Historic comments on Lelant

This compilation copyright Maxwell Adams 2005-2012

Version 25 June 2012

The comment is first and is in quotation marks. At * is the source of the comment, along with any notes. The page number at the end of the comment is that in the source.

William WORCESTER 1478
Also known as William BOTTONER

"Informacio Thomae Peperelle de Tavystoke notarii publici...Sanctus Vuy, frater Sancti Herygh, iacet in ecclesiae parochiali Sancti Vuy prope villam Lallant super mare boreale per tria miliaria de Mont-Myghell; eius dies agitur die primo februarii" (page 98).
Information from Thomas Peperelle of Tavistock, a public notary...Saint Uny, brother of St Erth, lies in the parish church near the village of Lelant on the northern coast three miles from St Michael's Mount; his day is celebrated on 1 February.

"Sancta Hya...soror Sancti Vuy" (98).
Saint Ia...sister of Saint Uny.

"Sanctus Herygh, frater Sancti Vuy" (98).
Saint Erth, brother of Saint Uny.

"Itinerarium. Le north see. Villae principales super mare boriale sitae...De Seynt Hyes usque Lananta 2 miliaria. De Lananta usque Redruth borough 8 miliaria (104).
Itinerary. The north sea. The principal villages situated on the northern sea...From Saint Ives to Lelant two miles. From Lelant to Redruth town eight miles.

"Hinc finit Ies havyns de Cornewayles...Item, from Seynt Yves usque Lalant havyn 2 myle. Item, from Lalant havyn to Patystoe havyn..." (105).
Here finishes the havens of Cornwall...Item, from St Ives to Lelant haven two miles. Item, from Lelant haven to Padstow haven...

* WORCESTER William Itinerary A copy is in Supplementary papers at the back of volume 4 of POLSUE Joseph (1872) Parochial history of the county of Cornwall Lake, Truro. The original Itinerary was edited and published in 1778 by James Nasmith from a manuscript in Cambridge University.

In this text the name Lelant is variously spelt.

Worcester's work appears to be written as notes rather than as a continuous text. He came to Cornwall in September 1478 and lists in the Itinerary the places he visited in person: Lelant is not one of them. He seems to say that he got his information about this area from a Devon notary, Thomas Peperelle.

St Uny's day is 2 February. One mile in Worcester is about one and a half miles today. Worcester was born about 1415 in Bristol.

The original is in Latin; English translation by Maxwell Adams.

John LELAND about 1538

"From Mr Godolcan to Lanante a 4 miles. Passage at ebbe over a great strond, and then over Heyle river" (74).

"Heyle haven shoken [choaked] with land of tynne works" (74).

"Heile ryver cummith of 4 principale heddes or brokes; one riseth by south, and other by southwest; another by south-est; the 4 by north-est" (74).

"The shore from S Ive's is sore plagued to S Carantokes with sandes" (75).

"S Erth, a good mile above Lenant. S Erth bridge, a good mile from Lannante, of 3 archis a little byneth the paroche [church?] than stondith on the est side of the haven. This bridge was made a 200 yeres syns, and hath a 3 arches. Afore ther was a fery. Ther cam to this place ons, the haven beyng onbarrid, and syns chokid with tynne workes, good talle shippes" (75).

"The toune of Lannant [now Lelant] is praty. The church thereof is of S Unine. S Fes [St Ive's] a 2 miles or more from Lannant" (75).

"From Lanant to S Justo..." (86).

"Fro Sainct Anne's Hil to Lanant, a village, the contery by the north se ys sumwhat hilly, sanday, and baren, and yn sundery places of the same, wel replynyshed with tynne" (86).

"By Conarton cummith a ryver, cawllid Dour Conor, and goith to the se, not far from Lanant ryver mouth" (86).

"From Lanant by the north se to S Just..." (86).

"In the mouth of the ryver that cummyth by Lanant ys the rokket Godryve wheryn bredeth se fowle" (86).

"By al the north se yn Cornewale be sundry crekes, wher as smawle fisshers' bootes be drawne up to dry land, and yn fayr wether the inhabitants fysche with the same. At Paddestow Haven, Lanant, and S Ives, the balingars and shyppes ar saved and kept for al weders with keyes or peres" (87).

