St Cornelly or in Latin Cornelius was the patron saint of all animals until the time of St Francis of Assisi. He is nor the saint of horned animals. This saint is also patron to two churches in Brittany those of Carnac and Morbihan
The existing church stands on a raised site, overlooking the valley of the River Fal, which could have been an Iron age round. The present building seems to have begun in the 13th Century. It is possible that Brittany sailors brought the faith to this area of Cornwall. whilst it is difficult to recognise it now, the river Fal was at one time navigable to a point above Tregony, and the town was an important port, predating possibly Falmouth and certainly Truro. It wasn't until the reign of Henry VIII (1509- 1547) that it ceased to be primarily a port.
From 1333 until 1973 The church was under the care of the Parish of St Probus and St Grace.
1576- A local man, Cuthbert Mayne, who had become a Roman Catholic Priest at the English College of Douai, returned secretly to England, and passed as a steward at Golden Manor, between Cornelly and Probus.
1577- A search was made by authorities at Golden, and Cuthbert Mayne was discovered hiding there. He was taken to Launceston and there tried and sentenced to death. It was difficult at that time for his accusers to find a capital charge with which to try him, for the Act of Parliament making it a capital offence to receive Holy Orders "overseas" (i.e. receive Roman Catholic Orders) had not yet been passed, and thus had no validity. He was therefore condemned on the alleged ground of denying the Queen's spiritual supremacy (Queen Elizabeth I 1588-1603: saying Mass (then expressly forbidden, and to remain forbidden generally, until 1833): possessing a printed copy of a papal Bull: and wearing an "Agnus Dei" (an ancient medallion made of wax). He was executed by being hung drawn and quartered on 29th November 1577, at Launceston.
As was the custom at that time, his head and quarters were exhibited at various places associated with his "crime". One of Cuthbert Mayne's "quarters" was hung on the old Tregony Bridge as an example and warning to all those who were tempted to break the Law in this regard. Cuthbert Mayne was beatified in 1888, and canonised in 1970.
The Gregor Family.
1640-Sixty years after St Cuthbert Mayne's Martyrdom, Trewarthenick, together with a number of local farmers, was bought by a most successful Truro merchant, called John gregor. He was eventually to acquire a very large amount of property in this part of Cornwall, and also to the west. John Gregor restored the nave of St Cornelly Church, and his coat of arms (a chevron between three partridges) is featured prominently on the 17th. Century pulpit in the Church. He also established a Family Vault in the Churchyard, to the North of the Chancel. The children of John Gregor extended the family estates through a combination of judicious marriages and investments. His grandson, also called John, but nick-named "The Giant" on account of his size, rebuilt part of Trewarthenick House, and was probably the first of the family to live there permanently. Throughout he following centuries the Gregors continued to live in the house, and the Parish, and to maintain the church at Cornelly Church Town. They also managed to extend their property, their fortune and their social standing in the county.
By 1720 such was that fortune and that standing, that Francis gregor of Trewarthenick became Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Cornwall. Such a station in the community required of the Family something more fitting than a Family Vault in the open air, to the north of the Chancel of a small country Church, as the last resting place of the Gregors. Thus Francis had an aisle built over the vault, and the gregor Aisle was created by simply removing the north wall of the chancel. There is on the exterior West Wall of this North Aisle, a finely cut tablet recording this event. Another son of Trewathenick, also a Francis gregor, amassed such a fortune that he was able not only to seek, but to succeed in being elected as a Member of Parliament for Truro. The Gregor fortune was mainly in land, and at this time comprised of eight manors or part manors, as well as land in thirty parishes, and "scattered holdings" in sixty parishes in Cornwall. Though he was sheriff, Francis success in being elected to parliament in 1790 caused considerable comment at the time, for he had to defeat a number of more "acceptable" members of the local aristocracy. As a member of Parliament, though, he was acknowledged, even by his political enemies and opponents, to be a man of considerable political skill and of great integrity.
1973- By order of Her Majesty, The Queen, in her privy council the church was united with the existing Parish of Tregony with St Cuby.