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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

39 responses

  1. Great post. The first photograph is a real gem!

    February 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    • Thank you Victor!

      February 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

  2. the top shot is very much my cup of tea – long lead in good composition very balanced light

    February 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    • Appreciate that Scott, thank you.

      February 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

  3. weedimageoftheday

    How lovely! Do you ever get tired of the history and beauty of your neighborhood? It is so different from where I live. Great post!

    February 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    • Thank you! I don’t get tired of it, I love the history and I just feel very lucky to be here. :-)

      February 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

  4. in August i will visit Cornwall. I am looking forward to it very much

    February 11, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    • I hope that the weather is kind for your visit Karine. But, whatever the weather, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time here very much! :-)

      February 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

  5. Gorgeous shots.

    February 11, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    • Thank you very much Lou!

      February 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

  6. Oddly enough I have a ‘care home’ overlooking my beloved beach picked out as well…… best laid plans and all! :) Lovely shots there, Chilli.

    February 11, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    • Thank you Gunta. It’s always worth thinking ahead.. :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

  7. Nice post and your first shot is wonderful…and when the time comes (hopefully an eternity away) I will join you there with that view :-)

    February 12, 2014 at 12:36 am

    • Thank you Randall. I can certainly think of a lot worse places to be. :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

  8. what a beautiful place with a fascinating history – thank you

    February 12, 2014 at 3:17 am

    • Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

  9. very nice little place you discovered… and yes… if not cared for constantly by people who use it, it’ll fade away.

    February 12, 2014 at 4:42 am

    • So many have unfortunately Shimon. There is one church, St Piran’s Oratory, that has been completely lost to the shifting sands, it’s location marked with a small plaque. Another, St Enodocs, lies half buried. This is where the wonderful poet John Betjemen is buried. I did do a post on St Enodocs a while back. I must revisit. Thank you for you comment Shimon. :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

  10. The first image is a painting. A beautiful painting. I too hope the church survives. This is a wonderful post, Chillbrook.

    February 12, 2014 at 6:44 am

    • Thank you George. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

  11. I am yet to visit Cornwall but it is high on the list of places I want to explore! Your wonderful pictures have inspired me :)

    February 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

    • Thank you Lara. I’m sure you would enjoy a visit very much. There really are so many little places like this to uncover.. :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

  12. A beautiful serie!

    February 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    • Thank you very much Hans!

      February 12, 2014 at 1:11 pm

  13. Super shoot!!!!!

    February 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    • Thank you Elisa! :-)

      February 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

  14. That ‘Home’ is in an exceptional place. Beautiful on a summer’ day, scary on a day like today. Hope you still have a roof after today’s hurricane force winds, Adrian. Interesting back story in the Post too. That church looks far away and high enough to be safe from flooding, but perhaps the lie of the land is a little deceptive in the image.

    February 12, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    • Hi Andy, thank you. We still have a roof thankfully, just not much of a greenhouse left.. If that’s the worst of it for us, we’ve done very well under the circumstances..

      February 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm

  15. Such a lovely view from the care home, Adrian, although I hope it will be a very long time before you’re living there. What a beautiful setting for this church and its graveyard. Such an interesting history, even without the triple-breasted bit. :) Do you know if it was much further away from the sea when it was built? Great pics as always.

    February 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    • Thank you Sylvia. I hope it’ll be a while yet myself.. The triple breasted bit is intrigueing isn’t it? :-)

      February 13, 2014 at 10:11 pm

  16. You live so close to a lot of history, a treasure trove of possibilities.
    Beautiful landscapes, and yes, that ‘home’ does look like a lovely place to wile away the creaky years!
    : )

    February 13, 2014 at 1:39 am

    • Thank you Karen. Yes the creaky years, I like that. :-)

      February 13, 2014 at 10:06 pm

  17. Fascinating landscape – and as usual you make the most of it! Beautiful shots. I love churchyards, walking there and contemplating the lives of the people whose names are on the stones. I also hope the storms have faded and the chuch is saved. We have had much on TV about your part of England. My husband flew home from Cape Town yesterday and he could see the floodings from the plane before landing in London

    February 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    • It has been really bad but thankfully it does seemed to have calmed down a lot but we’re still getting rain. It’s going to take forever for all this water to drain away.. it’s nowhere to go. The ground is so waterlogged. Thankfully we have been OK where I am. Some have had, and are still having, a terrible time.. :-(

      February 20, 2014 at 7:06 pm

  18. Every summer we camp in Gunwalloe and every year we visit this beautiful church – nowhere else have I felt the warmth and serenity that seems to fill this honest humble building – every year I leave a little more of my heart there

    August 19, 2014 at 7:55 am