A Short History of Luxulyan Parish
and The Parish Church of St. Cyriac and St. Julitta
by Dr. John Rowe
Luxulyan - How the Name has Changed
As is the case with many towns and villages in this country, there have been several different spellings of the name over the years whereas its pronunciation has changed remarkably little. However, in this case the local pronunciation, Luck-silly-un, seems to owe more to the very earliest written form so far found, Luxylyan as long ago as 1162, rather than to the current spelling or to most of the intermediate variants.
Also a little unusual is that the current spelling did not become universal
until as late as after the turn of the 20th century, immediately before
which time at least two other forms were also in concurrent use: Castilly
throughout an 1894 guide book to Cornwall as well as on Bartholemew's maps,
Luxulion in an 1890's Kelly's Directory, whilst the Great Western Railway
used Luxulyan in its timetables to qualify the name Bridges by which the
nearby railway station was then officially known.
Earlier in the nineteenth century, the Cornish parish historian, Davies
Gilbert, quoted two alternative forms: Luxulian again and Luxilian, one of
the intermediate forms which was closer than most to the local
pronunciation Luxulian was also favoured slightly earlier by the
topographers the Lysons brothers but, earlier still, the somewhat extended'
spelling Luxullian has been found in legal deeds of 1745 while, centuries
before that, in 1412 to be exact, the form Lossulyan was recorded.
Finally, a fictional variation also deserves a mention.
Back in 1873,
Thomas Hardy took the name, albeit slightly changed to Luxellian not for a
"lower Wessex place name but for an aristocratic character in his third
novel 'A Pair of Blue Eyes'.
Luxulyan and its Saints
Since the early fifteenth century form of Lossulyan is 60 near to the
Breton place name Lossulian it has been suggested that the church was
founded by St Sulian, one of the party of Welsh missionary monks who
accompanied St Sampson to Brittany in the sixth century. Legends grew up
around his name. Like many other Celtic saints, he was said to have been
the son of a Welsh King - Brucemail, King of Fowys - who had abandoned his
heritage for the religious life despite violent parental opposition. The
group who travelled with St Sampson to Brittany crossed Cornwall between
the estuaries of the Camel and the Fowey It was a missionary journey and,
film missionaries of a much. later age, the group and. individual members
of it held their rites and services on sites with' pre-Christian religious
Here in Luxulyan there were, in fact, two such sites. The church was later
to be built in a round which in all probability coincided with the original
churchyard which was enlarged in 1884. Such circular elevated sites,
possibly ancient communal or even individual burial places,, had been used
for religious assemblages long centuries before the times of the migratory
The second site is that of the nearby holy well,- situated in the side of
the steep hill on the left of the road to Lanlivery. This was dedicated to
St Cyors in Celtic Christian times, hence the name of the adjacent house.
Little, if anything, is known of this saint save his name and an
attribution of his origins to Ireland. The well itself has been restored in
recent years but, late in the nineteenth century, the construction of the
railway cutting beyond the other side of the road was reputed to have "for
ever drained. its source. All traditions of particular virtues attributed
to this well have long since vanished, lost in an antiquity going Back long
before the Christian era.
Irish and Welsh missionary saints were comparatively late arrivals in the
Luxulyan area. "Men of the Dawn., as they might rather fancifully be
called, appeared and left their traces on the high moors at the northern
extremities of the parish. The earthworks and nearby burrows at Castilly
were, in fact, never a real castle a. the name had suggested to some older
The area has been described by recent archaeologists as being basically "a
large enclosure with entrance to a flat central area. and classified by
them as a "henge" which can be dated back more than four thousand years,
sometime between 2500 and 2200 BC.
Reckoned to be a regional focal point rather than a normal settlement, the
site was possibly a centre for trade along the east to west high ground
routeway through the length of Cornwall. Furthermore, it presents only a
slight detour from track. between the Camel estuary and the south coast
havens of the western peninsula.
With stronger claims to be considered a castle, near the southern limit of
the parish, is the iron age fort of Prideaux. Technically described as a
"multivallate hill fort"., three ramparts survive together with incomplete
remains of a fourth surrounding a level circular area of about two acres.
Magnificently situated on a 400 foot high conical hill, romantic
speculation can colour architectural fact with the realization that, before
trees were planted and grew to the east and south, King Mark's 'palace' at
Castle Dore wee visible less than three miles distant as the crow flies.
