St Martin's Church, Lewannick

ORIGINS
The parish name of Lewannick has been recorded in many forms over the years. Just some of the variations have been Lawaneck, Lewanecke, Lanwennock, Lawaneke and Lewanak. Many theories have evolved as to the origins of the name, some of which are worthy of detailing here.
The historian Tonkin claimed the correct name to be Lanwenoc, sharing similar origins with Landewednac. Another possible source is Llanwinnoc. "elan" meaning a space enclosed for religious purposes, and "winnoc" meaning either marshy or monks. This is an interesting theory with regards to the actual site of the Church as it is indeed enclosed in an oval area. It does not appear to be on or near marshy ground therefore could it have been the site of an early monks' enclosure? The Church is undoubtedly on a very ancient site. The historic stones found in the area bear witness to this. It may well be that a wooden Saxon Church stood on the site of the present building. It is recorded that whilst digging the foundations of the south columns in 1890, the base stones of a 12th century erection were discovered.
Lewannick may be the Lawanhoc mentioned in the Doomsday Book. If this is so, at the time came under the care of Bodmin Monastery. It is known that the local Estate of Trelask(e) was given to Richard, half brother of William of Normandy, in 1066, and that the Church was given to Launceston Priory by Richard, Lord of Trelaske, in 1230.
The Church was on the route of travel from Launceston Priory to the South Coast from where pilgrims would sail for France. A possible link with the Church of St. Winnow on the Fowey has been suggested.
Lake's Parochial History of Cornwall (1870) states that Lewannick Parish was known for "the purity of its water and the longevity of its inhabitants." Indeed a spring near Trelaske known as Joan's Pitcher was said to be good for the cure of sore eyes!


THE FIRE AND RE-BUILDING.
During the early hours of 12th January 1890, a fire started from the stove and spread throughout much of the Church. The local paper states that the sexton lit the stove ready for the Sunday services, on the Saturday afternoon (llth) and checked it again during the evening. However at 1 a.m. a Mrs. White saw the light of the fire inside the Church and alerted Mr. Isaac Dawe and his two sons. Soon the village was roused, but there was little that could be done;


" the burning rafters fell on the dry seats consequently the flames spread with remarkable rapidity and it was soon evident that the structure was doomed to destruction."
(Cornish & Devon Post, January 18th 1890).


All that survived were the external walls, portions of the columns, the font, the cresset stone, the roofs of the two porches, the vestry and two marble memorials. All the remaining timber work, the internal fittings (including many fine memorials), and the bells were destroyed. The loss of the 16th century benches which were of oak with ornately carved ends, was a particular tragedy.
An appeal was immediately launched, which was so generously subscribed to, that by the end of March a contract for the restoration was signed. The architect, Mr. Otho. B. Peter of Launceston, was instructed to re-design the interior to be as near to the original as funds would allow.
Local Polyphant stone was used for the columns of the South Aisle whilst the floor between the aisles and in the Chancel was paved with tiles.
The new pews were of pitch pine. However the end of one (at the rear of the South Aisle) is of oak and was carved as a replica of
one dated 1546, which was destroyed by the fire. Six new bells were cast, using some of the metal from the old ones, and inscribed as follows:
1. "I call all ye to follow me."
2. "God preserve the Church." A. Reed, J. Foot, Churchwardens. 1 890;
3. "Rev. Charles Harwood Archer, Vicar, 1890.
4."Peal destroyed by fire January 12th 1890. Recast and re-hung October 1890."
5. "Restoration Committee- C. Archer, C.G. Archer,
R. Luskey, A. Reed, J. Foot, J.P. Garland, J. Prout; 1890."
6 "I call the quick to church and the dead to grave,
1890. Charles Gordon Archer."
Remarkably within ten months, the rebuilding work was complete and preparations were made for the day of opening which was to be 11th November (St. Martin's Day).
There was a service during the morning, attended by local personages of note, for which the new bells were rung in "a merry peal." This was followed by a public luncheon, held in the Board Schoolroom, which was so well attended that many had to wait for a second sitting! Speeches were made by the Archdeacon and the Vicar, and many toasts were proposed. At the conclusion of the luncheon another service was held in the Church which was crowded to overflowing. A public tea followed and in the evening a supper was given to the workmen and ringers.
It was truly a day of celebration which would be long remembered by the parishioners of Lewannick.


