Poughill Church – Services and Regular Events:
We are an evangelical Anglican church in the village of Poughill on the edge of Bude, North Cornwall. As well as worshipping in Church, we meet together in smaller groups for social occasions, in youth and children’s groups, and for prayer and Bible study. We try to support each other in our faith and in our day to day lives. We don’t have all the answers but we are on a journey of discovery – growing to know God and what it means to follow Jesus Christ in the 21st century. Do join us – we love meeting new people, so visitors are especially welcome.
A brief history of Poughill Church:
The parish church of Poughill can be found at the heart of the village; it is dedicated to St Olaf, King and Martyr, who is reputed to be the Norwegian King and so-called Martyr, St Olaf (Olaf II of Norway). Much of the church building dates from the 14th century, but at the restoration in 1928 the foundations of the original Norman church were uncovered; however nothing of this remains above ground. It was probably originally cruciform, but in the 14th century a narrow north aisle with an arcade of Caen stone was added. A south aisle seems to have been intended, but only the eastern bay was built. This was completed in the 15th century in granite and the chancel of the north aisle was widened. The piscina and aumbry in the south chancel are 13th century.
Poughill is famous for its splendid carved oak bench-ends. On entering the building an immediate impression is created by the magnificent pews and bench ends, the old communion table and the officiant’s desk facing the people, which is a seldom found survival of earlier times. The deeply carved oak bench-ends date probably from the time of Henry VII (1485-1509). Many have emblems and scenes telling, in minute detail, the story of the passion. The other shallow and less expert carvings date from the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1(1558-1603). They are less numerous and are mainly armorial carvings or the sacred initials I.H.C. The Oak Communion Table, probably dates from Edward VI’s reign and was substituted for the altar according to the Royal Order issued in November 1550 for the entire removal of altars in churches, and setting up tables in some convenient part of the Chancel instead. Its simple style and small size (before a new and enlarged top was put in in 1941) may be due to the practise of moving the table into the body of the chancel in the days of Puritan ascendancy.
The Font dates from about 1400. The four pillars of cateucleuse stone are modern. An older font, also of granite is probably Norman.
On the church walls there are two frescoes, which date from about 1470, and depict St Christopher: they were discovered in 1894 beneath the whitewash. Such paintings were once common in churches; the Poughill accounts record the washing-out of the figures in 1550 at the time of the Reformation. According to the legend, St Christopher was a heathen giant who, on turning Christian, was instructed by a holy hermit to carry travellers over a dangerous ford, and who, one stormy night carried the child Jesus on his shoulder.
The Royal Arms (1655) in raised plaster over the Vestry door, date from Charles II’s reign. His initials C.R are in the upper corners. Charles I’s original Letter of Thanks (1643) had been painted on the church wall. Now only the copy hangs in the church. He thanked his Cornish subjects for their loyalty and efforts in the Civil war. Against overwhelming odds at the Battle of Stamford Hill the Parliamentary forces were routed. This battle was fought on the outskirts of Poughill on 16 May 1643. Each May, on the closest weekend to the anniversary, there is a two day re-enactment of the battle, fought over the Saturday and Sunday, together with a procession through the streets of neighbouring Stratton village.
The Pulpit was carved by a parishioner about 1880 from an oak beam taken from the old Church house building (opposite the church, and converted into dwellings). In the time of the Reformation, the pulpit probably stood in the middle of the chancel.
The Church retains its late 15th Century wagon roofs, and, except in the chancel and porch, the plaster panels remain. The carved roof bosses of wood are a feature of the Westcountry, stone roof bosses are common elsewhere. The Vestry door was once the entry to the former winding stairway to the rood loft over the former screen, which once extended right across the Church.
The Tower is of perpendicular style, 14th Century with embattled, crocketted pinnacles, and built of granite. It contains a peal of six bells; none, however, of great antiquity. Beneath the tower there was formerly a singing gallery on pillars, put up in 1779, and occupied by a band of instrumentalists and singers before the days of harmonium or organ. This was taken down in 1860. The screen was erected in 1969.
Just inside the church building, over the main entrance is the Sir Goldsworthy Gurney Tablet. It records the fact that the clock was placed in the Tower in memory of Gurney, whose success in speeding communications brought about the adoption of a Standard Time throughout the country. This occurred only last century; until 1852 Exeter clocks showed local time.
The massive oak door dates from the 15th Century, with its original iron work, and huge wooden cased lock. The modern oak door dates from 1971. On the east side of the door is the holy water stoup, but the basin has been renovated.
The Porch, is perpendicular in style, retaining its original 14th century, stone benches on either side. Formerly it was largely used for secular business.
The Lytch Gate was rebuilt in 1897, but the former gates with their ancient ironwork are preserved in the tower.