The name Prideaux has a Norman-French 1066, echo to it, suggesting in the
early 18th century to the Cornish historian Thomas Tonkin that it derived
Pres d'eaux, near the waters, for the sea formerly flowed up as high as
this place, till the (tin) stream works choked up its entrance, any one
that views the high cliffs under this place, and those on the opposite side
of the valley in Tywardreath, must needs be convinced of..
The family that took their name from it was certainly prominent in
Plantagenet times, but the name does not appear as a manor in the Domesday
survey. Oddly, too, the Norman introduction of rabbits into England may be
responsible for the hilltop remains In later times being known as Prldeaux
'Warren' rather than 'Castle'.
The compilers of the Domesday Survey in 1086 recorded two manors in
Luxulyan, "Bodiggo" and 'TrevilIyn ; the former three or four times the
extent of the latter which now appears on most maps as Trevellion The place
names had the Celtic prefixes of 'Boa' and 'Tre' meaning abode and
homestead, but 'Iggo' seems less assuredly Celtic than "villyn" Pre Norman
Conquest, the holder of Bodiggo, Aelfrlc, was undoubtedly Saxon; his family
may well have settled there four or five generations earlier, after the
Wessex invasion of the far western county by Athelstan. However, the name
Bretel, holder of Trevillyn, seems Celtic.
In 1086, the two manors together were occupied by some three dozen
families, but only four of them at Trevillyn. In addition, there were nine
'slaves' at Bodiggo but it is doubtful if these were serfs or landless
labourers. The two manors probably had a total population of 150 when the
Domesday record was compiled, possibly a score more or possibly less, with
Bodlggo far and away the most populous district within the bounds of the
Ancient Chapels and Holy crosses
Parishes as ecclesiastical units go back well into Saxon times, but the
first mention of Luxulyan as such occurs in a reference in an
ecclesiastical document of 1162 to 'Lanlivere cum Cappella de Luxylyan de
Bocardel'. That chapel was probably on the site of the chancel and nave of
the present church which was enlarged during the fifteenth century spate of
church restoration and rebuilding in Cornwall by the addition of the north
and south aisles. The oldest feature within the church is the Norman font,
the carved animals on which symbolize evil driven out by regeneration
Together with the mother church of Lanlivery, the chapel at Luxulyan was
linked with the Benedictine priory at Tywardreath, whose monks continued
the tradition of religious pastoral care which had been the characteristic
of older Cornish Celtic Christianity Before such chapels had been built,
members of monastic communities had quite regularly set forth from their
religious houses to minister to the laity in places where standing stone
memorial of an older pagan faith or wayside route markers stood.
Transformed into crosses by Christians, there were at least four of these
within Luxulyan's bounds.
The theory that these marked the w V linking Tywardreath Priory to St
Benet's Abbey in Lanivet is credible, although the tradition of a haunted
mock's way in the woodlands above Pont's mill on the Lanlivery side of the
Luxulyan Valley and going by the monastic grange of Gredow suggests another
There is, it may be suggested, some possibility that such crosses were
actually erected on sites where folk gathered for the ministrations of the
travelling monks, although along with such a notion it may be repeated that
there was a likelihood that pre-Christian menhirs were turned to Christian
uses by modification into representations of the Cross.
Furthermore, the comparatively recent history of these crosses raises
doubts as Just where they first stood. That which now stands by the church
gate was brought there this century after having been previously removed
from Three Stiles on the Halo road north from the village to Bodmin by Rev
R Gerveys Grylls, vicar of the parish from 1813 to 1853.
That at Trevellion Lane End on the same highway is known to have been moved
at least twice, firstly into the yard of Trevellion Farm apparently to
serve as a gatepost, and subsequently redeemed by befog moved to Lockengate
A third, at Conce Moor, is also recorded as having been moved to serve as a
gatepost elsewhere while the fourth, which we. down in the south-western
part of the pariah in the field at Methrose known as Broom Park, we. taken
by the Rashlelghs to Menabilly after they had acquired the Prldeaux estate
early in the nineteenth century.
There are vast gape in the history of the parish. These gaps are strikingly
shown by the list of vicars giving only three names before Henry VIII's
matrimonial imbroglios led to the breach with the Papacy. Sir Ralph de
Restyn wee 'chaplain' in 1304; it is rather tempting to associate 0a with
the place name Resprin, though that location had more links with St
Petroc's Priory in Bodmin than with Tywardreath.
Yearly thirty years later, in 1333, one Roger was 'parish priest of' the
chapel'. The next recorded incumbent wee Luke Philip in 1497 and, after
him, in 1536 when the Henrican Reformation was well under way, Richard
Wayte Hardly anything is known of these men, save their names.
