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Davidstow. The slopes of Brown Willy, distant clay tips, and a high, wide landscape are all that the casual traveller sees of Davidstow, with its milk factory, its abandoned wartime aerodrome, now used for Microlighting, and its sheep and ponies grazing the moor. Yet just beside the Launceston - Camelford road stands one of the more remarkable churches of North Cornwall, serving a number of tiny hamlets and the group of moorland farms which scatter the area.
Davidstow Church is remarkable in its capacity for
resurrection. During a history which certainly goes back to the early 13th
Century, the church has repeatedly seen its fortunes fade, only to be
restored again on a number of occasions. In the 18th Century it suffered more
than most from non-resident vicars; by the middle of the 19th Century it was
in a parlous state, which led to the massive restoration which leaves the
church largely as it is today; in recent years too, dwindling congregations
and lack of interest tempted the diocese to consider closing it. Yet that
very suggestion, coupled with the enthusiasm of the leadership in the 1990's
led to energetic and unexpected fund raising, further repairs and
restoration, leaving the building in the good heart in which it is to be seen
The present building is dominated by its grand plain tower of three stages, unbuttressed and without battlements. Much recent repair work has been done by the small worshipping community - only a few years ago, there were worries that the tower was so unsafe that it might fall into the road! The visitor need have no such fears today.
The scale of the porch perhaps prepares the visitor for the spaciousness of the interior of Davidstow Church, which is unusual by comparison with any of the other churches of this Trail - almost all of which underwent restoration in the latter half of the 19th Century.
The Church is dedicated to St David, Bishop of Menevia in Wales and son of St Nun, whose parish of Altarnun is close to hand.
restoration as either 'injudicious' or 'severe'. Though it is true that very
little hint of its past glories is to be found, it remains a fine and
impressive building, with nave, granite arcades to the aisles and west
tower all dating from the 15th Century. Davidstow Church is a
remarkable tribute to the confidence of past and present generations -
not least those responsible for the recent massive repairs; to be thankful
for their enthusiasm and perseverance, and please support them by your
generosity that this church many continue its witness in this place.
Typical of the Victorian period is the carved Reredos (left). Such screens are frequently found behind and above the altar, and many are richly carved and decorated with scenes of Christ's Passion.Restored a while ago but now grown quite a thatch the Holy Well can be found to the east of the church, in a field beyond the Church Hall. It is perhaps more uncommon than beautiful, fairly large, low and broad with rounded back and sides. No particular virtues are ascribed to its waters
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Extracts taken from 'CHURCH TRAILS IN CORNWALL' packs produced by North Cornwall Heritage Coast & Countryside. Original text by Jeremy Dowling