1. Holy Well

2. Mawgan Cross

3. Lantern Cross

4. Tower

5. Font

6. Window

7. Slate memorial

8. Letter of thanks

9. Madonna Window

10. Bench ends

11. Squint

12. Screen

13. St.Nicholas figure

14. Lady Chapel Screen

15. 16th century brasses

16. Pulpit

17. Carlyon Window



Inside Viewis one of those churches that attracts immediately. The classic English village was chosen by the BBC as the location for Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. Old cottages and a pretty bridge, wooded slopes and an ancient inn cluster around the parish church, itself slightly elevated from the village and tucked out of the wind that can sweep in from the Atlantic. It is a superb building, expertly restored by one of the great Victorian architects, William Butterfield.

Holy WellInside the Lych gate, which dates from the restoration of 1861/62, is an ancient well(1), thought to be where St.Mawgan first preached and baptised in the valley. The granite Hurling Trough near it is from the time when the Cornish game was still played in the parish.

Mawgan CrossBeside the path that goes into the memorial rose garden is Mawgan Cross(2) - brought here from the aerodrome site in 1942. Lantern CrossBy the top of the steps near the porch is a mediaeval Lantern Cross(3) , dating from 1420. Though it is very worn, the West side depicts the Annunciation, and the East, the Crucifixion.

TowerSt.Mawgan is unusual in that its superb tower(4), with its stair turret and spirelet, lies to the south of the church. Its lower part dates from the late 13th century; early in the 15th century it was increased to a height of 70ft. The tower contains 8 bells, rehung in 1958, of which seven were recast; the eighth is a priceless mediaeval bell cast between 1378 and 1407. The church is large, low and impresively looked after. The displays and photographs inside the south doorway speak of an active parish with plenty happening in the community. The original 13th Century building was cross shaped - cruciform, with a chancel, nave and two transepts. When the south aisle was added in the 15th Century, the south transept disappeared.

FontThe font(5) with its unusual figureheads in Norman style, is probably a 15th century copy of the earlier font. It was refurbished at the restoration with new pillars of Devon marble. The central shaft is made of Bath stone. The window on the west wall has particularly fine perpendicular tracery. There used to be a Musicians' Gallery across this window, during the 17th century, with singers and a band. The slate Coat of arms(7) is of the Vyell family; near it the large slate memorial slab is to Henry and Dorothy Stephen who died in 1611 and 1650. Notice the Jacobean clothing. On the north wall, the Letter of Thanks(8) from King Charles I is displayed. Every church in 'loyal' Cornwall has the right to display a copy of this letter, and many still do.

Madonna Window The artist's Cartoon is beside the Madonna Window (9), a memorial to the Lewarne family. Bench Ends

42 of the bench ends (10) are original and date from 1450-1500. There are the usual instruments of Christ's Passion (lantern, ladders, scourge, cross, crown of thorns) and several heraldic ones representing Cornish families, like the eagle preening its feathers - Rous family. A 13th Century Squint(11) gives sight of the Altar. It may have been used by lepers who were allowed only into the North Transept.

ScreenThe Screen(12), which is particularly graceful and airy, dates from about 1500. Over the central arch two gilded angels support a shield representing the Arundell and Carminow families. On the Chancel side is a fragment of a much older carving of men and animals.

There is no historical record of the life of St.Mawgan, but he was among the saints of the 6th Century who spread the Gospel among the Celtic peoples of the West. When the church of Rome became dominant, St.Mawgan church was dedicated to St.Nicholas; the Celtic Saint is not recognised in Roman Calendars. St.Nicholas A 16th Century figure of St.Nicholas(13) can be seen over the Vestry door. The Communion rails were designed by Butterfield, 1861. The 15th Century slate altar was restored in 1971. The Screen to the Lady Chapel(14) is 19th century, inset with ancient carved moulding. The Arches through to the Chapel are 14th Century, of Catacleuse stone quarried near Padstow.

16th Century BrassesThe Lady Chapel contains some fine 16th Century Brasses(15) to two generations of the Arundell family. Originally in the Chancel floor they were removed and broken up in 1860; over a century later the surviving pieces were restored by the then Rector, Roger Hawkins. Some of the brasses are palimpsest, with 14th Century Flemish engravings on the reverse side. Numerous mediaeval brasses were torn up and discarded as being 'Popish' at the Reformation, and many reappeared as palimpsest - it was cheaper to use the reverse of an old brass than to purchase a new plate. The Church sells an excellent Guide for more detailed information. The brass Corona was found decaying amongst rubbish in a garage; the Funeral Hatchment, 1828, was discovered in an outhouse in a Farm sale and rescued in 1966. The fine Pulpit(16) dates from 1553; the panels depict symbols of Christ's Passion. Above it is a late 18th Century iron crucifix.

Carlyon WindowThe stained glass window(17) shows St.Mawgan and St.Nicholas, patron saints of the church, and St.Dorcas, given in memory of the Revd.P.Carlyon who died in 1913 aged 102.


The text and pictures on this page have been extracted from
Church Trails in Cornwall - Set 8: The Padstow Area, with permission.