There is little record either of other folk who were living in Luxulyan or
what they were doing during those years which saw the Anglo-French Hundred
Years War and the dynastic feud of Lancaster and York. Lists of names of
Cornish Members of Parliament include Prideaux and, from neighbouring
It is unlikely that the parishes caped the ravages of the Black Death or
the other epidemics which were so rife in those times, not to mention
periods of dearth and famine. There is little doubt that some tin streaming
went on together with subsistence agriculture.
However, the most intriguing insight into local life and human shortcomings
is provided by the Diocesan Register of Bishop Stafford of Exeter where it
records the issue of two commissions on 1st June 1417 affecting the
"Sanstorum Ciricii et Juletta de Lossulyan" the first being :
'for the absolution of Robert and William Sakkaiewy, William Trewbys and
Richard Kendale, excommunicated for committing a violent assault on William
Cowlyn in the Cemetery of the said Church'
and the second:'
for the Reconciliation of the Cemetery'.
The surnames mentioned can stir speculation but what is obvious from this
is that the Church had already been dedicated, or perhaps even
re-dedicated, to the eastern Mediterranean saints and martyrs, Cyrus and
his mother, Julitta.
The number of church dedications to these saints, including St Veep (on the
East side of the Fowey River, near Lerryn) and Newton St Cyers (in
Devonshire), has been attributed to returning crusaders from the Holy Land.
If this were the case, then the Celtic salute had, in all likelihood, been
superseded before the middle of the thirteenth century.
The re-dedication probably coincided with the separation of the Luxulyan
'chapel' from the mother church of Lanlivery and the defining of the
eastern boundary of the parish as being along a stream rising on Redmoor.
This stream eventually became a tributary of the river now generally known
as the Par but sometimes called the Luxulyan River, the lower course of
which is down the well-known scenic valley bearing the name of the parish,
yet for most of its length the 'Luxulyan' river is the actual boundary with
Is for the boundaries with other parishes - Lanivet to the north; Roche,
Treverbyn and Charlestown to the west; St Blazey and Tywardreath to the
south - streams and rivulets, outcropping rocks, trackways and prominent
trees were all taken as markers.
Despite minatory scriptural injunctions, it is certain that some of these
have been moved or disappeared. Even streams and watercourses have been
diverted by the activities of the old-time 'tinners', or to provide power
for mills while new frocks have been trodden to replace old trees have died
or been felled for fuel; ,even rocks have been moved for building or
It is thus little wonder that 'beating the parish bounds' was an
intermittent Whitsuntide recreation. An actual survey of the bounds, as
distinct from the regular ceremonial 'beating', was recorded as having
taken place in 1896. According to C T Trevail in his book entitled Life and
Reminiscences" the leader was the septuagenarian John Trevail, then the
only person in Luxulyan who knew the whole boundary, although there was
extant then, and there still is, a true copy made in 1783 of a parish
document of 1731 which lists all the then bounds.
Boundary Changes on the Cards
The two-day walk along the entire boundary of the parish at Whitsun 1896,
began at the old monastic grange of Gredow. Lying on the eastern side of
the stream running down from Roseneigh Hill, this would more naturally have
seemed to have been part of Lanlivery parish. Perhaps some of the forty
parishioners who gathered there that morning - only fifteen completed the
entire two-day walk - recalled the tale that 'once upon a time' the
incumbants of the adjoining parishes had spent a convivial evening playing
cards. The luck of the Lanlivery parson was out. Finally, out of cash, he
staked not his shirt or clerical garb but the tithes of Gredow in a final
attempt to retrieve matters. His attempt was in vain so the boundaries were
Quite which clerics thus wiled away their time with what certain
non-conforming sects fulminated against as the devil's Prayer book is not
known, but Gredow was certainly already in Luxulyan parish when the tithe
maps of early Victorian times were made. Up to then from the parochial
upheavals consequent upon the disolution and dispersal of monastic lands in
mid-Tudor time, there had been a dozen successive Luxulyan vicars who night
have bested their clerical neighbours in hands of cards. Just possibly it
was the parish's nearest approximation- to the Vicar of Bray - well-named
Methuselah Sharp who was inducted in 1631 and survived both Charles I and
Cromwell apparently to pay his debt to mortality in 1675.
