St Meubred’s Church
The Parish Church of St Meubred in Cardynham dates back to about the 15th Century , and is dedicated to an Irish missionary who came over to preach to the moorland folk but ended up being beheaded in Rome. His body was later returned to the Parish and buried here; there’s a 14th century Easter sepulchre or Meubred’s tomb with niche above in the chancel.
The Church, which was damaged by German bombs that were intended for Bodmin during World War II, contains some fine bench ends including the arms of the local Glynn family – a five pronged eel spear – and a colourful Glynn monument of 1699 at the east end of the south aisle. There is an unusual 15th Century brass plaque dedicated to one of the earliest Rectors – Thomas Awmarle. The charming inscription translated says “I ask you, brothers, to pray for me and I will pray for you as much as I can”. There is also a letter of ca 1660 from King Charles I to loyal Parishes painted on boards, and one of the best plaster Royal coats of arms in Cornwall of 1661. The churchyard contains two particularly fine Cornish crosses, one of which dates from the 8th Century. Further information can be found here.
Photo: Peter Claridge
Walk into St Meubred’s church and you might think that nothing much had changed since it was last rebuilt in the early 16th century. You would be wrong. Lakes parochial history of Cornwall which can be borrowed from Bodmin library, was originally published 1867-73. Part of its description of Cardynham church goes:
“the tower arch is blocked by an unsightly singing gallery. The chancel is wainscoting with oak panelling behind which are sedilia… the head of a large Maltese Cross and an ordinary wayside cross are walled into the east end of the church.”
The “unsightly singing gallery” was a “west gallery.” These were constructed in many
churches in the 18th century for a choir to lead the singing. Victorians disapproved of the
Georgian galleries and most were removed during 19th century restorations. In the 18th
century and until around 1850, the only hymns sung in the church of England were metrical settings of the psalms like “All people that on earth do dwell.” The choir often sung in parts and were accompanied by instruments like the violin, cello, clarinet, flute and bassoon. Fashions change, the organ became popular to accompany singing. Church singers were more expensive than a single organist and the vicar found them more difficult to control. As services became more ceremonial under the influence of the Oxford movement, church bands were considered irreverent.
Who was responsible for the end of church band and west gallery at Cardynham? The gallery was evidently still there in 1873. Was it Charles John Hughes D’Aeth rector 1873-1890 or his successor Francis Paul James Hendy 1890-1895? When did the wainscoting go? It isn’t there in an early 20th century post card of the church. Of course the 2 crosses in the east wall were dug out and are now in the churchyard. The “Maltese Cross” is our wonderful 9th century Cardinham cross, considered one of the best in the country. The ways we think it right to worship God have changed but the psalms the west gallery choir sang were composed in ancient Palestine and are still used in our church at Cardynham today. The God we worship is the same throughout all time.
St Meubred’s has become the first Cycling Church in the UK. Early in October 2017 Bishop Chris of St Germans dedicated the newly installed Cycle Prayer Station which has been gloriously decorated by pupils from Cardinham Primary School.
St Meubred’s Church especially welcomes cyclists and walkers who are enjoying the delights of the surrounding countryside. People are invited to bring their thoughts and prayers to the Prayer Station by tying ribbons to the bicycle or writing on and attaching luggage labels. The original idea came from a member of the congregation who sadly lost a close friend who had been passionate about cycling. More details on the Prayer Station can be found here