POUNDSTOCK, Cornwall – St Neot (Old St Winwaloe). 

Restoration 1896

The Western Morning News of 13 May 1891 carried an article describing the need to get this building restored.  It would seem that the writer had access to the architect’s report, and quoted it directly.

The building has suffered greatly from “neglect, ignorance of architecture, patchwork repairs and hideous additions.”  It is generally of the 15th century work, but there are indications of work of an earlier period.  The font is of the 13th century.  The rood screen, of which the lower portion, with painted panels, alone remains, was probably added in the 16th century.  The walls are now considerably out of perpendicular and bulged and particularly at the east end of the chancel, are in a very bad condition: and the east window has been hacked out, entirely removed, and wooden mullions of the poorest description have been inserted in this and other windows.  The chancel roof has been patched beyond recognition, and the timbers are in a very decayed condition.  The nave roof, internally and externally, is in a very bad state and calls for immediate repair.  Its original barrel form has been entirely lost, and it is bare and unsightly in the extreme.  The fine old tower arch has been, during the last century, entirely blocked so as to form a back to an ugly west-end gallery.  The granite pillars of the arcade are also out of the perpendicular, and covered with 23 coats of whitewash.  The walls beneath the whitewash are evidently covered with coloured fresco work.  The entire absence of any proper drainage and the iron gutters to the main roof cause walls and floor to be very damp.  The seating is of the most inconvenient and poorest description, consisting from the most part of square pews of various heights and sizes, even in the chancel, with seats facing all directions.  The estimated cost of the work is £1,700, not including the restoration of the old screen.  The vestry has accepted the plans of Mr. G. H. Fellowes Prynne, and a faculty for the work has been obtained.  The one aim throughout the plans is to keep all the main features and really good intact, and, when repair is necessary, to carry it out in the spirit and with the feeling of the original work.  The living is a very poor one, the net income at present being only £130.  The population is under 500, and there are no resident gentry.

The Cornish and Devon Post of 24 October 1896 reported on the re-opening of the church following its partial restoration, and the tireless fundraising organised over the previous six years by the vicar and his wife.  But despite their efforts, funds did not permit the full plans to be carried out at this time.

The present work was begun about eleven months ago, and was carried out according to the plans of Mr. Fellowes Prynne, who is so well-known in the West.  The contractor was Mr. Wiffen, of Holsworthy, and the work has been exceedingly well done.  A great deal of Polyphant stone and granite; a good drain has been made round the church; the roof is entirely new and ceiled; the chancel arch and angels being beautifully carved by Mr. Northcott, of Ashwater; the gallery has been pulled down, and so the west end is opened out, shewing a fine granite arch before hidden.  Many interesting old pieces of work have been found.  One old gravestone was used as a window sill, and on turning it round it was found that it had a fine large cross on it, evidently shewing that it was centuries old…

The church’s interior was decorated all over, but only two frescos of interest have been uncovered, which are still to be seen.  It is hoped they will be restored.

The remaining work to the roof, floors and windows was eventually carried out, along with the restoration of the screen.  Much of the old woodwork, which had been stored pending the completion of the restoration, was re-purposed in the choir stalls and other furniture.

The work was carried out by V. Witten of Holsworthy.

The postcard, posted in 1907, shows the chancel screen to good effect, as well as the barrel roof and its wood carving.