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Celebrate the project!

Eglosyow Morek Kernow 
Cornwall's Maritime Churches

A quick note from our Project Manager, Vikki Jenner...

"The project is now coming to an end rather sadly, however we have a wealth of great material and research that we would love to share with you. So please do join us for our final online event where we'll hear from some student volunteers and community participants! This will then be followed by a three-part documentary produced by the project that will be live streamed every Friday evening for the next three weeks..."

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What is our final round table event?

The round table event on Thursday will celebrate all the achievements of the project. From an interactive map illustrated by Falmouth student, Selina Jenner, to an illustrated story-book put together by Student Coordinator and former history student, Lucy Geal.  
Hear our Keynote Speakers!

Keynote speakers will include Dr Garry Tregidga (Director of the Institute of Cornish Studies), Dr Jo Esra (Lecturer of Maritime History) and Charlotte Harries (Former President of the History Society).
Overall, the round table will celebrate new cutting-edge research that sheds light on some obscure and rural churches across Cornwall, whilst celebrating Cornish identity and language.
What’s more, the film series and articles online examine how far religion and the sea have played a prominent role in cultural constructions of Cornwall through time. Ten churches have been especially investigated by volunteers for their cultural identity in relation to their communities and for their connections to changing patterns of work in relation to the sea, religious behaviour through time, ritual, place and the Cornish language, the iconic importance of the sea and folklore for Cornwall and communal stories of smuggling, piracy and wrecking. The result of these investigations today is a full profile online which can be found by selecting the animated churches on www.cornishmaritimechurches.co.uk  

Event Schedule

6.30pm – Introduction given by the Project Manager, Victoria Jenner 

6.40-6.50pm – The importance of researching Cornwall’s Maritime Church history with Dr Garry Tregidga and Dr Jo Esra 

6.50-7.10pm: Volunteer stories: Hear from the experts and student volunteers 

7.10-7.25pm – ‘What is a Maritime Church to you?’ Reflection session with members of the community and participants 

7.25pm – Thanks and details regarding the project’s Film Premiere series taking place Fri 29 Apr – Fri 14 May 2021, YouTube LIVE. 

Register your place through Eventbrite here >
Listen to Victoria Jenner's radio interview with Tiffany Truscott on BBC Radio Cornwall, where she talks all about what the Cornwall's Maritime Churches Project has achieved.  

Tune into our 3-part documentary series

Watch the full trailer here for 'Exploring Cornwall's Maritime Churches' 
Entitled ‘Exploring Cornwall’s Maritime Churches Project’, the series examines maritime history of Cornwall in an entirely new way, using ecclesiastical records and the fabric of churches located by the sea to tell unknown narratives.  
Read our Film Press Release >

The first episode sets the scene, demonstrating the extent to which Cornwall is renowned for its folklore. Rather than discard stories that seem ‘nonsensical’, this episode attempts to unravel some of Cornwall’s magical places – such as St Nectan’s Glen, Tintagel, Padstow’s Doom Bar and Zennor. By recognising how far the sea and the church not only influences but often sits at the heart of famous myths and legends, historians can decipher why mermaids, giants and chivalric knights have emerged from certain places. What’s more, an important characteristic of Cornish folklore is the fact that stories travelled by early Celtic traders and pilgrims and were retold by Cornish storytellers, otherwise known as droll tellers. To further celebrate this narrative, the film includes a variety of folksingers from Cornwall today, from the well-known Harry Glasson to an all–female acapella group ‘Figurehead’ and two Penzance-born sisters, Martha and Rosa Woods. 

The most important aspect of the first episode resides in its ending, which takes an alternative look into how many tales travelled the Atlantic as a result of Cornwall’s participation in the slave trade. Dr Richard Anderson, Lecturer in Colonial and Post-Colonial History, discusses at Penryn’s St Gluvias Church, how evidence such as graves and ecclesiastical records can reveal much about the African diaspora in Cornwall, from as early as the Tudor period. The research of Dr Charlotte Mackenzie is also particularly interesting here, who has made direct parallels between Sir Rose Price of Trengwainton Estate and Charlotte Brontë’s characters in her novel ‘Jane Eyre’. Undergraduate students such as Yaz Fosu and Natalie Wragg further discuss the notion of identity in Cornwall’s past and present and why it is imperative to not rose-tint these particular narratives of Cornwall’s past. 

This first episode will be aired on Friday evening at 6.30pm on the Institute of Cornish Studies YouTube channel. Registration details are below.  

