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Listed Building
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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:
SW 61857 28448


SW 62 NW, 7/33

BREAGE, CHURCHTOWN, Breage, Church of Saint Breaca




Parish church. Incorporating part of pre C15 chancel but mostly rebuilt by and reconsecrated in 1466 (Church Guide) with south porch added soon after and north and south transept are possibly later C15; restored in 1891. Granite ashlar walls with mostly granite dressings. Dry Delabole slate roofs over the nave/chancel and over the parallel roofs of the north and south aisles, all with granite coped gable ends. The nearly flat roofs of the porch, transepts and tower (hidden by embattled parapets) are presumably sheathed in lead. Large ashlar stack clasping north west corner of north transept.

PLAN: nave/chancel (with chancel roof stepped down) west tower,north and south aisles are all of one build taking 6 years 1460-1466 (Church Guide); chancel incorporates earlier fabric. The south porch was probably added next and finally the north and south transepts just west of the rood screen which are probably late C15. The restoration in 1891 involved re-roofing the nave/chancel and repair or reconstruction of the aisle roofs. Probably old fittings removed at the same time.

Three-stage tower with plinth and set back weathered corner buttresses with set-offs, strings dividing stages, carved head gargoyles under cornice of embattled parapet and crocketted corner pinnacles over blind-panelled embattled turrets. The bracket-moulded west doorway is 4-centred with carved spandrels and label stops terminating at plinth moulding level; C19 door. The traceried 4-light granite window directly over the doorway is C15 Perpendicular with hoodmould as are all the other windows in the church but there is variation in the detail. Second stage is blind but the upper stage has slate louvred 3-light traceried window to each side. North aisle has 4-light window at west gable end and Slight window at east gable end. The north wall has two windows close together left of the north transept and two windows wider spaced right of the transept with moulded 4-centred doorway between. The windows have cinquefoil headed lights and cusped tracery. These windows are similar to the chancel east window and the south and west windows of the south aisle. The other windows are uncusped, untraceried except for traceried east windows of aisle with steep 4-centred arched lights under shallow 4-centred arches. The windows of both transepts are without hoodmoulds. The leaded glazing is either rectangular or latticed panes but some windows have both types. The north transept has 4-light north window, 3-light east window and 4-centred arched doorway towards the angle in the west wall. The east gable end of the chancel projects and has 3-light Perpendicular window with cusping in the tracery. Pre C15 plinth and other masonry. C17 inscribed former chest tomb slate attached to south wall of chancel. The east gable ends of the north and south aisles have 5-light Perpendicular windows with uncusped tracery. The south aisle 3-light south windows are similar to the chancel window: one window left of the porch; 2 windows between the porch and the south transept and 2 windows right of the transept with blocked 4-centred arched Godolphin family door between. The south transept has similar windows to the north transept: 4-light south window and 3-light east window. The porch has weathered set back buttresses with set-offs like the tower. Over the doorway is a sundial dated 1795. The doorway is late Perpendicular with panelled octagonal jambs (compare doorways of churches at St Just in Roseland, Mylor, Budock, Gunwalloe, and the resited courtyard doorway at Godolphin Hall qv.) The moulded inner doorway is like the north doorway with 4-centred arch and square hoodmould (suggesting that the porch is later than the aisle). Studded, probably C17, 2 panel door.

INTERIOR has much C15 timberwork: ceiled waggon roofs with carved bosses over the aisles; coffered ceiling with cross braced panels and carved bosses over the north aisle and a moulded beam and some moulded joists to the tower ceiling. There is a 7- bay arcade with standard A (Pevsner) type piers on either side of the nave/chancel and moulded basket arches between. The tower arch is carried on octagonal panelled jambs. Incorporated into windows in the south wall right (east) of the transept and the east window of the south transept is some medieval glass; holy water stoup with convex sided arched head in the porch and a curious corbel with dogs tooth and fluted decoration over the left hand respond of the north transept arch. Murals: Arguably the most remarkable C15 features however are the fine painted murals on the north and south walls including a very striking figure of Saint Christopher on the left of the north doorway. Fittings: mostly C19 including round granite font with round corner shafts in the Norman manner; traceried oak rood screen; reredos; oak choir stalls and pews; free standing cast iron candelabra; traceried granite tower screen (given as a memorial to James Jewill Hill). Earlier fittings include: in the north west corner of the north aisle, a Roman milestone bearing the name of Emperor Cassianus Posthumus (260-268 A.D.) found a few hundred yards from the church in 1924 (Church Guide); a probably C14 stone representing the crucifixion in the Godolphin Chapel, found by the coast near Tremearne (Church Guide); and a painted copy of a letter from Charles I 1643, at 'Sudly' Castle.

Monuments: the east end of the south aisle is the burial place of the Godolphin family and is known as the Godolphin Chapel; suspended from iron wall brackets are three helmets with wooden replicas of dolphin crests; (Dolphins are the principal feature of the family crest). In the chancel is a slate to John Goode of Methleth with an incised coat of arms incorporating a goose and 3 doves; on the south wall a pedimented monument with urn to Peter James, died 1850 aged 76; three memorial windows with coloured glass to the members of the Carter family. The glass in the west window of the south aisle given by the parishioners in 1863 to commemorate the marriage of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales to Alexandra, Princess of Denmark.

This church, despite being reputably of one build, has some curious design changes and anomalies. The east windows of the aisles, the transept windows, the porch doorway and the tower arch are in a later Perpendicular style. Another explanation might be that there was a clear distinction being made architecturally to use the more traditional style for the more important ecclesiastical parts of the church and using the modern style for the lay entrances and the chapels. For whatever reason the result is a remarkably complete C15 building. The only serious change since built (excluding the loss of all the C15 and C16 fittings) is the replacement of the nave and chancel roofs in the C19. Fortunately, the practice of skinning the walls of plaster, so popular with Victorian architects, did not take place at Breage and the painted murals that survive are some of the best examples in Cornwall and for that matter in England.

Listing NGR: SW6185728459


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

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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: 26 Nov 2001
Reference: IOE01/04945/21
Rights: Copyright IoE Muriel M Somerfield. Source Historic England Archive
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