|Status||Grade I listed|
About 190 Celtic Saints were commemorated in the Middle Ages in Cornwall and Devon; they flourished between the 5th and 9th centuries, but their identities are hard to establish.
Notice the shields of the great local families on the two staged western tower. The Tower and Spire were built about 1450. The latter was destroyed by lightning on 28th February 1770, together with almost the whole roof of the church. Lake writes: The Vicar, the Rev. A Williams, was rendered insensible and nearly the whole congregation fell to the ground stunned... about ten were slightly hurt.' The spire was immediately rebuilt and serves as a landmark for local shipping. The Manacles reef to the east of the parish gets its name from the old Cornish 'Maen Eglos' or 'church rocks'.
In the handsome porch, swallows build their nests in the roof beams, and there is a jagged hole to the right of the door where the Holy Water Stroup once stood. Above the doorway notice the figure of the Saint - most such niches are now vacant, their figures removed when such carving was considered idolatrous.
On the left of the door as you come in there is a list of rectors, vicars and assistant clergy of this parish going back to 1201. Of especial interest is the list of patrons which shows the influence of Beaulieu Abbey from 1235 followed by the Crown and later local families. The present patrons are the Church Pastoral Aid Society. Of recent years the parish has been served by clergy who have been to New Zealand, India, China and East Africa. On the South Wall of the side chapel there is a memorial to Canon Diggens who did much work on the history of this church and was a canon of Dunedin. He died in 1916 at Saltash three years after leaving St. Keverne. On the North wall is a much faded wall painting or Fresco, of St Christopher, with a drawing, done in 1905, showing how much it had deteriorated during that century. This mural was revealed when the whitewash was removed from the walls in 1893 and is much degraded. The saint himself is in the centre of the mural and various episodes of this life are depicted in panels around the outside.
The three sets of Rood Screen Stairs are one of the great mysteries of all Cornish Churches. Normally the Rood Screen would run across between the Nave the Chancel, but there must be a different explanation here. Perhaps the first, west most, set went to the North Aisle roof and may have been the first stage up a central tower. The second doorway would then mark where the Rood Screen originally was. The third set would then show where the Screen was moved to around 1500. (The present Screen is from the Victorian restoration). However, the north wall has undergone extensive restoration as modern bricks were found in the stonework when a previous heating system was installed in 1987. Outside, the Roof Stairwell Turret can be seen.
There is fine and interesting pulpit of Jacobean age, however nothing is known of its history.
A brass plate on the North Wall of the church commemorates one of the victims of the sinking of the Titanic. The Sandys memorials throw interesting light on the faith and convictions of a family who exercised considerable influence in the area from their seat in Lanarth. For those interested in anagrams there is a very early one engraved on a memorial stone just in front of the Communion rails in the South Aisle. Near the main door, in the choir vestry behind the list of incumbents, can be seen the gudgeon from the transport ship Primrose which was wrecked in 1809 on the Manacle rocks. Above the chancel steps is the 1914-1918 War Memorial Cross, the base of which has part of an old beam dated 1457, the oldest piece of wood in the building.
High above, bats roost - there is evidence around the choir stalls! Bats are a welcome and protected species in many Cornish churches.
The South Aisle contains much of interest. Several of the original roof timbers, with their bosses and wall plates, can be seen in the South Aisle and the Chancel end of the North Aisle. The roof probably dates from about 1500 but by the end of the 19th century was considerably decayed. A diarist of the 1880's says that the building was a standing disgrace! In 1893 the older timbers were mostly removed and the larger part of the East Wall of the church demolished and rebuilt. New roof timbers were installed and new Delabole slate laid to the roof. This very major Victorian restoration was carried out in good taste, in contrast to the insensitive 'restoration' of the period to be found in many English parish churches. There is an interesting photograph at the east end of the nave which illustrates this restoration.
The near by Lectern is an outstanding and unusual example of craftsmanship.