Thursday, 7 September 2017

St Senara's Church,The Zennor Mermaid and Crosses .. Cornwall pt 5

When we arrived in Treen on Saturday afternoon, we carefully parked the car close to the garden wall ensuring that there was not an enticing gap left between it and the wall. The gap needed to be suitably small to deter any passing cow - on its way to the local milking-shed - from squeezing between the car and the wall, damaging the vehicle or worse itself.

Cottage and Car, Treen

We had envisaged a week of mainly walking, and the cottage's location gave easy access to the local network of footpaths incl. the coastal path for the majority of our explorations.

As such it wasn't until the Thursday that we finally ventured out under petrol power and in doing so - headed across the headland to Zennor.

St Senara's Church and Graveyard Cross

The Zennor Parish Council has an excellent website which describes all things local and of interest to both tourists and those chasing nearby stones and legends: Zennor Parish Council

St Senara's Church at Zennor stands within a pre-Christian footprint - it's circular graveyard over lies Iron Age boundaries, which in turn straddle even more ancient boundaries dating back to the Neolithic (ibid). The current Norman church is thought to probably stand on the site of a 6th Century chapel (MacNeil Cooke, 1996; Cornwall Guide 2018) .. the founding of Christianity in Cornwall being eloquently styled on the Zennor Parish Council website as: "Christianity came to Zennor when the Age of Saints followed the fall of the Roman Empire."

In the Churchyard stand at least three ancient Crosses, the first of which greets the visitor as they step through the main entrance to the church, the other two adorn the grave of the Cornish Antiquarian, William Borlase. There are also other interesting Celtic style crosses within it's confines.


Crosses - William Borlase's Grave

The Church is famous for it's association with the story of the Mermaid of Zennor, and the chair within comprising of two carved wooden medieval pew ends - one of which contains the image of the Zennor Mermaid herself.

The Mermaid of Zennor

The second wooden pew end appears to the untrained eye to be decorative rather than symbolic in meaning. I suspect it gets far less attention than it's more glamorous counterpart? I have included it below for the purpose of completion.

For a fuller description of the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor I will return again to the excellent Zennor Parish Council website: The Mermaid of Zennor

It was probably the local Church guidebook that drew our attention to the lone stone craving of a head which adorns the external south eastern corner of the Chapel entrance. If I remember correctly it is the only carving on the whole of the outside of the building? I can find no reference to it otherwise - and simply wish that I had purchased a copy of the guidebook - it would have been more than useful in the writing of this Blog entry!


MacNeil Cooke, I. (1996) 2nd Edition Mermaid to Merrymaid Journey to the Stones Cornwall Litho Redruth

Cornwall Guide (2018) ONLINE Zennor Available at: Retrieved 7th Jan 2018