St Sidwell and St Gulval, Laneast, Cornwall

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Feature Sets (2)


The northern half of the cruciform Norman church remains, although much rebuilt; the E window of the N transept retains its original jambs and sill, and inside arch. The font is the only Romanesque sculptural feature.


Laneast was founded as a chapelry by the Augustinian Priory of Launceston and St Stephens-by Launceston, the original priory church, remained its mother church until the Reformation, as it did of many other churches in and around Launceston.





Of Purbeck stone, in the nave beside the W pier of the S arcade. The bowl is in the shape of a cushion capital with corner heads, the sides bearing six-pointed stars in circles surrounded by snakes with a head at each end. This bowl, however, has three unusual features: one corner head is replaced by a long oak leaf; the top border is chip-carved with four-pointed stars (or saltires) in a band separated from the corner heads and side carvings by a roll moulding; and it is not square [see dimensions below]. The basin is circular. The octagonal stem has a roll moulding at the top, but is square at the bottom; the step is modern. 

Depth of basin 0.26 m
Diameter of basin 0.53 m
Diameter of bowl (E-W) 0.76 m
Diameter of bowl (N-S) 0.67 m
Height of bowl 0.56 m


Sedding suggested that the missing corner head could have been due to a flaw in the stone or an accident by the mason; and that perhaps the block of stone had been so damaged in transport that he could not make the font square. Certainly the situation of the village would have made the delivery of such a stone extremely difficult, just as it made burial of the dead a grim chore for the villagers, who were until 1436 compelled to use the cemetery of St Stevens-by-Launceston.


  • P. Beacham and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cornwall (New Haven and London 2014), pp. 268-69.

  • C. Henderson, The Cornish Church Guide (London 1925), p. 103.

  • A Complete Parochial History of the County of Cornwall, vol. III (Truro and London 1870), pp. 1-3.

  • N. Pevsner and E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Cornwall, 2nd ed (Harmondsworth 1970), pp. 88-89.

  • E. H. Sedding, Norman Architecture in Cornwall: A Handbook to old Cornish ecclesiastical architecture with notes on ancient manor houses (London and Truro 1909), pp. 188-90.

Exterior, N transept, E window.
Interior, N transept, E window.
Nave and font, general view.
Exterior, from SE.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SX 228 839 
now: Cornwall
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Cornwall
now: Truro
medieval: Exeter
medieval: St Sativola and St Michael
now: St Sidwell and St Gulval
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Richard Jewell 
Visit Date
14 Apr 1990, 25 Aug 1991