The History

The earliest stone church on the site was probably erected towards the end of the 12th century and was cruciform in shape.  The lower parts of both the north transept (the Lady Chapel) and chancel walls are Norman masonry the stepped work at the base being quite distinct. The font is also from this period.  In 1259 the church was re-dedicated by Bishop Bronescombe.

The church was enlarged in the 14th century.  The north doorway and the two arches between the chancel and the south chancel aisle date from this time.  Further extensions comprising the six granite arches of the nave, the south aisle, the south porch and the three stage tower were constructed in the 15th century.

By the beginning of the 19th century the whole of the church was in need of a great deal of repair.  A certain amount was done but by 1843 restoration was becoming urgent.  The whole of the south chancel aisle (now the vestry and organ chamber, but once the Arundell Chapel) was rebuilt and paid for by Sir Thomas Dyke Acland who was related to the Arundells by marriage and had inherited the Manor of Trerice.

It was, however, not until the then vicar Thomas Hopkins Britton (1856-1880) died that things came to a head.  His family wished to remember him by placing a stained glass window above the high altar but the Vestry members were worried that the poor state of the wall would make this impossible.  John Sedding, an experienced architect from London, was appointed to report on the structure of the building and the condition of the interior.  His report in 1881 made to clear that the church was in a bad state and needed re-building.  Indeed, Mr Sedding made damning comments about much of the work that had already been done and in particular he condemned the east window in the chancel as one of the worst he had ever seen.

In 1883 work began on restoration under plans drawn up by Mr Sedding.  Crumbling walls were taken down and rebuilt using the old stone.  New roofs were constructed but most of the bosses over the nave are 15th century work salvaged from the old roof.  The south aisle and south transept were covered with Delabole slate and the roof of the tower and the floor of the bell chamber were also repaired.  A new pulpit and an oak high altar with new altar rails were also installed and the front was re-positioned and restored.

The floors of the chancel and sanctuary were paved and the new rood screen was designed to have traceried arches and fan vaulting. The boxed pews were removed and the interior was completely re-seated retaining twenty old bench ends.  A wooden plaque on the south wall immediately to the west of the inner porch acknowledges the contribution of £70 in 1883 towards the free seating in the church by The Incorporated Society for Building Churches.

When the church was re-opened in January 1884, The Church Times reported that “this church is now one of the most beautiful in cornwall”.

[Reproduced by kind permission of Mrs Ann Grose]