The Rebuilding of the Church in tee Fifteenth
The parish church itself has bees enlarged, in fact almost entirely
rebuilt, In the century preceding the Reformation by the addition of north
and south aisles to the nave and chancel plus the erection of the
three--stage western tower. It wee a great period of church building and
rebuilding similar to the amount of like activity during the Victorian era.
There had doubtless been an economic revival after the catastrophic
succession of Black Death and other plagues during the previous century,
while previous high levels of population were gradually recovered.
Plantagenets, Lancastrians, Yorkists might squander their resources on
French wars and dynastic feuds, but funds which an earlier age had been
devoted by faithful Christians to crusading activities were, it may be
suggested, increasingly being used for ecclesiastical building. Ii' the
tradition be true that the turret at the north-east corner of the church
tower housed the local stannary records, it is natural to infer that, at
the time it was befog built, the tinners of the Luxulyan area were
There was plenty, possibly more than enough, building stone at hand for
enlarging the church. The local coarse grained granite did not present too
many difficulties to local masons who had become adept at cutting and
shaping it, although it is still a matter of wonder how some of the massive
blocks in the lower part of the church tower were manhandled into place as
many must weigh a ton or more.
The rebuilding must have taken years rather than months, but labour by the
time it was undertaken was cheap again after the wage upsurge caused by the
Black Death while building probably progressed apace in times of temporary
recessions in tin streaming fortunes.
Besides the aisles and tower, the fifteenth century builders added the
embattled, stone-roofed porch which is vaulted with Pentewan stone, the
sculptured Gothic panelling and tracery showing the erosion scars of age.
The original font was moved back to its present position in the extended
western end. Behind it, the tower arch is now open to the church; a singing
gallery which once hid it was removed in 1863.
The peal of Six bells, which are regularly rung, were repaired and re-hung
in 1968. Unusually, these bells are rung in an anti-clockwise direction.
The earliest record of the bells is in the time of Charles II but,
apparently, there were only two bells until the 1760's when two more were
added, one of which was the creation of the famous Pennington bell-founders
Lastly, the two largest were added in 1902 for a plaque on the Vest wall
The bells in this church were recast, re-hung and added to by Sylvanus
FRIBS of Truro in honour of his father and his mother, John and Jane
Carne in this Parish"
A year later this architect of considerable local repute (responsible
amongst other things for the Headland Hotel in Newquay as well as numerous
schools, banks and libraries all over Cornwall) committed suicide on a
train on the main line near Par. He is buried here in Luxulyan churchyard,
only a few yards away from Atwell where he had spent many of his childhood
Changes to the Fabric since the Restoration
The removal of the Singing Gallery is only one of many changes which have
taken place within the church during the ensuing five centuries. Old
records reveal that the singers were accompanied by a number and variety of
string and wind instruments before the Victorian introduction of a
harmonium. This in turn was replaced in 1911 by the magnificent organ
deservedly reputed to be one of the finest in the county. The dedication
service on June 1st 1911 was followed by a 'public tea' in the Vicarage
garden and the school was closed for the afternoon to allow everyone to
The arches of granite supported by monolith pillars of the same material on
the inner sides of the aisles remain as they were built, enduring testimony
to the skill and aesthetic taste of the craftsmen who erected them. The
nave roof timbers were removed in 1880 whereas those of the aisles remain,
though they might become a mayor source of concern in the future. The
Chancel & Screen was taken down in 1825 but the site of the stairway to the
R off Loft on the north side can still be seen.
Only in the west window of the tower are-there remains of fifteenth and
sixteenth century stained glass. These were collected and placed there when
the Chancel window was renewed as a memorial to Sylvanus Trevail who died
in November 1903. The old glass had had representations of the arms of
Prideaux, Hearles and other locally prominent families ant its colours are
particularly fine and clear, especially when seen against a weltering sun.
Twice removed was glass depicting the arms of Robert de Cardinham, one of
the reputed founders of Tywardreath Priory, which had originally been in
the east window of the south Aisle. Another modern window in the south
aisle, between the tablet memorials to Luxulyan's dead of the two twentieth
century World Wars was-erected in memory of Richard ant Laura Rundle of St
Winnow Laura Rundle was the sister of Sylvanus Trevail who erected the
previously mentioned Chancel window in his memory.
It can be surmised that in pre-Reformation or pre-Cromwellian times the
church interior was more richly decorated than in later days. To the
illiterate who comprised the greater part of the congregations in those
earlier eras, a picture was the most graphic and telling expression of
sacred and secular messages which the more learned wished to communicate to
It is likely that, where now there are slate and marble monuments mainly
depicting more recent times, there were representations on the plastered
walls of Biblical themes and, even more probably, dreadfully minatory
representations of Judgement Day. Little trace, if any, of the old
plastering can be seen on the bare stone walls of Luxulyan Church but, in
other Cornish parish churches, notably Germoe and St Just in Penwlth, wall
paintings of these earlier times survive.