"By the west end of the towne <Marazion> ys a lake, or a rivulus, the hedde wherof risith withyn a myle of Lanant...Betwyxt the hedd of this rivulus and the nerest part of the ryver of Heyle, that cummeth yn to the se at Lanant is not a myle. And the grownd of bred [breadth] between the ful se marke at forum Jovis <Marazion>, and the ful se marke of Lanant ryver, is not ii myles" (86).

* LELAND John (about 1538) Itinerary. A copy as far as relates to Cornwall is in Supplementary papers at the back of volume 4 of POLSUE Joseph (1872) Parochial history of the county of Cornwall Lake, Truro.

The words in square brackets are in the Polsue text.

Spellings as in the Polsue text with Lelant variously spelt.

John NORDEN about 1584

"Uny iuxta Lalant somtyme a haven towne of late decayed by reason of the sands which hath choaked the harbour and buried much of the lande and houses; and manie devises they use to prevent the absorpation of the churche" (100)

* NORDEN John (about 1584) Speculi Britanniae pars: a topographical and historical description of Cornwall cited in POLSUE Joseph Parochial history of the county of Cornwall volume 3, Lake, Truro

This passage appears variously spelled in different books.

John RAY 1662

"Monday June 30 [1662], we rode over the sands to St Ives.

There we saw a church almost quite covered with sand, blown up by the wind; the name is Uny Lalant. Here is a pretty little fortification which they call the castle" (187).

* LANKESTER Edwin (ed) (1846) Memorials of John Ray Ray Society, London.

This comment is from Ray's third itinerary begun May 1662. These were published in 1760 by Scott and were selections from Ray's own journals. The castle is Trencrom hill and hillfort. Ray lived 1628-1705.

John LAWRYES 1683/4

"In all these 3 parysshes there are lodes lyke to ye Iryshe Coppoorurne ur...yn unylelant ther ys one loade yn ye Cliffe bynorthe ye olde Churche"

The three parishes are Lelant, Towednack, and Crowan.

* LAWRYES John, 6 February 1683/84, mining report, CRO ME 2509

Celia FIENNES about 1700

She comments on riding by the sea at Hayle and adds: "Just over against it there was a church which was almost sunk in the sands being a very sandy place."(Through England on a side saddle Celia Fiennes).

This is clearly a reference to Lelant.

Celia Fiennes travelled through England in the last twenty years or so of the seventeenth century and her journal of these travels was first published in full in 1888. There have been several versions published since.

William PENALUNA 1819

Penaluna praises the sights of "the busy picture of Phillack Creek, the deep and capacious bay of St Ives, the distant hills which present themselves to view, the various inlets of the ocean, and the hillocks of sand partly covered with vegetation, and partly exposed to the tempests which assail them" (152).

Penaluna recounts a tradition of a thriving Lelant overwhelmed by blown sand, quotes Norden on this, and adds: "The voice of tradition also reports that the driving of these sands began so suddenly, increased so rapidly, and continued so incessantly, as in the short compass of two nights to bury many of the houses. Some of the habitations have since been found, by men digging in the sand, and in a few instances with furniture in them" (151).

"So lately as the year 1780, the increasing sand threatened the church with a serious deluge. It had arisen nearly as high as the churchyard wall, the boundaries of which in some places were hardly discernible" (152).

"Trevethow...has of late years been almost deserted, the present proprietor residing principally at Tyringham, in Buckinghamshire. A part of the house is occupied by the tenants" (152).

Writing of glebe land overcome by sand, he says: "No more than eight acres are at present capable of cultivation" (152).

"In this parish is a yellow clay, much in request for building furnaces and ovens, large quantities of which are exported to Bristol and Wales, and other places every year. Bricks composed of this clay, at first vitrify in the fire, and run into one solid body; but after this they undergo the most intense heat without any further alterations" (152-153).

Penaluna quotes Holinshed's Chronicles: "the whole coast of St Ives unto Crantokes" is "choked with sand" (128): he presents these as Holinshed's words.

Penaluna says that some Cornish miners work for a daily wage but usually they work on the tribute payment system by which the miners "work for one or two months, at a given price per fathom, forming their judgements from the appearance of the ground when they take their bargains" and "the men receive a given price from the value of all the ore they can raise in a given time" (260).

* The circle, or historical survey of sixty parishes and towns in Cornwall (1819) Printed and published at Helston by William Penaluna.