ST. MARTIN OF TOURS.
St. Martin was a Roman soldier whose shrine it to be found at Tours in Central France. He died in 397 AD St. Martin was a very popular Saint in mediaeval times.


RECTORS AND BENEFACTORS.
A list of known rectors dating from 1261 is on display in the Church. However a few of them are worthy of mention here.
It is recorded that an un-named 14th century priest was committed to Launceston Gaol for felony. This may have been Thomas Bray (incumbent 1381-1398) who it is known was ex-communicated.
The rector from 1702 - 1730 was Ely Foster whose descendants were known to be living in the parish until the late 19th century. There are many Fosters buried in the Churchyard.
George Mangles who was rector from 1797 until 1811 was a staunch opponent of Methodism and went to extraordinary lengths to prevent the Methodists from meeting. In 1805 they conducted Prayer Meetings in the house of a shoe-maker named Evans. Unfortunately he was compelled to stop hosting such meetings as Rev. Mangles threatened to withdraw his custom. The Methodists then rented a room in the house of a widow named Peter, for £4 per annum, but the clergyman again thwarted their plans be offering the owner £14 per annum, thus ensuring that both the Methodists and the widow were turned out. In 1807 the offer of a farmer, Reginald Jenkins, to let out a room to the worshippers was again blocked by the rector, in the following year John Dawe of Trevadlock allowed the use of his house. As Mr. Dawe was a yeoman, Rev. Mangles could do very little about it.
Two 19th century priests came from the Archer family who were the local squires at Trelaske. Charles H. Archer was married to Jane Rashleigh of Menabilly (recently home of Dame Daphne Du Maurier). A marble memorial to her is sited on the North Wall of the Church. The Archer family maintained dose links with the Church until the last squire died in 1958. A brass plaque in the East Wall, behind where the family used to sit, states that the Archer memorials on the South and West Walls were destroyed in the fire of 1890. Only the memorial to Jane, previously mentioned, survived the fire. It is worth noting that the village Inn is called the Archer Arms!


THE OGHAM STONES.
Little is known about the origins of the Ogham stones at Lewannick, but it is thought that such stones commemorated Christian interment and may date from about 500A.D.
Ogham writing consists basically of four sets of strokes or notches with five notches in each specific set. These are incised in the middle of, or on either side of, the edge of an upright stone. This form of writing is of Irish origin. The two Lewannick stones also have Latin letters inscribed on them, possibly a form of translation from the Ogham writing.
The first stone in the South of the Churchyard (near the road) was discovered on 7th June 1892 by Mr. A.G. Langdon. Although it is made of granite, it is quite worn and the inscriptions are difficult to decipher. However there are Latin characters on the angle and the following Latin inscription:
I N CEN
V I
M E M
0 R I A
The stone inside the Church was found by Mr. F.G. Nicholls on 17th July 1894. It had been undiscovered until then as it was in two separate pieces built into the walls of the North Porch. It is made of grey Elvan stone and is much better preserved than the first stone. Mr. Nicholls had the two pieces removed from the wall and erected together in the Church at this own expense.


THE CRESSET STONE.
The crcsset stone situated in the Church is of polished granite, but of finer quality than the local neighbourhood produces.
The top stone is circular, lft. 6ins. in diameter, and 7ins. deep. The seven holes or cups in the top are 2 1/2ins. wide by 3ins. deep. It stands on an octagonal base stone.
The precise purpose of such a stone is not fully understood but it is thought to have been used to provide light. The word cresset probably derives from the French word "'craisset" meaning oil lamp.
There are possibly only eight other such stones known in this country. The number of cups varies from just one at Dearham Church, Cumberland, to sixteen cups at Calder Abbey. It was stated in 1890 that "of all the existing cresses stones, none is so perfect and well preserved at is the one that survived the great fire at St. Martin's Church.''
A description of how such a stone may have been used occurred in "The rites of Durham."
" At each end of the dorter was a square stone, wherein was a dozen of cressets wrought in each stone, being fill'd and supply'd by the cooks, as they needed, to afford light to the monks and novices on their arising to their matins at midnight, and for their other necessary uses."


