A month ago, I spent a day in north Cornwall, a glorious sunny day in early October, one of those bonus days that has to be made the most of. We headed in to Boscastle, but so did everyone else and with nowhere to park we gave that up as a bad job and went instead to Tintagel. I was already rather poorly by then, and was shocked by how rough I felt after walking just two miles along the cliffs, but finding the gem that is St Materiana’s Church made it worthwhile.
Built between 1080 and 1150, St Materiana’s stands high above the sea on Glebe Cliff.
The church doesn’t look particularly interesting from the outside, a typically dull Saxon building, and a sign warning you to keep off the grass because of adders doesn’t help!
The area around Tintagel is believed to have been evangelised by a princess of Gwent, St Madryn, around 500 AD. It’s likely that Madryn and Materiana are one and the same. It is thought that the church is sited on ground that was previously a Celtic oratory, served by monks. Between the 5th and 7th centuries it was used extensively as a Christian burial ground.
Inside the church there is a pre-Reformation altar and a Tudor bishops seat.
Apparently it’s Norman, and it’s believed to have come from the chapel, St Julietta’s at Tintagel Castle, across the cliffs. Whatever it’s origins, the font and the church are ancient, a trace from the past, for Paula at Lost in Translation.