Penaluna says he compiled this book from other writers' work, corrected some of them, and added "original information" (4). He does not identify the corrected mistakes and original additions. The book deals with west Cornwall not Cornwall generally. The Lelant section is at pages 151-153. I think that his claim of the discovery of furniture in houses buried in the sand is fanciful.

There is a copy of this book at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro.

REDDING Cyrus 1842

"We saw... a group of cottages at Lelant, in the gardens of which the fuchsia and hydrangea seemed to flourish with wonderful luxuriance" (183).

* REDDING Cyrus (1842) An illustrated itinerary of the county of Cornwall How and Parsons, London


" An Old Cornish Church. Under this heading the British Architect contained a series of interesting sketches of Uny Lelant Church from the pencil of Mr T Raffles Davison, who accompanies them with the following pen and ink description-

'A conspicuous object amongst the sandhills, or towans, on the south side of St Ives Bay, is the church of St Uny, Lelant. From certain points on the towans it has a strange air of loneliness and isolation, the one building visible amidst a wide stretch of white sand and waving rushes. The village itself is further inland, and the church looks as though it had alone successfully resisted the depredations of the Danes (for it is supposed some parts remain of Saxon origin), whilst the village had retreated in self-defence. It is said a town has existed hereabouts before St Ives existed, of which the driving winds have buried all present traces. Saint Uny is supposed to have come from Ireland with his sister, St Is , A.D. 460, and settled here.

This old Cornish church, as shown in our sketches, represents the general appearance as consecrated in February, 1421, though the north window in the north aisle and the chancel window are modern (1845). It is characteristic of most churches as now standing in West Cornwall - a nave and chancel with north and south aisles, all of equal height, presenting a long low mass of building with a sturdy tower at the west end, and nearly all of it built in Perpendicular character, is the type usually seen. A door in the north aisle and stairway opening to the rood screen is very common amongst the churches, as at Lelant; the screens themselves only existing in remnants. The northern nave arcade contains an old Norman arch and two round pillars. West of it is an Early English arch cut out of the thickness of the wall, but not formed of arch voussoirs. The arcade piers are chiefly built in that grey granite which sparkles all over with flakes of mica, and has a singularly pleasing effect. Most of the caps have been replaced in a coarsely-moulded pattern, but two or three have the quaint original carving as shown in my sketch. The roofs are of the old waggon style common in Cornwall. The rafters, about 3 ½ in. in thickness, and set 12 in. apart, have curved braces under the collars, and have longitudinal moulded strips fixed across. At the intersections are finely carved bosses, and it appears that a long time since the best of these were moved from the chancel roof to a position over the south aisle, where the squires pew might benefit by them. Every fourth rafter is moulded and carved, and the longitudinal strips and wall plates are carved also; the old Cornish roofs of this kind look exceedingly well, and nowhere can a more satisfactory form be found. Accommodations is provided for about 400 persons.

There was a fairly complete restoration of the church in 1873, at a cost of £1,175, which included reseating and the decoration of the chancel roof. This restoration was done under the superintendence of Mr JD Sedding, who is responsible for much excellent work in neighbouring churches. The church and others hereabouts owe much to the discriminating care of the present incumbent, the reverend RF Tyacke. The three eastern stained glass windows (executed in 1845) are about as bad as any in existence; it would be difficult to imagine a more intensely disagreeable arrangement of colour than the centre one exhibits. Mr Henry Irving is, I suppose, a parishioner of Lelant, as he was born near St Ives, which is a chapel under Lelant. The church has been twice struck by lightning in 1827, when a pinnacle was knocked down and the dado in the chancel set on fire; and 1879, when a pinnacle was again knocked down. If it be desirable, according to Professor Huxley, to terminate the conductors with plates in the ground, the exposed situation of Lelant should claim an early belief in the precaution. In 1538 it was considered dangerous to come to Lelant because of the pirates, but nowadays one can hardly go to a pleasanter place, commanding such beautiful seascape and landscape views. Fortunate is it that some 329 miles intervene between it and London Bridge that so fair a spot may not be overrun and spoilt.' "

* West Briton 13 October 1887 reporting an article by T Raffles DAVISON and JD SEDDING in the British architect and including the text which they ascribed to Davison but which was Sedding's.