Gunwalloe Church – St Winwaloe
Some time ago, I made reference the Poldhu care home where I hoped I would while away my dotage, wheeled out each morning by a caring nurse to enjoy the most marvellous views of the Cornish coastline. Well, I got a little closer today, not closer in terms of needing to check in, but closer geographically. Here it is on top of the cliff..
Having eaten a fine lunch at the Halzephron Inn, I was actually visiting the little church at Gunwalloe, dedicated to a perhaps a lesser known saint, but a popular one according to one source, St Winwaloe.
Winwaloe was a Breton saint, the son of Fragan, a prince of Dumnonia, and his wife Gwen Teirbron also known as Gwen the Triple-Breasted.. Hmm. He was the first abbot of Landevennec and Gunwalloe was a chapelry of Breage when first recorded in 1332. A holy well was once sited near the porch. The church probably began as the manor chapel of Winnianton which lay close by. It is the only Cornish church actually sited on a beach.
The church, which probably started as a chancel and nave (part of the 13th century church perhaps surviving at the west end), has two fonts. One Norman, of Pentewan stone with a round bowl and a stylized tree of life carving, was found in the churchyard. The other, with a granite octagonal bowl, would appear to be its 15th century replacement. The tower may be the oldest feature, perhaps dating to pre 1400. Other detached Cornish towers can be seen at Feock and Gwennap.
I was surprised and rather saddened to see the CCTV camera attached to the detached tower but these are the times we live in. I was also saddened to see evidence that the recent storms have caused flooding in the church and talking to a lady I met in the churchyard today, I learnt that the cliff behind the church has been severely eroded. Tons of rock have been dumped to try protect the cliff that is protecting the church. I hope that the storms will abate and the church will remain, as it has for the last 8 centuries, a place for quiet contemplation and prayer.