Facilities and features
History of the church.
This site has been a centre of worship for hundreds, probably thousands, of years. The tall granite pillar near the South-West corner of the church is thought to be a menhir, a pagan longstone of which there are many examples
in Cornwall and Brittany, said to be symbols of nature worship dating back 3000 to 4000 years. The Celtic cross near the South porch is a reminder of the early days of Christianity in Cornwall. Before the construction of the present
church, an Oratory (a small chapel) stood on the site, possibly with the cells or huts of monks forming a monastic community. Records show that this chapel was connected to Mylor parish. In 1309 the Bishop of Exeter granted it the right to its own cemetery but the association with Mylor continued until 1868. The present church building itself is thought to date from between 1430 and 1530 and was probably built by the community. The high altar is dedicated to Saint Laudus (or St Lô), a French saint about whom not a great deal is known. The church is built in the Perpendicular style, mainly with stone quarried locally (Mabe having been a noted source of fine granite which has been used in many locations in the UK and abroad). There are also features in Porphyry (a pink granite) and in Caen stone, a softer and more easily worked stone imported from Normandy. The church was completely restored around 1870 after a lightning strike, the well-known church architect Piers St Aubyn having been involved in the
project. The restoration included rebuilding much of the North aisle and replacing the roof timbers.
The Chancel is thought to be the oldest part ofchurch and probably rests on the foundations of an earlier mediaeval building. The East window's fine tracery is possibly the work of visiting craftsmen. The stained glass was installed in about 1880. It depicts the Transfiguration of Christ, when (witnessed by three of his apostles) he became radiant with light and Moses and Elijah appeared beside him. God the Father spoke to him, addressing him as his son. This window was donated in memory of M Shilson of Tremough (now part of the university campus). It was designed by Nathaniel Westlake of London who was influenced by his studies of mediaeval art.
The Reredos (the ornamental screen behind the altar) was the gift of a Mrs Stephen in memory of her husband. It has three panels depicting: the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive
a son by the power of the Holy Spirit; the Nativity; and the Last Supper. Fragments of a beautiful 15th century alabaster Reredos were found during the 19th century renovation (having probably been hidden while church assets
were being confiscated during the Reformation). These have been mounted on green marble on either side of the present Reredos. Identifiable fragments depict the flagellation of Christ prior to his Crucifixion and the martyrdom of a holy Bishop. The recess in the North wall of the chancel has been identified as a Sedilia (priest's chair) or an Easter sepulchre. The Piscina on the right-hand side of the altar is also thought to date from the 15th century. The Altar is fairly modern and the Altar Frontals were created by textiles students from Penryn campus, their creation being funded by a member of the congregation.
The North Aisle.
This part of the church was largely rebuilt in around 1870. The tracery in the windows is much older (15th century) and pink granite is used in places. There was once an altar beneath the east window of the North aisle and a
rectangular niche (with a carved bracket for an image) can still be seen. The stained-glass window next to the organ shows Solomon (holding a representation of his temple in Jerusalem); and Dorcas (who clothed the naked
and fed the hungry). It was installed in memory of Mrs Williams who gave much of the money for rebuilding the North wall. Prior to rebuilding, a school operated in a lean-to against the North wall; it was replaced by a new building at “Rockytown” (Trenoweth).
The organ was built by the Sweetland Organ Building Co circa 1914 for Chyvogue Methodist Church, Perranwell Station, originally a Bible Christian Chapel. On the closure of Chyvogue Chapel in 1969 the instrument was moved
to St Laudus by Mr DV Jose, organ builder and piano tuner, with the assistance of some of the Church folk. In 2008 Lance Foy Organs restored the instrument with tonal and mechanical improvements.
The Central Aisle and Arcades.
The North Arcade is probably a little older than the South Arcade. The arcades (each of six arches) appear to be alike but on close examination there are differences. Both have plain octagonal pillars but those on the North are slightly taller than those on the South. Also, the bases of the two arcades of pillars are slightly different and the arches are quite irregular in size and shape. The pulpit, pews and font are relatively modern. An earlier font is said to be buried under the Chancel floor.
The South Aisle and Lady Chapel.
The South Aisle was probably added between 1480 and 1500, built of granite ashlar. It contains a Lady Chapel with a smaller altar (also modern) and a chair which probably dates from around 1700. This was stolen (along with a fine
chest dated 1744) but the chair was recovered. A small priest's door is set in the outer wall. The stained-glass window was installed around 1880. It was made by the same London firm (Lavers, Barraud and Westlake) who designed the East window in the chancel. It was donated by Mr and Mrs Rail. The four panels show events from Good Friday to Easter Monday: the Deposition of Christ’s body after his crucifixion; the Risen Lord; Jesus with Mary Magdalene; and the Angel with the three Marys. A spiral staircase formerly led up to a rood loft, now removed, which would have given access to a rood screen across the chancel bearing a rood (a large crucifix). A ceramic bowl in the opening was a gift from the community of Primelin in Brittany to commemorate its twinning with Mabe.
The South Porch and doorways.
The inner doorway is made from fine Caen stone from Normandy, probably carved in the 15th century by local craftsmen. The pattern is cable and vine leaves and the letters IHC (an abbreviation for the name of Jesus in the Greek alphabet) are carved on one spandrel. Over the doorway is a niche for an image with a bracket of Caen stone. The figure of eight in relief on the arch seems to be unexplained. The South porch was probably added to the church between 1500 and 1520. It has a massive arched outer doorway in a rectangular recess. The exterior stonework roughly follows the carving in the Caen stone around the inner doorway; the interior stonework shows “The Lily in the Pot”, symbolic of the Virgin Mary. A stoup (a basin for holy water for worshippers to dip their fingers) is set in a recess in the wall to the right of the inner door.
The fine Western tower is a familiar landmark in the surrounding countryside. It was built in the 15th century in three stages and is 60 feet high (nearly 20 metres) with no buttress. The pinnacles were repaired in 1999 at a cost of
nearly £30,000. Within the tower is a narrow and steep spiral staircase with 50 steps leading to the top of the tower which gives spectacular views over the surrounding landscape, including St. Keverne church tower far away on The
Lizard peninsula. The bells (which are still in regular use) are now 6 in number. Records show 2 bells in 1549 and 4 or 5 by 1745. In 1876 all the bells were recast by John Warner and Sons of London and the wooden frame was enlarged to accommodate them. This was replaced with a metal frame in 1929 and that in turn was replaced in 1992 and the bells were rededicated. The treble bell was donated by Mr Marshall of New York in 1930 in memory of his mother.
Music and Worship
Our church has 6 bells, 1 with an inscription dating back to 1930 and the rest to 1876 - they were all re-hung and re-dedicated on 14th June 1992. We practice most Wednesdays at 7.30pm - give us a ring to be sure if you'd like to come along. For further information contact the Tower Captain, Pauline Staite on 01326 376134
At Mabe we are a small, friendly and robed church choir , practising most Friday nights at church from 6.15 to 6.50pm. Often singing in unison, we will split into parts if there are enough voices and the organist will teach any new lines .Sight Reading is not essential! During communion we usually sing two hymns quietly in the side chapel accompanied by the piano, and apart from the traditional hymns and sung responses we sometimes include Taize chants or a Call and Response type song. Mabe is a lovely and special church and we would welcome you into our happy little choir. For further information contact Lilian Miller on 01326 374890 or [email protected]
Groups, Courses and Activities
Help for Visitors
Guidebooks and information about the church can be found at the back of the church near the entrance.