The Revd David Keith Barnes
The Rectory, The Glebe, Week St Mary, Holsworthy, EX22 6UY
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01288 341670
Marhamchurch is predominantly a rural parish of farming and tourist accommodation with the Church in the centre of the village square.
Since the closure of the village shop and Post Office, efforts have been made to open a community shop to replace them.
The Bray Institute, belonging to the church but leased to trustees, is used for functions such as the Harvest Festival Supper and the Annual Church plant Sale and also recreational activities including coffee mornings, Brownies, a drop in centre for the under 18, Line Dancing and later this year the first stage play by travelling actors.
The Revel Field, in the centre of the village, is a well-equipped recreational area. A Revel event takes place there annually.
As the name of the village suggests the Grade 1 listed church occupies a prominent hilltop position in the very centre, surrounded by pretty houses and cottages. The present local stone and granite building dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries but there has been a succession of Christian places of worship near this spot since the fifth century. Marwenne, daughter of the Christian king Brychan, came from Wales to “West Wales” as Cornwall was then called, and brought Christianity to the Celtic people at least a century before St Augustine brought it from Rome to Canterbury.
Marhamchurch is believed to be right on the western border of the intrusion by the Saxons into Celtic land. A keen observer will note English derived village names to the Northeast and Tre-, Pol- and Pen- to the Southwest. Even the tumultuous events of Henry VIII’s Reformation and the later Civil War had little effect on this parish when the Rectors concerned both retained their jobs throughout those periods! For loyalty to the Royalists King Charles II awarded the village the plaster coat of arms now hung in the nave.
Visitors will have already opened the magnificent original 15th century oak door and cannot help but notice that the floor on which they now stand is made from tens of thousands of pieces of slate on their edge. The older north aisle has unusual monolithic granite pillars dividing it from the nave and its medieval roof still has beautifully carved angels at the base of the rafters. Also not to be missed is the carved Jacobean pulpit and the ancient cresset stone beside the tower arch which once provided candle light and an element of warmth to the congregation. The tower contains a peal of 6 bells, mostly made by Rudhalls in 1772 and still rung every week.
Stealing a few words from the Rev’d Dunsford’s more detailed 1970’s booklet: “As you leave the church there will meet your eye, framed in the doorway of the porch, that marvellous panorama of hills and valleys: and ever in the background, the murmur of the sea.”
Please pause and reflect that this same view has provided peace and understanding to countless souls for the past 15 centuries and hopefully for many years to come.