ST. MENEFREDA, ST.MINVER

St. Menefreda Church exterior

Our Parish church is dedicated to Saint Menefreda (which is the origin of the present name St. Minver). She is thought to have been one of the 24 children of St. Brychan. The saint herself probably came here in the 6th century, a time of Christian missionary expansion from France through Brittany and Cornwall to Wales and Ireland.

The wise early Christian missionaries did not make a clear break with the old religions but attempted gradually to assimilate and change the old beliefs. So in some districts Christian churches were built on the sites of pagan altars. It is reasonable to suppose that St. Menefredaís church is an example. This is based upon the discovery, in the oldest part of the churchyard, of crude slate coffins believed to be evidence of pre-Christian burials, possibly of the same date as the kistvaens on Dartmoor.

First Christian Church.

We know that a church stood on the present site in late Saxon times. It is surmised that the earliest church built here would have been made of wood, but it appears that this was replaced by a more substantial structure. Careful observation of the interior dimensions of the church will show how it has been built up from the original structure.

Norman Church.

St. Menefreda Church interior

We do not know when the wholesale reorganisation of the English Church initiated by King William 1 reached this county. The first written records to survive are dated 1255. In that year William de Sancta Menefreda did homage to the Prior of Bodmin. St. Menefreda is the mother church, and the chapels of St. Michael at Porthilly and St. Enodoc at Trebetherick are both mentioned. The church and the chapels contain much 13th century work. In St. Minver the octagonal slate pillars and the arches of the North aisle are Norman. The granite pillars and arches of the South aisle date from the 15th century, when the church was enlarged. The tower and spire were there before this, but became dilapidated and were rebuilt in 1875. The porch was built in the 14th century and probably rebuilt in the 15th. The waggon roof of the porch, and the carved bench ends date from this time.

Bench Ends and Belfry Screen.

Bench end 1Bench end too

The bench ends in the centre area of the church date from the 15th century. The subjects are mainly secular but one appears to represent Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, another Henry VII. The huge variety of these rich carvings are worthy of close study. At the west end the belfry screen is all that remains of the carved and gilded chancel screen. It was probably moved from its original position at the Reformation, and the remaining section placed in its present position just over 100 years ago.

Vinegar Bible.

The parish has three copies of these famous mis-prints (dated 1717). These Bibles have the famous misprint in the page heading of chapter XX of St. Luke which reads The Parable of the Vinegar instead of The Parable of the Vineyard. As the Printerís name was John Baskett and there were many other misprints in this edition it has been called "a Baskett full of errors." They can be viewed by arrangement.

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