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This watercolour preparation study of St Enodoc Church, Cornwall is 29cm x 17cm signed, and mounted on acid-free card.

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Painting Cornwall

Sometime ago whilst on a visit to Cornwall I took a bit of a pilgrimage to the church of St Enodoc in Cornwall. I knew about about the 6th Century welsh hermit that lives in a cave on the site of the church, however this was not the reason

I trekked across a blustery golf course to this remote site. I was here to visit the last resting place of the great English poet Sir John Betjemin.

Sir John Betjemin

From a slow start, this shy man was to become poet Laureate of The United Kingdom. I love his deceptively simple verse and that he worked tirelessly to preserve the architecture of the UK after WW2, when the wrecking ball destroyed far more that the Luftwaffe ever did. His greatest achievement was to save gothic revival railway station St Pancras in London.

Where would The Hogwarts Express be without St Pancras station?

He wrote about St Enodoc in his famous poem Trebetherick, this being the village where he lived and where St Enodoc church is situated.

Then roller into roller curled

And thundered down the rocky bay,

And we were in a water world

Of rain and blizzard, sea and spray,

And one against the other hurled We struggled round to Greenaway.

Blesséd be St Enodoc, blesséd be the wave,

Blesséd be the springy turf, we pray, pray to thee,

Ask for our children all happy days you gave

To Ralph, Vasey, Alistair, Biddy, John and me.

About St Enodoc church

As mentioned there has been a place of worship on the site since the 5th century although almost all what we see today was built in the 15th century. From the day it was built however, blasts of the North Atlantic began to assault the church with great gusts of sand. So by the 16th century the battle to clear way the sand was all but lost and only the roof and the wobbly spire were sticking out of the dunes. Locally it was known as “Sinking Neddy”.

Of course, with all the doors covered its use as a church became ever more difficult. The parishioners were reduced to have one service a year by lowering themselves through a hole in the roof. Even this service was only held to maintain the ancient tithes.

Salvation came in 1864 when the church was dug out of the sand and surrounding dunes stabilised. They cleared enough of the dunes to make the church serviceable again though did not level the surrounding ground it so from a distance it still looks buried.

Painting St Enodoc church

You enter the church cemetery via a small stone gate house and Betjemins ornately carved slate gravestone is on the right. I paid my respects to the great man and made my way up to a bench which afforded me a view of the top of the church with Daymer Bay beyond. I painted this picture here, remembering to put in Stepper Point navigation tower on the far headland.

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