Saint Tallanus' Church,
Talland
Cornwall
 


drawing of Talland Church by Frederick T.W.CookThe Celtic Church in Cornwall

Long before St. Augustine came to Canterbury in 597AD, Jesus Christ had been praised in these parts of Cornwall. Trading cloth for Cornish Tin, merchants from the Lebanon and the holy Land brought faith in Jesus Christ to these shores centuries before the Holy Roman Empire. Isolated by its geography from the rest of Britain, Cornwall escaped much of the influences and ravages of the Romans, Danes and Saxons. So a pre-Augustine Celtic Church became firmly established with roots not in Rome, but in the Middle East, if not the Holy Land itself.

There was a great surge of faith during the fourth and fifth centuries as many Welsh and Irish saints settled along the Cornish estuaries. Many place-names owe their origin to these Celtic saints: Gwinear, Mawnan, Phillack, and St. Winnow, for example. The most famous of these saints are perhaps St. Petroc, who landed at Padstow, and St. Piran of Perranporth. The Cornish Flag, a white cross on a black background, depicting the light of Christ triumphing over evil, reminds us of those vibrant, ascetic saints, with their disciples gathered around them under a simple monastic rule, who shone like sunbeams through the dark clouds of fear, disbelief and despair.

It was not until 930AD that Cornwall finally came under Saxon rule, and the independent Celtic Church became merely a Diocese under the Archbishopric of Canterbury. The Saxon King Athelstan set the scene for much of the later history of Cornwall, and therefore of Talland - firstly by appointing Conan, a Cornishman, as the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Cornwall at St. Germans, and secondly by reducing the power of the Cornish Chieftan Kings to mere Lords of the Manor. In this way, the local manors mentioned in the Domesday Book, now called Kellow, Killigarth, Raphael and Portlooe, were established.

Talland's Celtic Origin Talland Church seen from the Tencreek footpath

The Church at Talland is dedicated to St. Tallanus - the name of the hermit who made his home here sometime in the fifth century AD. The name "Talland" is thought to be derived from this name, although it is suggestive also of the Cornish "Tal Lan" which means the Holy Place (lan) on the brow of the hill (tal). As the Church is on the side rather than the brow of the hill, this may be just coincidence.

The church as we see it today was not built to serve a large community, but to maintain a holy site where the Christian faith had been established in Celtic times, over fifteen hundred years ago. This explains why it is so isolated from the busy centres of population at Looe and Polperro. So, like the church at Lansallos and many other Cornish churches, the present Altar stands on the site of the original Celtic Altar built by the Saint, the Holy person who established faith in Jesus Christ here so long ago. We know this because such people always built their Altars on ley-lines, so consecrating these earthly forces to God. The fact that this altar stands on one of these is proof of its ancient foundation. Another is the stream which runs down the hill outside the church - for Celtic churches are always near a source of fresh water which does not dry up, even in a long hot summer! The churchyard seat with the best view in Britain!

One unusual feature of Talland Church is the detached bell-tower, joined to the Church in the fifteenth century when a coach-house roof was built beteen the doors of the church and the tower. There is an active ringing team who use the peal of six bells to full effect, and who regularly ring for services. There are some exquisitely carved pew-ends in the Church, as well as many other features of note - a fuller guide book to Talland Church is available at the church, or by sending a stamped, addressed envelope with the correct postage (for 100g) and a money order, cheque or UK stamps to the value of 1.00, to the vicar (details below)

Worship at St. Tallanus' Church

The Parish Eucharist is celebrated on Sundays at 11.00am, and there is a regular midweek celebration on Thursdays at 9.30am. Additional services are held in the parish on Saints' Days and Holy Days, and there is an Ecumenical Healing Service jointly with the Methodist and Roman Catholic congregations each August. See the Parish Diary for up to date information.

Also in the parish of Talland is the chapel-of-ease, St. John the Baptist, Polperro. The Eucharist is celebrated on alternate Sundays at 9.00 am, with Evensong every other week at 6.30pm, and additional celebrations of Saints' and Holy Days. See the Parish Diary for up to date information.

 

 

The Priest-in-charge of Talland, who also has the parishes of Pelynt and Lanreath, is
the Rev Linda Smith

Trelawne Glebe, Looe Trelawne, Cornwall PL13 2NA
Email: trelawnevicarage@ukonline.co.uk

 

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