(St Denis) Welcome to the only place in Cornwall beginning with the
letter 'O'. In 1311, Sir Simon, Rector of this Parish said " the river
Ottery takes its rise in this parish and flows to Canworthy Water and so by
Yeolmbridge to the river Tamar.
Trevalga a plain and simple church in a peaceful
setting overlooking the river Ottery valley from which Otterham gets its
name. Otterham, consisting of 3262 acres 68 of which used to be Glebe land
has always been a farming area; from the Doomsday Book where Othram Manor is
mentioned as being one of the 288 manors in the County, which were given by
William the Conqueror to his half brother the Earl of Morton to the present
day trend of fewer yet bigger farms.
'This church, in the taxation of Pope Nicholas, 1291, was valued at £#163;2 by the name of
Otham - Tonkin'. The Rectory was valued in 1601 at £6 14s. The present Rectory built in 1856, became a Youth Hostel, then a private house when Otterham Church joined with Warbstow in 1927 and later Davidstow in 1940.
The patron saint of this church is St Denis, the French saint. No one knows how or when this came about because the medieval dedication has not been unequivocally established, but Denis looks possible from 1613 and he has certainly been regarded as the patron saint since 1739. In 1878 the parish feast was held on the last Sunday in October, which is now known as the Revel Sunday.
On entering the church (thought to be of Norman origin) by the South Porch the arch into the Nave rests on Norman Imposts with four, four centred arches of granite. There is a small North transept, which was removed in 1850 due to dilapidation and the arch filled in, the North wall was largely rebuilt.
The West Tower is of three stages, and is finished with battlements and stump pinnacles; it was rebuilt in 1792, is approximately 40 feet high and contains three medieval bells two of which have legends on them in Old English characters, and the other is quite plain. They were last re-hung and the tower restored in 1952. Up until his death in 1999 aged 88 years, a previous Churchwarden chimed all three bells, one in each hand the third with his foot. Sadly the bell frame now needs restoring again and the bells cannot be rung.
A quote from Church records circa 1888 '...a further sum of £95 has been paid or promised towards the restoration of the Church which is in a deplorable condition, and quite unfit for Divine service...'.
And another quote from the Cornish & Devon Post May 24 1902 - 'Thirty years ago Otterham Church was known as one of the most dilapidated in the Country. All the windows were lying on the ground and stories are told of the sexton who had a weakness for poaching and who, while he dug a grave, locked his greyhound in the building tied to the pulpit. Cattle are said to have resorted on hot summer days to the shelter of the aisles and the old sexton had also seen people open their umbrellas during a service to keep off the wind and rain. The Church is now in a very different state of repair, Today efforts continue to raise funds for still further improvement.
The list of Vicars from 1278 hanging in the church above the font. John Braddon held the position for 54 years during the which the Civil war occurred and he submitted to the rule of Parliament and took the covenant there by receiving payment from the County Committee for doing additional duty in livings near the his own.
Within the Tower is a fine slab monument on the wall to Alice Griggs 1684, which was found under a seat.
On the north wall (shown Left) is another to Joan Moyes 1722. Affixed on the south wall is a very fine slab (shown on the right) to Mary, wife of Abel French with a Coat of Arms, and yet another to the French family is broken and fixed to the wall outside the church.
Click image to enlarge
This led to a severe restoration during 1889 - 1890 costing £600. This
consisted of part rebuilding of the outer walls of the south aisle, nave,
chancel and south porch, re-roofing and refurnishing the Church. It was
rebuilt upon the old foundations and much of the old granite works were
re-used in the new building. Much of the old woodwork went missing but some
can still be seen in some of the furniture. The only other Norman stones
(apart from the font bowls) are some strips of chevron moulding built into
the wall of the porch.
An oak altar, seating in pitch pine, ceiling panelled and a vestry provided in 1902 for the costing sum of £80!! The harmonium dates back to 1884.
Vicars no longer hold their positions for life and from 1974 Otterham Church has been lined with the Boscastle Group of Churches - Davidstow, Forrabury, St.Juliot, Lesnewth, Minster and Trevalga. The Reverend Christine Musser is the Priest in Charge of all these Churches and lives at the Rectory in Forrabury. The Seaside Parish as seen on Television.
The upkeep of this beautiful and peaceful Church is the responsibility of this small community. Any donation you could make to help preserve this piece of our heritage will be greatly appreciated.
When visiting please park at the church as village
roads are narrow and local farmers have difficulty passing with their
tractors Thank you.
Why not visit web site: www.otterhamandstjuliothall.org
Extracts taken from Bude Library; Courtney Library Truro; Cornish and Devon Post, and Church Log Book.