Register for the LIVE premiere this Friday >
The second episode takes a closer look at specifically how fishing, trade and ship building has contributed to Cornwall’s local distinctiveness and its sense of place – as well as their activities in smuggling. Victoria first follows in the footsteps of some post-war authors, William Sydney Graham and Daphne Du Maurier, in search of how work and the sea has inspired their writing. A number of different perspectives bring sea-trade to life. From former fisherman, Robert Williams at Porthleven who discusses traditional fishing practices, to Dr Helen Doe, historian and honourary research fellow for the Centre for Maritime Historical Studies, who discusses shipbuilding at Polruan’s Lanteglos church.

Here is again another fascinating and unique link to Daphne’s Du Maurier’s novel The Loving Spirit, whose main characters were inspired by Helen’s boat-building ancestors. This episode is especially moving in places which delves into people’s personal connections to their local maritime churches, and how in turn, these churches reflect their stories – either through their architecture (like St Anthony of Roseland’s upturned ship roof) or their decorative arts (St Bartholomew’s rood screen and carved benches). At the core of this episode is ultimately the celebration of Cornwall’s distinctiveness and the revival of the Cornish language, discussed by Dolly Pentreath’s memorial outside St Pol de Léon’s church at Paul.  

This second episode will be aired on Friday 7 May at 6.30pm on the Institute of Cornish Studies YouTube channel.

The third and final episode devotes itself to examining how shipwrecks have been a serious reality for mariners and the Cornish people for hundreds of years, and how the church landmark has either stood as a helpful marker to save lives, or to facilitate illegal smuggling activities. The first scene however deals with how certain locations in Cornwall experienced shipwrecks more than others, just as certain districts have benefited from the harvest of wrecked goods. Victoria examines two particularly dangerous locations around the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, first walking along Gunwalloe’s Church Cove to discuss the sixteenth-century wreckage of St Anthony, a Portuguese merchant carrack that was the property of King John III of Portugal. An evocative tribute to the wreck and church is embodied through a poem, ‘Church of Storms’ written by 15-year-old Lucy Whatley last year on behalf of the heritage project. It is narrated by voice actor, Issy Inchbald, and brought to life with powerful music composed by Nerys Grivolas. What’s more, today’s methods of exploring wreck sites are captured as Victoria takes a shot at freediving with Sam Gill, Founder of Behaviour Change Cornwall, a Looe-based company that engages in active methods of cleaning local waterways and protecting sea-life. Mark Milburn, Owner of Atlantic Scuba whose enthusiasm for underwater archaeology is also discussed, showing unseen footage of parts of the Schiedam’s carronades.  

The second part of the episode challenges why maritime churches have preserved the remains of broken up ships, questioning whether the display of these wrecked vessels is this a form of commemoration to the many lives lost. Lecturer and host of the ‘On the Hill’ podcast, Dr Sherezade Garcia Rangel, importantly talks of how churches and cemeteries close to the sea become the focus for commemorating the loss of those in shipwrecks, and even rescue missions, before and after the Burial of Drowned Persons Act 1808 came into being. The act meant that any unclaimed bodies of dead persons cast ashore from the sea should be removed by the churchwardens and overseers of the parish and buried respectfully in consecrated ground – a result of the wreck of the Royal Navy frigate HMS Anson in Mount’s Bay in 1807. The psychology behind collecting pieces from wrecks is another strand that Victoria taps into, looking at two very different public collections at the Admiral Benbow Pub in Penzance and the Shipwreck Treasure Museum in Charlestown. The fact that the wrecker emerged as someone who was less than human – a ‘folk devil’ – through its representation in the press, the public pronouncements of the clergy and the didactic function of the novel, is a compelling case and ties together the overarching theme throughout the three episodes about cultural constructions of Cornwall.   

This final episode will be aired on Friday 14 May at 6.30pm on the Institute of Cornish Studies YouTube channel.

Tune into BBC Radio Cornwall on Thursday 13 May to hear all about the making of the 3-part series 'Exploring Cornwall's Maritime Churches'
Do you have a favourite maritime church? Perhaps you've done some research and would like to publish it in some way. 

Although our project is coming to an end, our website will still remain active and monitored. Please do send any article ideas that you would like to add to our blog page to Victoria Jenner.

Contact: 
vj225@exeter.ac.uk
Read our blog articles >
Register for the Round Table event >
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