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Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist

A Grade I Listed Building in Morwenstow, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.9093 / 50°54'33"N

Longitude: -4.5545 / 4°33'16"W

OS Eastings: 220505

OS Northings: 115315

OS Grid: SS205153

Mapcode National: GBR K2.R016

Mapcode Global: FRA 16BP.ZBK

Plus Code: 9C2QWC5W+P6

Entry Name: Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist

Listing Date: 29 September 1961

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1141774

English Heritage Legacy ID: 64904

ID on this website: 101141774

Location: St Morwenna and St John the Baptist's Church, Morwenstow, Cornwall, EX23

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Morwenstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Morwenstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Tagged with: Church building Norman architecture

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1/99 church of St Morwenna and
29.9.61 St John the Baptist


Parish church. Front, south doorway, part of porch doorway, 3 bays of north arcade
C12, chancel and 2 bays of north arcade C13, north aisle wall C15, south arcade
largely C15, 2 bays C16 (dated capital), south wall probably C16, lower stage of
tower C15, upper stages C16. Restoration 1870s, vestry 1887, further restorations
1904 and 1908. Chancel stone rubble of small dimensions, freestone dressings;
south aisle stone rubble with granite and greenstone dressings; north aisle stone
rubble, freestone dressings; tower dressed stone brought to course, granite
dressings the 2 upper stages and parapet larger blocks of masonry. South porch
stone rubble and polyphant. C12 and C13 arcade local dunstone, C15 arcade
polyphant, C16 piers and arches granite. C19 slate roofs. Plan; west tower,
nave, chancel, 5-bay north and south arcades, south porch, north-east vestry.
Important Norman arcade and doorways, some unusually late Gothic fabric and
fittings. Chancel has C19 or C20 set back buttresses with offsets, coped east
gable. East wall looks rebuilt. 3-light 1870s steeply-pointed window with
hoodmould and carved label stops has flowing rectilinear tracery with carved floral
motifs in place of cusping. Single C13 lancet windows in north and south sides
that to south look restored. Blocked, pointed, chamfered priest's door on south
wall. Vestry dated 1887 under lean-to roof against north wall has rectangular
windows with square leaded panes. Lean-to shed against north wall of north aisle.
C19 4-light east window in north aisle has hoodmould and label stops, no cusping or
head tracery. 3 similar 3-light north aisle windows, widely-spaced to allow for
thickness of north arcade columns. 3-light granite window in south aisle to west
of porch, probably C16 of similar design to north aisle windows. 2 similar larger
4-light greenstone windows to east of porch in south aisle, probably C19 on pattern
of C16 windows. East gable of south aisle looks rebuilt above string course which
rises to form hoodmould of east window which has been repaired as 4 simple granite
mullioned lights. West ends of aisles, facing seawards, windowless and rendered.
Unbuttressed 3-stage west tower imposing in landscape with long and short granite
quoins, moulded strings and granite coping to merlons and embrasures of
battlementing. Tall corner pinnacles with crocketted finials. No belfry opening
in west wall, north west internal stair turret. Lower stage of tower probably C15,
reference in 1550 to "ffynysshing of the towre" probably refers to upper stages.
Heavily-moulded granite string above tower plinth, shallow-moulded, arched west
door with hoodmould and carved label stops. Chamfered ogee-headed opening on south
wall at bell-ringing stage. North, south and east wide 2-light belfry openings
with slate louvres below blind head tracery. String below parapet has triple bead
moulding, gabled south porch has heavy coping and pairs of C12 corbels used as
kneelers. Porch surmounted by carved Agnus Dei and 2 dragons. Porch doorway
consists of re-used outer order of C12 moulding from C12 south doorway, being a
round-headed arch of polyphant zig-zag carving below an order of flowers carved in
heavy relief. C18 slate sundial on porch gable. Steps down into porch which has