1980 ONWARDS.
Of course the work of restoration didn't finish on that day in November 1890, but is a continuous process.
The window behind the Alter was erected in 1903 to the memory of Henry Edwin Sargent and his family. The clock was placed in the tower in 1919 by parishioners in memory of those who fell in the First World War. The small window on the south side of the Altar is also in memory of a soldier who was killed in that war. In 1948 the present organ was erected in the Church, being moved there from Tregeare House.
In 1993 a glazed window screen was erected at the rear of the Church, adjacent to the Tower. During 1996 an inner porch was installed at the South Door. Both reduce draughts hence the cost of heating. To the present day routine maintenance and improvements are a vital necessity which cannot be denied.


SOURCES
Lake's Parochial History of Cornwall. (1870)
Venning's Directory 1901.
A Cornish Church Guide, 1925. Charles Henderson.
The Victorian History of the County of Cornwall. (Vol. 1)
Journal of the Royal Institute of Cornwall. (Vol.X1)
Launceston Weekly News.
Cornish & Devon Post.


St Martin's Church documents:

Lewannick Church destroyed by fire - Cornish & Devon Post Jan 18th, 1890

Cresset Stones:- 'From Architectural Relics in Cornwall'

St Martin's Church photographs:

Ogham Stone
Ogham Stone
Ogham Stone
Ogham Stone
Ogham Stone
Ogham Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Cresset Stone
Font
Font
Font
Font detail 1
Font detail 1
Font detail 1
Font detail 2
Font detail 2
Font detail 2
Font detail 3
Font detail 3
Font detail 3
Font Detail 4
Font Detail 4
Font Detail 4
Font detail 5
Font detail 5
Font detail 5
Font detail 6
Font detail 6
Font detail 6
Font detail 7
Font detail 7
Font detail 7
Font detail 8
Font detail 8
Font detail 8
Cross over North Door
Cross over North Door
Cross over North Door
Plaque in memory of William Vosper Esq
Plaque in memory of William Vosper Esq
Plaque in memory of William Vosper Esq
Plaque over north door of church. Inscription: In memory of William Vosper Esq Barrister at law, who fell asleep in Jesus. April 5th 1855, Aged 51. His end was peace. Also Eliza Widow of the above and wife of the revd. W. Tarr, who was suddenly removed to her heavenly home, November 25th 1867, Aged 64. 'Wisely waiting for her Lord'
Two wall plaques
Two wall plaques
Two wall plaques
Two wall plaques on north side wall of church. Inscriptions: 1. Sacred to the memory of Jade the beloved wife of Revd Charles H Archer and daughter of William Rashleigh of Menabilly who died at Menabilly Octo 23rd 1854 in the 31st year of her age. Her remains are interred in the Family Vault of her Ancestors at Tywardreath. 2. Brass plaque: Also to the memory of the Revd Charles Hayward Archer B.R. born August 6th 1819 died 27th June 1899 for 55 years Vicar of this Parish. His remains lie in the adjoining churchyard.
Detail of carved oak screen 1
Detail of carved oak screen 1
Detail of carved oak screen 1
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Detail of carved oak screen
Carved bench end - replica of destroyed bench end of 1546
Carved bench end - replica of destroyed bench end of 1546
Carved bench end - replica of destroyed bench end of 1546
Plaque commemorating installation of clock in tower
Plaque commemorating installation of clock in tower
Plaque commemorating installation of clock in tower
Plaque reads: The clock in the church tower was placed there by parishioners and others as a thank-offering for peace and in honour of those who nobly fought for the Empire in the Great War 1914 - 1919
Stained glass east window1
Stained glass east window1
Stained glass east window1
Stained Glass east window2
Stained Glass east window2
Stained Glass east window2
Interior view looking west down the aisle
Interior view looking west down the aisle
Interior view looking west down the aisle
View down aisle looking east
View down aisle looking east
View down aisle looking east
Detail of replacement pillar following 1890 fire.
Detail of replacement pillar following 1890 fire.
Detail of replacement pillar following 1890 fire.
Pillar carved in Polyphant Stone.
Detail of original granite pillar from St Martin's Church.
Detail of original granite pillar from St Martin's Church.
Detail of original granite pillar from St Martin's Church.
St Martin's Church organ
St Martin's Church organ
St Martin's Church organ
Carved slate plaque from South Porch commemorating those who fought in first World War
Carved slate plaque from South Porch commemorating those who fought in first World War
Carved slate plaque from South Porch commemorating those who fought in first World War
South Porch roof timbers
South Porch roof timbers
South Porch roof timbers
South Porch roof timbers
South Porch roof timbers
South Porch roof timbers
   Tuesday, 17 October, 2017    © Lewannick History Group 2017