A later vicar had the inspiration to bring and position against the north
well a copy of the Ghent altar-piece which was completed by Jan van Eyck in
1432. There is some supposition that the work, which depicts the Adoration
of the Lamb, was begun by his brother, Hubert, who died in 1426. What is
certain is that the Eyck brothers developed and perfected techniques for
painting in oils, thereby achieving masterpieces of colour and light
bedside which the twentieth century's self-styled 'glorious technicolour
seems anaemlcally pallid. Such colours were to be seen in many churches in
those times - they were expressions of faith rather than, as so mane later
'Reformers' and 'Puritans' feared, a distraction from true religious
Times and tastes changed but although the church may now be bereft of its
earlier adornments, there are a few later memorials which deserve some
passing attention from visitors
The Rashlelghs, who acquired Prideaux in 1808, are prominently commemorated
by the marble memorial in the south aisle. The lower part was erected by
John Colman Rashleigh, later Sir John, in memory not only of his first
wife, Harriett who died in 1832 at the age of 55, but also to three of
their four children who pre-deceased her. The upper part was erected in
memory of Sir John himself following his death in 1847 by the sole
surviving son and heir, Colman.
The oldest of these memorials, now placed on the west wall, is that to
Walter Hicks, who died in July 1636. He had lived in Lower Menedew, later
to be written Menadue and to become the home of the Trevails, which at that
time was a residence of almost quasi-manorial status since the decline of
the old Domesday manors.
Trevillion one of those manors, in the latter part of the eighteenth
century was the home of the Eudy or Udy family. The memorial to the Eudys
on the north wall lists the two parents, four sons and a daughter who all
died between December 1761 and July 1788 while that to the three Udys
(Henry, Ann, and their son, Hart) records the fact, which seems to stress a
superstitious belief rather than a mere coincidence, that they all died on
a Friday within less than a year of one another between May 1789 and March
Also on the north wall is a memorial to Joseph Carveth, vicar of the
parish, who died in 1728, the only vicar to be so honoured, tablet on the south wall is to Elizabeth Rosevere who died on the 21st of
September 1765 at the age of 61. Widowed twenty years earlier, the
inventory of the estate left to her to administer by her husband, William
who had lived at Chytan, is an indication of the material possessions of a
substantial local 'yeoman', the status of folk like the Udys at that time.
How prices and currency have changed since the mideighteenth century is
shown by some of the 1745 valuations of William Rosevere's possessions
Calves were valued at ten shillings (50p) each, a cow at 3 lb a group of
seven cows and a bull at 24 lb whilst sheep were between six and seven
shillings each (30-35p). In all, the live farm stock was valued at 119/16-
(119.80) Very minimal valuations were put down for the various household
goods and small hand tools, while the only item in a category equivalent to
farm machinery went down as 3 lb for 'a Butt Wain and Wheels and all other
Implements of Husbandry'.
The total value of the estate was estimated as being not less than lb 1,
134/13/31/2 (lb 1, 134.66 1/2p) However, Rosever had no less than lb
99/10/- (499.50p) in 'cash found in his Custody at the time of his Death';
four 'Chattle Estates' let out on lives in Chytan, Higher Bodiggo, and
Tredinnick reckoned to be worth lb 242; shares in tin bounds and
'adventures' valued at lb 38/7/- (438.35p), and no less than 80 lb in
'white' tin lying to his credit in Truro. He had left his widow reasonably
affluent, despite the fact that over forty per'cent of his estate had been
put down by the appraisers in the inventory as 'Debts Separate and
Disperate the Particulars of which are ready to be produced if Required'.
One who was probably far less affluent at this time was the parson. In 1746
the Rev John Cole described his vicarage at Luxulyan as being 'very old, of
stone and cob and thatch. The parlour planked walls plastered and also the
parlour chamber (i.e. bedroom above) The other chambers have only their
walls whitewashed and the ground floors floored with earth.' The previous
year he had informed Bishop Cleggett that, besides Luxulyan, he also served
Lanhydrock 'which is one of the least parishes of the diocese, and for the
serving of which I cannot legally demand anything for the stipend depends
upon the generosity of the family of Lanhydrock."