C20 diagonal boarded roof. Present south doorway consists of remainder of C12
doorway reset (q.v. Kilkhampton) minus outer order of carving, for which the
colonnettes remain. Inner order consists of beakheads, zig-zags carved on soffit.
Present outer order of zig-zags with zig-zags carved on soffit. Birds and pine
cones carved on capitals. C19 door.
Interior. Important Norman north arcade, the respond of the westernmost bay
against a short section of wall running east/west. Dunstone ashlar columns, 2 with
cushion capitals, 1 with capital carved with zig-zags, support round-headed arches.
Westernmost arch unchamfered double arch, some C12 carvings at apex and either
side. Next arch to east has 3 orders of carving, including beakheads, zig-zags and
graduated pellets. Carved rams head projects from spandrel. 2nd arch from the
west also richly-moulded with orders of decorative and sculptural zig-zags. At the
east this arch springs from a rectangular pier with engaged shafts to west and
east. 2 easternmost bays Transitional with pointed double-chamfered arches. South
arcade has 3 Perpendicular polyphant bays to the west and polyphant east wall
respond. Piers of cavettos between 4 shafts (Pevsner Type A) with crested capitals
with fleurons and deeply-moulded arches. The remainder of the arcade in granite
with piers of similar section, less ornate capitals, one dated 1564, another with
text carved upside down and back to front. Roofs throughout Perpendicular waggons
now unceiled with flat bosses and fleurons carved on ribs and principals. Wall
plates vine-carved with carved angels. Chancel bosses carved and of higher
quality. Colouring of chancel roof restored 1934. No chancel arch. Granite tower
arch springs high from capitals on moulded, engaged shafts. Complete set of fixed
benches with carved rectangular ends, bases largely original including carved rails
against north and south walls. Benches have moulded rails, ends have gothic
tracery above Renaissance arabesques. One end has "T.K." for Thomas Kempthorne,
vicar from 1539-1594, another is carved with inscription and date of 1575. Small,
primitive C12 or possibly earlier font with cable moulding round centre and remains
of carving below. Font stands on plinth partly made up of moulded stone with
carved fleurons, possibly remains of tomb. Pulpit is a 3-sided C20 drum
incorporating some earlier woodwork as blind tracery. Chancel screen initially
constructed by Hawker, removed, and then replaced 1908, is made up of fragments of
C16 and C17 carving, including some fine vine carving with birds and animals:
Metal tracery is screen dates from Hawker's design. Large reredos in chancel
designed by E H Sedding in 1908, carved by the Pinwill sisters of Plymouth.
Reredos contains cartoon by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683-1754) and 3
engravings by John Baptist-Jackson (1701-1780). Piscina in south wall. Fragment
of late C15/early C16 mural painting in north wall. Fragment of carving, probably
C16 fixed to south chancel wall consists of profile head, dove and dragon. Slate
memorial to John Ley, alias Kempthorne, died 1591, fixed to east wall of north
aisle. Demi-figure and armorial bearings incised within border inscription. Slate
memorial on west wall of south aisle to Grace Coryndon, died 1731 with arms,
knotted drapery and winged skull carved in relief, some ancient colour surviving.
Hawker memorial window by Lavers and Westlake, erected 1904 in south aisle
illustrates Hawker and his dog, the church and various features in Morwenstow
associated with Hawker. Large slate memorial to Hawker's first wife, Charlotte,
died 1863 in floor beside pulpit. C17 communion table at west end. 3 chest tombs
adjoin exterior south wall of south aisle, 1 chest tomb adjoins exterior east wall
of south aisle. The church was restored in the 1850s under Hawker's direction, box
pews removed, wooden shingles on roof replaced. R S Hawker, the poet and
antiquary, was vicar of Morwenstow from 1835 to 1874. Further 1870s restoration
probably by J.P. St Aubyn. Early C20 restorations. Slate figure of John Ley
illustrated in A C Bizley, The Slate Figures of Cornwall. (Marazion and Penzance),
1965, p.116.
E W F Tomlin, The Church of St Morwenna and John the Baptist, Morwenstow, Cornwall
(Bude) 1982

Listing NGR: SS2050315314

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