Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SS 20505 15315



1/99 church of St Morwenna and 29.9.61 St John the Baptist


Parish church. Front, south doorway, part of porch doorway, 3 bays of north arcade C12, chancel and 2 bays of north arcade C13, north aisle wall C15, south arcade largely C15, 2 bays C16 (dated capital), south wall probably C16, lower stage of tower C15, upper stages C16. Restoration 1870s, vestry 1887, further restorations 1904 and 1908. Chancel stone rubble of small dimensions, freestone dressings; south aisle stone rubble with granite and greenstone dressings; north aisle stone rubble, freestone dressings; tower dressed stone brought to course, granite dressings the 2 upper stages and parapet larger blocks of masonry. South porch stone rubble and polyphant. C12 and C13 arcade local dunstone, C15 arcade polyphant, C16 piers and arches granite. C19 slate roofs. Plan; west tower, nave, chancel, 5-bay north and south arcades, south porch, north-east vestry. Important Norman arcade and doorways, some unusually late Gothic fabric and fittings. Chancel has C19 or C20 set back buttresses with offsets, coped east gable. East wall looks rebuilt. 3-light 1870s steeply-pointed window with hoodmould and carved label stops has flowing rectilinear tracery with carved floral motifs in place of cusping. Single C13 lancet windows in north and south sides that to south look restored. Blocked, pointed, chamfered priest's door on south wall. Vestry dated 1887 under lean-to roof against north wall has rectangular windows with square leaded panes. Lean-to shed against north wall of north aisle. C19 4-light east window in north aisle has hoodmould and label stops, no cusping or head tracery. 3 similar 3-light north aisle windows, widely-spaced to allow for thickness of north arcade columns. 3-light granite window in south aisle to west of porch, probably C16 of similar design to north aisle windows. 2 similar larger 4-light greenstone windows to east of porch in south aisle, probably C19 on pattern of C16 windows. East gable of south aisle looks rebuilt above string course which rises to form hoodmould of east window which has been repaired as 4 simple granite mullioned lights. West ends of aisles, facing seawards, windowless and rendered. Unbuttressed 3-stage west tower imposing in landscape with long and short granite quoins, moulded strings and granite coping to merlons and embrasures of battlementing. Tall corner pinnacles with crocketted finials. No belfry opening in west wall, north west internal stair turret. Lower stage of tower probably C15, reference in 1550 to "ffynysshing of the towre" probably refers to upper stages. Heavily-moulded granite string above tower plinth, shallow-moulded, arched west door with hoodmould and carved label stops. Chamfered ogee-headed opening on south wall at bell-ringing stage. North, south and east wide 2-light belfry openings with slate louvres below blind head tracery. String below parapet has triple bead moulding, gabled south porch has heavy coping and pairs of C12 corbels used as kneelers. Porch surmounted by carved Agnus Dei and 2 dragons. Porch doorway consists of re-used outer order of C12 moulding from C12 south doorway, being a round-headed arch of polyphant zig-zag carving below an order of flowers carved in heavy relief. C18 slate sundial on porch gable. Steps down into porch which has C20 diagonal boarded roof. Present south doorway consists of remainder of C12 doorway reset (q.v. Kilkhampton) minus outer order of carving, for which the colonnettes remain. Inner order consists of beakheads, zig-zags carved on soffit. Present outer order of zig-zags with zig-zags carved on soffit. Birds and pine cones carved on capitals. C19 door. Interior. Important Norman north arcade, the respond of the westernmost bay against a short section of wall running east/west. Dunstone ashlar columns, 2 with cushion capitals, 1 with capital carved with zig-zags, support round-headed arches. Westernmost arch unchamfered double arch, some C12 carvings at apex and either side. Next arch to east has 3 orders of carving, including beakheads, zig-zags and graduated pellets. Carved rams head projects from spandrel. 2nd arch from the west also richly-moulded with orders of decorative and sculptural zig-zags. At the east this arch springs from a rectangular pier with engaged shafts to west and east. 2 easternmost bays Transitional with pointed double-chamfered arches. South arcade has 3 Perpendicular polyphant bays to the west and polyphant east wall respond. Piers of cavettos between 4 shafts (Pevsner Type A) with crested capitals with fleurons and deeply-moulded arches. The remainder of the arcade in granite with piers of similar section, less ornate capitals, one dated 1564, another with text carved upside down and back to front. Roofs throughout Perpendicular waggons now unceiled with flat bosses and fleurons carved on ribs and principals. Wall plates vine-carved with carved angels. Chancel bosses carved and of higher quality. Colouring of chancel roof restored 1934. No chancel arch. Granite tower arch springs high from capitals on moulded, engaged shafts. Complete set of fixed benches with carved rectangular ends, bases largely original including carved rails against north and south walls. Benches have moulded rails, ends have gothic tracery above Renaissance arabesques. One end has "T.K." for Thomas Kempthorne, vicar from 1539-1594, another is carved with inscription and date of 1575. Small, primitive C12 or possibly earlier font with cable moulding round centre and remains of carving below. Font stands on plinth partly made up of moulded stone with carved fleurons, possibly remains of tomb. Pulpit is a 3-sided C20 drum incorporating some earlier woodwork as blind tracery. Chancel screen initially constructed by Hawker, removed, and then replaced 1908, is made up of fragments of C16 and C17 carving, including some fine vine carving with birds and animals: Metal tracery is screen dates from Hawker's design. Large reredos in chancel designed by E H Sedding in 1908, carved by the Pinwill sisters of Plymouth. Reredos contains cartoon by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1683-1754) and 3 engravings by John Baptist-Jackson (1701-1780). Piscina in south wall. Fragment of late C15/early C16 mural painting in north wall. Fragment of carving, probably C16 fixed to south chancel wall consists of profile head, dove and dragon. Slate memorial to John Ley, alias Kempthorne, died 1591, fixed to east wall of north aisle. Demi-figure and armorial bearings incised within border inscription. Slate memorial on west wall of south aisle to Grace Coryndon, died 1731 with arms, knotted drapery and winged skull carved in relief, some ancient colour surviving. Hawker memorial window by Lavers and Westlake, erected 1904 in south aisle illustrates Hawker and his dog, the church and various features in Morwenstow associated with Hawker. Large slate memorial to Hawker's first wife, Charlotte, died 1863 in floor beside pulpit. C17 communion table at west end. 3 chest tombs adjoin exterior south wall of south aisle, 1 chest tomb adjoins exterior east wall of south aisle. The church was restored in the 1850s under Hawker's direction, box pews removed, wooden shingles on roof replaced. R S Hawker, the poet and antiquary, was vicar of Morwenstow from 1835 to 1874. Further 1870s restoration probably by J.P. St Aubyn. Early C20 restorations. Slate figure of John Ley illustrated in A C Bizley, The Slate Figures of Cornwall. (Marazion and Penzance), 1965, p.116. E W F Tomlin, The Church of St Morwenna and John the Baptist, Morwenstow, Cornwall (Bude) 1982

Listing NGR: SS2050315314


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bizley, A C, The Slate Figures of Cornwall, (1965), 116
Tomlin, E W F , The Church of St Morwenna and John the Baptist Morwenstow Cornwall, (1982)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 04 Apr 2005
Reference: IOE01/14136/08
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Carl Lynn. Source Historic England Archive
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