Further back in time, in 1680, the then Vicar, Mark Truebody, had in
another terrier summarized the vicarage house as consisting of '2 ground
rooms, a chamber over. A garden adjoining and a courtledge Cole's
successor, his son Francis, replying to an Episcopal 'circular' in 1779
enquiring among other thing" whether or not the beneficed clergy in the
diocese were residing in their livings, stated that he was living at
Trengosse (which he described as 'no great distance fro. Luxulyan' as the
vicarage was too "nail. Being the other side of Roche, it was nearer six
miles than five even as the crow flies so a journey of over eleven mile-
there and back was not all that not allthat short on horseback and
certainly not on foot - any other mode of transport between the two places
in the latter part of the eighteenth century seems rather unlikely.
Forty years later things were no better. The then Vicar, R G Grylls,
replied to a similar episcopal enquiry that he was serving the curacy of
Crowan, but that the Vicar of Lanlivery, the Rev Nicholas Kendall, served
as curate for him at Luxulyan. Kendall had told him that at Luxulyan 'the
house of reef dence is not in good repair and he stated that he would
'order it to be repaired immediately'
The outcome of those 'repairs' transpired to be the building of an entirely
new house of three floors with spacious reception rooms and set in grounds
of almost five acres. The Rev Richard Gerveys Grylls had become Vicar of
Luxulyan in November 1813, the fifth living he had acquired. After
graduating LL.B at Cambridge, he had been instituted Vicar of Breage,
Germoe, Gunwalloe and Cury but he relinquished the last two of these
livings in 1846, holding the others, with Luxulyan, until his death in
In his long career he must have employed several Junior clergy as curates,
and the Vicarage which he built - and twice further extended during his
lifetime - assuredly indicated quite conspicuous affluence, perhaps causing
the somewhat unquiet spirit of Parson Cole to haunt the extensive vicarage
grounds around the veritable mansion. The first extension almost doubled
the building's size and gave it its characteristic bay windowed reception
room which was used, certainly in later years at least, for Sunday & hoof
classes. The second extension, completed in 1843 by a builder named Bray,
was far more modest. Comprising servants' quarters and a dairy, it was only
two storeys high and, unlike the rest of the house, it was not timber
framed. It is thus small wonder that later incumbents found it almost
impossible to maintain (not to mention heat to a comfortable temperature in
The maintenance burden finally became t oo great so the vicarage was sold
by the church in 1968 and the name changed to 'Kings Acre'. Grylls'
handsomely landscaped gardens were subsequently divided and two new houses,
plus the new vicarage, have been built on the resulting plots. After having
served variously as a hotel, restaurant, and holiday flats, the main
building is now a private residence.
Although more modest in size, the Rev Humphrey, York described the new
vicarage (which was completed in 1976 so which he only briefly occupied
before he moved to Sheviock) as 'still larger than an average home, as it
has to provide a study for the vicar to work in and also room for some
parish meetings, besides being big enough for a family.'
"Parish Houses" for the Poor
The fate of the original vicarage, in which Truebody and the older Cole had
lived in cramped discomfort, tempts the speculation that, since it
obviously appertained to the parish, it was turned over upon completion of
the new building to the local parochial authorities to provide a second
'parish house'. In the early 1840's there were two of these, a little way
from and on both sides of the main church gate.
The mound opposite the Post Office within the churchyard walls is
definitely the site of one of these houses. During its demolition in April
1864, the surprising discovery was made in the cavity of a wall of about
eighty silver coins which dated back to the time of Elizabeth 1 and the
first two Stuarts
Were they hidden there in the 1640's when rival Royalist and
Parliamentarian forces were cavorting about south-east Cornwall and
ordinary folk felt the need to safeguard their possessions from the
freebooting proclivities of both of them?
If they were, then it seems certain that the old parish house would have
provided a safer deposit than Lostwlthiel for the Stannary Records reputed
to have been moved thence from the turret of Luxulyan church tower for
Unaware of the wealth hidden so close at hand, many generations ,over the
years of impoverished Luxulyan parishioners spent their last days in this
almshouse or others in the village like it. Certainly coming Into the
categories of Cromwell's guiltless of their countrymen's blood and of mute,
inglorious Miltons incapacitated by accident, sickness, debility or the
infirmities of old age, they were brought there to end their days and then
to find, nearby, an unmarked pauper's grave.
