17 May 2010


Lanherne is the ancient house of the Arundell family, which, in the Middle Ages, was one of the great Cornish families who dominated and administered the Duchy. It was Sir Humphrey Arundell who, in 1549, led the 'Prayer Book Rebellion', the great Anglican Catholic insurrection against Cranmer's Prayer Book, which marched beneath the banner of the Five Wounds. A throne nearly tottered; the government of Edward Tudor survived only by the use of a mercenary army and what historians have termed a genocidal series of massaces throughout Devon and Cornwall. Sir Humphrey was executed in London on January 27, 1550.

So it was interesting to find, in the Parish Church, a fine pulpit bearing the 'Arms of Christ', the Instruments of his Passion and the shield of the Five Wounds. These motifs are found throughout the South West, especially in the large number of surviving medieval bench-ends. What was different about this pulpit was that it was distinctly Renaissance in style, and dated - I know not upon what evidence - to 1553. Such a dating would indeed fit that magical five years in which (see Duffy Fires of Faith) it appeared that Marian England would be in the forefront of the Counter-Reformation, leading Europe in Catholic Renewal, in sound Patristic teaching, in priestly formation; as well as being in the artistic mainstream. This glorious but frustrated spring was so brief that it is always fascinating but poignant to find surviving relics of it. And especially in a spot like Lanherne.

So did we follow this discovery up by going into the Manor House for tea with the Arundell family? We did better than that ... Continues.

1 comment:

JamesIII said...


I am curious about the obscure architectural term, 'Belle Arundell', that (if memory serves me) is an elevated walkway crossing just above the chancel gates or screen. Does it have its roots in a specific piece of medieval church design from that region?