Hompepage - Churches - St Carantoc
5th Century – When the first Christian foundation on the site was formed by St Carantoc, he made this place a Missionary centre.
In time the church became the centre of a college of Priests, a charter being granted by Edward the Confessor.This college was renowned for its learning , and consisted of a Dean, some nine Prebendaries and about four Priest-Vicars.One of the latter was Parish priest for Crantock and another for St Columb Minor , which only became an independent Cure after the reformation.
St Columb minor did not achieve parish status until the 18th century, Newquay was only a small fishing hamlet and became a parish around 1900. Crantock was therefore the mother church of the whole area . It is said to have seven church yards , each containing a chapel, and was a popular place of pilgrimage from the surrounding parishes.
The Rather unusual and ungainly appearance of the Church from outside, with the east end both higher and wider than the western part , is due to the chancel having been the centre of worship for the college , whilst the smaller and lower Nave served for the few poor parishioners.
The present church has Font and Nave of Norman design (though much re-built). The transepts are basically from this time. (Much of the present wall and windows are of early English rebuilding). However two of the original Norman arches remain – on either side of the chancel arch, and leading into the Lady Chapel on the south and towards the organ on the north. The lower courses of the massive Norman piers which once supported the Norman central tower can still be seen .
15th Century- The tower got into a bad state of repair, thanks to neglect, and collapsed, bringing down at the same time much of the walling of the Nave and Transepts resulting in much re-building. ( Signs of which are clearly visible in the haphazard arrangement of the rough and dressed stone work in the exterior walls).
16th Century- The college of priests endured until the Reformation though not always at full strength. Then it suffered the same fate as the monasteries. It was dissolved and all the endowment (never large) appropriated by the King to be distributed by him to his favourites. Crantock was left with just one priest, who had a stipend of £8 a year, and no vicarage to live in.
Further decay happened when Cromwells men striped it of its beauty in glass and wood.
17th Century- the South porch was built
the carving hung on the south wall of the Transept is probably 17th century Dutch work. It was excavated in the parish and is thought to have come from a Dutch Ship wrecked on the unfriendly Cornish coast.
18th Century – The gradual process of decay was halted by the restoration when the roofs were ceiled over with plaster, and the Nave and chancel filled with horse-box pews of cheap deal (the owners of these painted them in varying colours at their own whim) and the stone tracery in the windows replaced by small panes of glass set in wooden sashes.
19th Century- The 18th century restoration was poorly done descriptions in the early 1890’s paint a sad picture of something near to a mere picturesque ruin.
In the providence of God a new vicar was appointed to the Parish in 1894 – George Metford Parsons. He remained until his death in 1924, and the present beauty of the church is due to his vision, energy and inspiration. His stipend was a mere £20 per year, a voluntary gift from Lord Churston Patron of the Living, who received the whole tithe of £407.
1897 – By this year ha had refurbished the Vicarage and built a parish room. In 1897 he issued an appeal for funds to restore the Church.
First the walls and roof were made secure. Then the chancel was beautified with marble flooring and carved oak furnishings. The lady Chapel had been desecrated, the east end boarded off to store coke and lumber. When this was removed the old stone Altar was found still in place. This was repaired, cased in marble and alabaster, the roof enriched, the east window reopened and the widows filled with stained glass depicting the life of the Virgin Mary
Then the Screen was fitted , only five pillars of the old one being left (they can now be found in the North transept). The Rood made in Oberammergau was placed upon it.
1902- July the church was opened with great ceremony for worship by the Bishop of Truro.
Over the next few years the pews were placed in the Nave.
1907- by this year the restoration was done and practically paid for.
Every scrap of the medieval wood which could possibly be used was incorporated somewhere in the building. The small fragments of ancient glass are in the Sacristy window, with a text in Latin which reads “Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost”. The 18th Century oak Communion Rails were stripped of many a coat of paint and varnish, and restored to their present fine condition. Other pieces of ancient woodwork and statuary are to be found on the south wall of the tower. The large oak door incorporates some probably Tudor wood. The roundel in the upper panel is an enlargement of the ancient seal of the Deans of Crantock.
The Architect for the Restoration was Mr Edmund Sedding and the wood carving is the work of Miss Violet Pinwill and her school of carvers. The stained glass work was carried out by C.E.Tute.
At the back of the church are the stocks, under a canopy, and bearing a detailed carved inscription.
The font like stone just inside the porch is probably either a nether grindstone or a cider-press. It is certainly NOT a font. It is thought to date from the 16th century.
The Calvary high on the South Transept wall was erected by Father Parsons in memory of his parents.
Nearby there is a mediaeval stone coffin.