A few scanty parish records concerned with relief to the parish poor before
the implementation of the Poor Law In 1834 and the establishment of the
Union Workhouses do, however, reveal the names of a- few of then. So, along
with the Rashleighs, Grylls, Udys, Roseveres, Trevails, Hicks and the dead
of two World Wars, there is still some record of persons like James Choley
who, in April 1827, fell sick and applied for relief from the parish poor
rates. This appears to have been reasonably promptly paid to 0a by one
Joseph Polsue, one of the overseers.
By August that year, one of the women parishioners was fairly regularly
attending to his needs, besides which the parish w as making payments on
his behalf at ten day intervals for .... a plot of brandy. Admittedly,
though, it only cost somewhere between a florin and a half-crown a time;
that's 10 to 12 1/2p in modern measures.
Late in September he was moved up from the bottom of Bridges Will to
'Churchtown' Over the nest couple of weeks, there were payments on his
behalf for blankets, calico, soap and candles as well as firewood. The
entries for 0a end on October 18th with two shillings for a pint of ru and
a pound for a pauper's coffin.
Over the years there were many cases of this kind. Charity obviously
abideth and not all those in receipt of it felt its bread to be bitter.
Hope and faith also abided. There was the succession of incumbents,
twenty-four in all since Richard Wayte came to Luxulyan in 1536, to be
succeedeed in 1549 at the height of the mid-Tudor Protestantism by Robert
Chamlet who lived through the days -of Marian persecution. There then
Thomas Birkenhead 1562
John Head 1570
John Gillard 1594
Peter Wellington BA 1623
Methuselah Sharp 1631
Mark Truebody 1675
Joseph Carveth MA 1684
John Cole 1728
Francis Cole MA 1773
John Lewes XI 1796
Richard Gerveys Grylls LL.B 1813
Cuthbert Edgecumbe Hosken BA 1853
Henry Walter Taylor MA 1870
John Kendall Rashleigh BA 1874
Richard Coward MA 1891
Robert Sinclair Kendall 1900
Charles Frederick Jones MA 1903
William Elwell MA CF 1937 (also vicar of Lanlivery from 1953)
Robert Ross Somervell 1958
Humphrey Bowmar York BA 1966 (Priest-in-charge)
Michael John Adams BA 1983
David John Keighley BA 1989
To the enduring succession of the faithful who served the Church and
continuing generations of parishioners who regularly or intermittently
attended, it should be added mention of changes and additions over the
years which have adapted the abiding Christian ideals of faith, hope and
charity to time's transiencies.
The granite of the structure may be nigh eternal, but the woodwork has not
been. Canon John Kendall Rashleigh, during his encumbency in late Victorian
times carved the lectern and from his family home at Prldeaux cane panels
of carved wood now on the pulpit.
In recent years, the Lady Chapel has been improved by several gifts of
furnishings while the High Altar has been beautified by new hangings.
Formerly, carved wood adorned the reredos and altar. The Parish Church
possesses an Elizabethan Chalice and cover and a Paten dated 1576 but,
naturally, they are not kept in the Church. More recently, in 1986, the
Reserved Sacrament was re-lntroduced.
An extension to the churchyard, which is owned by the village and
administered by the Parish Council rather than the church, was dedicated in
1971 and a further portion at the lower end was consecrated by the Bishop
of St Germane on June 22nd 1989. The extensions are located a little way
down the lane beside the church, known locally as Church Hill, which leads
to Atwell thence onwards to Helman Tor. Being close to the tracks followed
by Sulian and the other Celtic saints who travelled across Cornwall on
their way to Brittany, this lane now fores part of the Saints' Way footpath
leading throughout from Padstow to Fowey.
Away from the Church there is more evidence of change. Modern housing
developments occupy most of the glebe lands which formerly separated
Bridges from Luxulyan proper and which were farmed amongst others by
parsons Cole and Grylls. The remainder of this land was devoted to the new
school. The panoramic view of Churchtown from the tortuously winding road
from St Austell and St Blazey Gate is thus hardly as impressive as it would
have been in former times.
Coning down the inaptly termed 'main road' from Bodmin and points north,
the hilly terrain conspires with the notorious Cornish hedges to obscure
all distant glimpses of the village so the traveller has at least reached
the relatively recent Village Hall if not closer still to the heart of the
village before realizing that he has arrived. Even from the high ground
between the Village Hall and Kltts Corner, the view of Churchtown in
general and the Church in particular, is severely restricted by the tall
beech trees planted by Grylls over 150 years ago which surround the former
Hence, today it may be reckoned that the most delectable aspect of Luxulyan
and its Church is that seen coming down the hill from Lanlivery, passing
Gredow, or perhaps further down the hill, Just after the lane from Prideaux
which winds through the magnificent Luxulyan Valley Joins in at Gattys.
