Altarnun Church, Cornwall

Altarnun Church, Cornwall

Altarnun Church, known locally as the 'Cathedral in the Moor' is found in the wooded valley by where the lane fords Penpont Water. The Church of St. Nonna has one of the highest towers in Cornwall (109ft) and is a 15th century church. The only remains of old glass in the church is the late Medieval fragment in the East Window. It represents St Nonna.

The modern spelling of "Altarnun" is in probably wrong. The correct spelling should be "Altarnon", meaning the alter of St Non (or Nonna). She was the mother of St David.

The granite used for the 15th century church is moorstone, that is unquarried granite from the moors. The pillars, and capitals and bases are one stone each. The other stone used is from the previous Norman Church, and from the Mansion of the Trelawney Family one mile to the North of the Church. The family left Trelawney for Trelawne near Looe in the 15th Century, and the old mansion was used for rebuilding the church.

John Payne, the vicar, was tortured in the Tower of London and later executed at Chelmsford on the 2nd April 1582.

Lightning struck the Tower in 1791. This resulted in the Two west windows and the north one being destroyed. The windows destroyed by lightning were rebuilt in 1795, and the sockets of the old mullions may be seen in the sill.

Beautifully carved benches, with a variety of subjects including a jester, a man playing the bagpipes and a fiddler. 1510-1530 is when these 79 richly carved Bench Ends carved by Robert Daye have been dated to.

The large Norman font has carved bearded faces at the corners and rosettes in between. Other churches in the Lynher Valley have a similar style font. The Font, which was originally painted, Piscina bowl and shaft (now in the North Aisle by the Screen) and a portion of a capital built into the north wall of the vestry is all that remains of the Norman Church.

The Rood Screen, only a portion of which is still standing, is also 15th century. Access to the loft and to the Rood (or Crucifixion figures) was from the stairway in the north wall- the door inside the screen.

The Tower took over a generation to complete to the pinnacles, which are considerably over 100 feet from the ground. Inside may still be seen the deep padlocks used for scaffolding poles in building.

The Cornish Cross at the entrance of the Churchyard may date from the days of St Nonna (6th Century).

The Jacobean Alter Rails were added in 1684. The maker was John Gard, a Carpenter in Launceston.

The Old Rectory is just up the lane from the church. It was built in 1842 and Daphne du Maurier, who had been a visitor to the house, mentions it in 'Jamaica Inn' as the home of Francis Davey, Vicar of Altarnun. This elegant house was sold by the church in 1975.

Altarnun Village

Churches Cornwall