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The High Altar, St Laudus



The Lady Chapel, St Laudus

The earliest record of a church on the site of the parish church is 1309.

In the period since, St Laudus has been through four major stages of development. What one sees today is the medieval structure, which subsequently underwent a Victorian ‘makeover’ and to which some modern interior facilities have been added.

Cornwall experienced four great ages of church building. First, during the Age of the Saints (AD 500 to 600) there was the building of crude oratories (small chapels). The second age involved the Norman Lords (and their successors) rebuilding those oratories so as to make them suitable as churches for their tenants. Third, the century preceding the Reformation (which occurred in the 1530s) there was a great wave of church enlargement led by the people themselves. The fourth and last great age of church building coincided with the religious revival of the 19th century, which led to the wholesale restoration of Churches.

Nothing is left of the early medieval building of St Laudus (i.e. pre 1430), which probably consisted of a nave (the main part of the Church where the people sit) and a chancel (where the choir sits). However, in the latter period (1430 to 1530), the St Laudus church was extended (in the perpendicular style) using mainly granite quarried from the uplands of the Parish, although in some parts finer stone was used.

In 1866 the church sustained significant damage resulting from a lightning strike. Thereafter, in 1870 the church underwent a complete restoration in which much of the north aisle was rebuilt, and the wood of the roof replaced. 

The present building consists of a nave and a chancel with two side aisles, a western tower and a south porch.

It should be noted that for many hundreds of years Mabe parish was joined to Mylor Parish.  However, the relationship was not characterised by equal status for the two parishes - Mylor was deemed the more important of the two. As a consequence, Mylor parish eclipsed Mabe with the effect that it was not until 1308 that the first written record of Mabe parish appeared:  

On March 8th 1408(09) the parishioners of the Chapelry of St Laudus near Penren in Cornwall (Capella Sancti Laudii) determined to lay their grievances before the Bishop of Exeter.  …their chapel had been dependant on the Mother Church of Mylor from time immemorial, and as a consequence it had no cemetery of its own. They had to take their dead all the way to Mylor for burial a good four miles, no easy matter with bad roads and  constant floods. They entreated the Bishop to come and consecrate their cemetery. (from March 9th 1309 parishioners in Mabe obtained the right to bury their dead in their own consecrated Church yard).

Mabe Church Menhir

The earliest record of Mabe Church is 1309 AD. The high altar is dedicated to St Laudus, a French saint, who was made Bishop of Coutance in Normandy in 525 AD. The church is situated on a
pre-Christian pagan site and there is a Menhir, dating back 3000 to 4000 years within the churchyard. It is believed that the first church on the site was established as a retreat chapel for the monks of Glasney College in Penryn, which was built in the thirteenth century by Archbishop Bronescombe. Glasney included a huge church, and was an important centre of learning at which the Miracle Plays were written. In 1548 AD, during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the College was sacked.

The church and its churchyard occupy a plot that extends to just over ¼ acre. The churchyard contains a menhir and several gravestones that are of historical significance. In 1988 the church and several nearby structures became Grade II listed buildings and monuments. 

These include:

  • The chest tomb and three headstones to the Rail Family located 8m (26ft) southwest of the church.
  • The chest tomb that adjoins the church’s north wall, consisting of a slate lid, that is otherwise buried.
  • The cross located approximately 1m 93.3ft) southwest of the church’s porch.
  • The headstone located approximately 3m (9.8ft) east of the church.
  • The 1774 granite headstone dedicated to “MH” (located 0.5m (1 ½ft) south of the church
  • The stone monolith probably dating back to pre-Norman conquest of England (located approximately 10m (33ft) south of the church tower
  • The Wills family granite headstone slab circa 1840, located 4m (13ft) south of the church