The present-day Parish of Luxulyan is rather long and narrow in shape, with
St Blazey Bridge on the A390 St Austell to Liskeard road at its
southernmost extremity and Innis Downs, with its British Telecom Maritime
Radio Station and roundabout signalling the end of the A30 Bodmin by-pass,
in the north. The current adult population is Just under one thousand of
whoa roundly one third live in the village, the remainder being dispersed
amongst the numerous hamlets and farmsteads which make up the parish.
Luxulyan Valley and the Treffry Viaduct
Mention of the Luxulyan Valley might recall the brief comment in Murray's
1859 "Handbook of Devon and Cornwall. which sums it up so well
'a beautiful romantic scene of wood and rock, - indeed one of the finest,
if not the finest, of all Cornlsh valleys'.
Quarrying activities many years ago left scars on the landscape which, with
the passage of time, have either completely healed or actually add to the
wonder of the scene. The same can be said of the magnificent viaduct of ten
arches which spans the valley less than a mile from the village. This
structure was erected between 1839 and 1842 by the local industrial
magnate, Joseph Thomas Treffry of Place, Fowey.
It was, and indeed still is, both a viaduct and an aqueduct for below the
trackbed of the former tramroad (used for transporting granite and china
clay from the quarries around Bugle to the shipping point at Par) runs the
water which was needed to turn a huge water-wheel to haul the returning
empty wagons up Carmears incline as well provide power for the Fowey
Consols and other mines further down the valley then mainly owned by
Treffry as well. With a height above the valley floor of one hundred feet,
it is almost certainly the largest combined aqueduct/viaduct in Great
Britain and, after fears had been expressed locally for some time about its
future, these were allayed early in 1989 with its purchase by the Cornwall
Treffry, or rather the Trustees of his estate as he died in 1850, brought a
geological feature seemingly unique in the parish into national prominence.
Outcropping in a field at Trevanny Farm, appropriately known as 'Shabby
Rock Field was a boulder of coarse porphyritic granite which was deep pink
in colour and thickly spotted with black hornblende.
After the Duke of Wellington died in 1852, there was a long search for a
fittingly unique material to form an appropriate sarcophagus for his
remains in the crypt of St Paul's. Finally the Trevanny 'Shabby Rock' was
chosen so this seventy ton mass of 'Luxulianite' was excavated, a wn and
polished on the spot, the material proving so hard that special tools had
to be made to deal with it. The work, which cost lb 1,100. took no less
than two years to complete while upwards of a score of horse teams were
required to move the sarcophagus for the final finishing touches and
ultimate despatch from the Treffry workings at Lanescott.
Fragments. of Luxulianite are still found in the Trevanny neighbourhood,
much of it reputed to be the waste chippings from the carving of the Iron
Duke's sarcophagus. Many visitors to Luxulyan ask for souvenir specimens of
the rock, but these are increasingly rare, despite reports of some deposits
of this type of granite having been found when excavating the foundations
for new houses nearer to St Austell. A polished piece of Luxulianite was
presented to Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee in
Luxulyan Church and the Stannaries by Rob Pearce
The tin industry in Cornwall was an important source of employment from
earliest times. As the importance of the tin trade grew, the need to
protect those persons engaged in it became apparent. In 1197 Hubert,
Archbishop of Canterbury, despatched William de Wrotham to be Warden of the
Stannaries and to Protect the King's Revenue. In 1201 a charter was
conferred which confirmed the already ancient rights of the tinners. The
mining districts of Cornwall formed four Stannaries - Foweymore Blackmore,
Tywornhail end ' the United Stannaries of Penwith and Kerrier.
Luxulyan Church Tower is said to have been the repositry for the Charter
for Blackmore. This Stannary was made up of eight Tithings - Trethevy,
Pridis, Boswith, Treverbin, Trenance Austle, Tremedris, Tregarrack, and
Miliack. It is thought that this is the oldest of the Stannaries and that
the charter, which conferred its own set of unique rights and privileges on
the tinners, was kept in a coffer with eight locks, each tithing having a
It must be remembered that, up to the sixteenth 'century, most of the
'tinners work' was in streaming and that underground mining played only a
minor role. Evidence of streaming can still be seen in the valley near
Prideaux and of more recent workings at Red Moor - each reworking of the
ground destroying the earlier evidence of working.