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WELCOME TO THE ONLINE SPACE FOR MORWENSTOW CHURCH

The purpose of the website is to let you know about Morwenstow Church, its people and its activities.  On these pages you will find:

  • General information on our Church and our local community
  • a schedule of Services & Events
  •  contact information for the Curate-in-Charge and other members of his team with specific responsibilities
  •  printed versions of recent Sermons & Homilies (which may be of interest if you did not make it to Church)
  • an opportunity for us to deliver your prayers during our services – no matter where you live
  • … and various articles, photographs and other illustrations which will be added in due course.

AN INTRODUCTION TO MORWENSTOW CHURCH

The Parish Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist,  Morwenstow,  is dedicated to Morwenna (a local saint) and St.John the Baptist, and is part of the United Benefice of Kilkhampton with Morwenstow, within the Diocese of Truro.

A non-stipendiary Curate-in-Charge (known locally as ‘the Vicar’) lives in Kilkhampton and is responsible for both churches, each of which has its own Parochial Church Council (PCC).

Morwenstow Church is probably best-known for its links with the 19th century cleric, poet and eccentric, the Rev. R. S. Hawker, Vicar from 1834 to 1875. His vicarage (now a private house) stands nearby. The Church has close and very active links with St. Mark’s Church of England Primary School, located at the nearby hamlet of Shop.

The Church is approached through a lych gate with a slate stile alongside. An adjacent stone and slate building was formerly used as a temporary mortuary, and is still known locally as  the ‘Dead House’.

The interior walls of the Church are plaster-covered; the north wall of the chancel carrying a fragment of a 15th or 16th century wall painting believed to represent St. Morwenna. Opposite is a piscina, once used for washing Holy Communion vessels. This was uncovered by Hawker in 1855, having been hidden beneath the plaster for some 300 years.

The reredos above the altar features a triptych of engravings of the Crucifixion by the artist John Baptist Jackson (1701-1780), as well as a remarkable red chalk drawing of St John the Baptist by the Venetian artist, Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683-1754).

Fine carvings abound, including pew ends dating as far back as 1539, and there are many historic tombs beneath the floor of the Church as well as in the churchyard. Between the pulpit and the lectern is the tomb of Hawker’s first wife, Charlotte.  Hawker married again and was buried with his second wife, Pauline Anne, in Plymouth.

The Church has many memorials and some impressive stained glass windows. Particularly noteworthy are the Waddon Martyn windows (commemorating a prominent local family) and the Hawker Memorial window.

The restored original figurehead of the brig.‘Caledonia of Arbroath’ is mounted inside the Church high on the north wall opposite the entrance. For generations it served as the grave-marker for the crew of this ill-fated vessel, wrecked nearby in 1842. They, along with some 40 other shipwreck victims, were given a Christian burial by the Rev. Hawker. A weather-resistant replica of the figurehead now serves as the grave marker.

The Church has eight bells and an enthusiastic band of bell ringers. Four of the bells (including a tenor weighing 8 hundredweight) were cast in 1753 and the remaining pair in 1902.

For worshippers and other visitors there is a free car park near the lych gate, with a small car park for disabled visitors accessed from the driveway leading down to the Old Vicarage.

A short stroll out to the cliffs and then south along the Coast Path takes one to ‘Hawker’s Hut’ – the driftwood hut where the Rev.Hawker wrote sermons and poetry and contemplated the sea.

The Parish Church of St Morwenna and St John the Baptist, Morwenstow, Cornwall EX23 9SR, England

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