but that failed, so they used dynamite which brought it down to the first stage and damaged the nave. It was left exposed to the elements from 1888 to 1916 when it was covered with galvanized iron, seeming, as Henderson the Cornish Church historian put it, 'a picturesque ruin.' It was finally rebuilt in 1954 to a height of 24ft with a pyramidal roof.

Angel The angel (2) at the door of the 15th Century south porch came from St.Petroc Minor Rectory - many similar carvings can be seen in roofs all over Cornwall.

St.Ervan did not escape the enthusiasm of the Victorian restorers, but Sedding managed his work more sympathetically than most. Out went the box pews, the Georgian pulpit, the minstrels gallery at the tower and the chancel screen, and in came the pine pews and the red floor tiles; walls were rebuilt and nave and transept roofs renewed in deal - but somehow nothing spoiled the atmosphere of a place hallowed for worship for over 500 years; there is a strange sense of 'otherness' to be found here which speaks of prayer and the simple things of God.

Font The font (3) is Norman, with a very simple unadorned cup shaped bowl. There are ten interesting slate memorials on the walls of the church with well ornamented inscriptions and good bold lettering - they were moved to the walls to be better preserved.

Bell In the tower are lines from 'Summoned by Bells' by the former Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, who lived not far away, and for whom this place presented a life-changing experience. It is worth taking time to read the verses, for little has changed since he came here in the 1920s to be met by the bearded Rector, Prebendary Johnson, who suggested that Betjeman supposed 'Religion to be mostly singing hymns and feeling warm and comfortable inside'. On an oak stand in the tower arch is the mediaeval bell (4) for which the tower was built.

Memorial Moving east towards the altar, notice the slate memorial (5) before the north door, which is Norman. At the crossing, we move into the North transept where there is an ornate marble memorial (6) to Richard Vivian who was Rector here and died in 1708. This was restored and placed here in 1952, having lain for years on the floor.

On the north wall of the transept is another fine slate memorial (7), perhaps the best of them to William Arthur, (12) who died in 1627 - the figures are cut in low relief. It is worth spending time to read these monuments, which speak of exceptional men - many of them Rectors of this parish.

Aumbry On the east wall, close to the chancel, is an Aumbry (8): this is where the Sacrament (consecrated Bread and Wine) is reserved for the communion of the sick. The altar table dates from the 18th century.

Pulpit The Pulpit (9) is Georgian. It was thrown out at the Victorian restoration, but recovered from the Rectory, where it had been left standing outside, and restored.

The Chancel (10) was rebuilt in 1665, and reroofed in 1846 at the Rector's expense - it is a few degrees askew from the nave.

On the south side of the Chancel is the memorial (11) to Richard Russell, Rector in the Commonwealth period, who died in 1654: an exceptional clergyman. There is a further good memorial on the east wall of the south transept to William Pomeroy (12) who died in 1622. The other marble memorial dates from 1672.

Stoup The last of the slate memorials (13), to Jane Brewer, is near the south door and dates from 1642. Near it is the holy water stoup (14).

The church sells an excellent guidebook - when you visit please support this very small community who maintain this church with such reverence and enthusiam.

The text and pictures on this page have been extracted from
Church Trails in Cornwall - Set 8: The Padstow Area, with permission.
(my thanks to Mike O'Connor for scanning the pictures)
The 19 Church Trail packs are being produced by the North Cornwall Heritage Coast & Countryside Service, in conjunction with the Diocese of Truro, and may be purchased from all good bookshops.