Forrabury (St Symphorian) Of the two churches which serve Boscastle, the one at Forrabury, high on the bare hill south of the village, is not as easy to miss as Minster, tucked in the woodland of Valency Valley. Of all the thousands who visit the picturesque harbour, the only shelter for miles around on this forbidding but beautiful coast, few climb the hill through the old village, its streets reminiscent of Clovelly, with the deep storm water drain running perilously beside the narrow road. But both the village and the church are worth a visit, showing a different side of Boscastle life to the business of the harbour area. By road, follow directions for Tintagel then turn right after leaving the village behind.
There was a church at Forrabury in Norman times, but little of that remains to be seen today, because in 1687, in response to a need for extra seating (which makes encouraging reading) the church, apart from the tower, the south side of the building and the porch were rebuilt, at a cost of £320. The north transept of the original cruciform church was extended to form the present north aisle, and the vestry was added to the south transept. Whilst such a massive rebuilding clearly altered the character of the old church, there are interesting reminders to be found of its earlier history.
The church is dedicated to St Symphorian - a little known Saint in England, but many churches are dedicated to him in France. It may be that he was familiar to the Bottreaux family, (Boscastle is a corruption of their name). They came over with William the Conqueror, and built Bottreaux Castle - which was in a commanding position just below the Methodist Chapel. The Saint came from Autun, in Burgandy and was beheaded in A.D. 282, when still young, for protesting against the worship of the goddess Cybele.
Entering the church, both rebuilding and origins are
immediately obvious. The old mediaeval benches have all gone (though
fragments form key features of the church) but the remains of the Norman church are clearly to seen in the south wall of the nave and the south
transept - look for the plain round, Norman arch. Forrabury has an
immediately homely, lived in feel, appropriate to a church which has played
so significant a part in a thousand years of history of Boscastle.
The chancel floor, panelling, altar rails and screen were were installed in 1911.
The church at Forrabury speaks of much history, and the changing fortunes of the village through the years. If you want to know more, purchase the interesting leaflet in the church. Please help the community to continue to maintain this place that God may continue to be known and worshipped here.
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The Lectern from which the Bible is read, is typical of many found in this shape of an eagle. the eagle is the symbol of St John the Evangelist whose words in the Book of Revelation "soared up into the presence of Christ". In mediaeval times it was believed that the eagle renewed itself by flying into the sun.
Not all of the mediaeval woodwork was lost: some can be seen forming the altar, pulpit and credence table. Five fine panels form the altar front. The centre panel shows the Lamb and Flag over the letter M, probably the monogram for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Next to it are emblems of Christ's Passion.
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Extracts taken from 'CHURCH TRAILS IN CORNWALL' packs produced by North Cornwall Heritage Coast & Countryside. Original text by Jeremy Dowling