Paul and Judith live in Landrake which is about 10 miles from Plymouth and in Cornwall-close to the very southwest point of England It’s a small village of about 1,000 people. Last night Pete and I took a stroll before supper.
Turning a corner the church of St. Michaels pops into view. As early as 1086 a ‘wood and wattle’ (Per the Domesday book) structure of Saxon origin stood in this village. Landrake was an important spot, being at the south-east border of what is now Cornwall. It was close to the border delineating Saxon and Celt lands. Sandwiched between two rivers it allowed for the movement of goods.
Churches were places of refuge and safety and placed high on hills to meet these needs. They were also seen as status symbols, the hills showcasing tower heights. It’s no coincidence towers grew and grew in height.
A peek at the headstones revealed sad and dramatic tales. Dates ranged from the 1700’s to modern times at the northern side of the church. One I read told of a man falling off his horse, dying young and widowing a wife and 7 children. It then continued to pity her to have to feed those children.
This one, less dramatic, is dated 1759. Many were unreadable, wee remains of slate tablets, sanded smooth by years of weather. Somewhere in here is a headstone dedicated to a man who was lost to the Titanic’s sinking.
The first stone church was probably rectangular with pillars at the sides. It’s been expensively added on to and refurbished (mostly in the 15th century) and unrecognizable like most churches built at that time. Inside, the granite font is likely the oldest part of the present day church, dated to about 1100. Unfortunately, lacking a vicar, the church rarely opens. The side facing us in the photo above may be one of the older sections.
The faces in the stone intrigued me. I noted most were on the north side.
A 100ft Tower, built in three stages, began in the late 14th century and took nearly fifty years to complete. One document I read suggested the Black Death hit the village around that time and delayed its completion. Sixty eight people from the village succumbed at that time and every family lost at least two members to the Black Death.The Plague hit again in 1593. 59 more people were buried at Landrake, all but 8 being buried in the month of August per the writings I perused. Approximately half the Cornwall peoples died during the plague.
The stone used to build this church came from nearby Tartan Down Quarry at Landrake.
The photo below turned out horrible. But I’m leaving it in as it is the only pic of the entire front I have.
Today, one bell is all that remains as two of the three original were sold to raise funds to replace the internal woodwork of the tower in 1904.
There has been a Clock in the Tower since 1671. I presumed it was more new.
Stain glass windows were not added until the late 19th century and the south side originally had small, slit-like windows for protection.
Look at how the stones’ edges are gently wearing smooth along the glass.
After soaking that in we walked to the end of the street and drank in this view. It was getting dark.
Flowers look much brighter against old stone walls. These rose hips were the size of ping-pong balls and the flower so beautifully scented. I noted these next to another impossibly old home steeped in history.
Fuchsia, one of my new-found favorite garden plants, thrive here. You’ll see more pics of them later.