Gwennap, St Wenappa

The Church

This important Grade 1 church stands at the upper end of a lush and beautiful graveyard which slopes from south to north.  A short distance above the church to the south is a detached bell tower, rebuilt in the fifteenth century, perhaps on twelfth century foundations. The church walls are of roughly squared and coursed granite, with granite detailing and dressings and roof-coverings of Delabole slate.

The early history of the site is uncertain. There may have been a Celtic religious building here but the present church dates principally from the fifteenth century. Some fabric from an earlier thirteenth century church may be incorporated at the west end of the south aisle, which may have been the original nave. What seems clearer is that the south aisle was extended eastwards in the early fifteenth century, when a south porch was built and a new nave was added on the north side. Later in the same century a north aisle was added, with a north porch and chancel aisles added subsequently.

The church is of high archaeological, architectural and historical significance for the surviving medieval fabric of the body of the church and the detached bell tower. The church has an attractive setting in the large sloping churchyard, which has many ornately-carved headstones – a reminder of the period when Gwennap was a wealthy mining area. Church and churchyard are important elements in the Gwennap Conservation Area.

The main roof and the majority of the furnishings in the church (including the tiled flooring, seating, font and pulpit) date from the second half of the nineteenth century and were introduced during successive restorations. They are typical products of their date.

The Bats

Survey work in 2017, 2019 and 2020 identified that the church has a maternity roost of Brown long-eared bats. These bats access the church through the eaves. Young bats learn to fly in the church, causing scattered mess across the church which is a burden to clean up.

Day roosts of common pipistrelle and Natterer’s bat are also present. Mitigation proposals will restrict the bats to the roof void, preventing them entering the body of the church, but leaving them ample space to roost and fly. We hope that the work will take place this spring 2021.

Upcoming events

If you’d like to contact or find out more about the church, visit their page on A Church Near You