St Sennen

The chancel furnishings described below are attributed in guide books (e.g. Sennen, 1954) to Miss Pinwill of Plymouth, although only the pulpit is recorded in the photographs at PWDRO. Beacham & Pevsner (2014) describes the work as ‘a fine ensemble’ (Ibid. p. 614).

Pulpit – Photographs (PWDRO 116/82 & 244/2) R.F. Wheatly architect; 1930

This ornate pulpit bears the figures of St Sennen, St John the Baptist and St Nicholas, the patron saint of fishermen and children, and is surmounted by a border of intertwining fish, crabs, lobsters, seahorses, and seaweed. A faculty petition for the erection of a carved oak pulpit was submitted in 1929 (CRO D/R 7/47) and by September 1930 the imminent arrival of the work was reported in the Western Morning News (1930). The pulpit is in memory of the Revd John Isabell, a former Rector, and his wife Mary, and was erected by their American nephew Adrian H. Courtney.

Sennen Choir Stall Angel
Angel on Choir Stalls at Sennen

Altar Rails and Choir Stalls – Guide (Sennen, undated) Pinwill & Co. carver; 1939

According to a recent guide, the chancel at Sennen was entirely refurbished in 1939 following a bequest from John Harris Saundry (died 1935) and provided with a new floor of granite and slate, altar rails, choir stalls and panelling. However, the panelling is contiguous with the reredos and it seems likely that it was installed at a later stage, as suggested by Beacham & Pevsner (2014). The choir stalls bear an inscription in memory of John Harris Saundry and feature typical Pinwill semi-kneeling angels in various poses. The backs of the clergy stalls echo the pulpit with more seaweed and fish designs. Faculty plans for the altar rails and choir stalls were submitted in August 1937 (CRO D/R 124/1-2). Working plans by R.F. Wheatly exist for the choir stalls (CRO AD889/33), which were dedicated by the Bishop of Truro in June 1939 (Cornishman, 1939). Altar gates were added later, which would account for an attached plate in memory of someone who died in 1949.

Altar, Reredos and Panelling to N and S – Guide (Sennen, 1954) Miss Pinwill carver; 1953

Beacham & Pevsner (2014) also states that the altar and reredos were installed in 1953 and assume that the adjacent panelling was also of this date, which seems logical. The early guide (1954) states the following:

‘The shallow carving on the reredos did not show up well and on Miss Pinwill’s advice has been gilded with gold leaf. The scenes are of the lifeboat going down the slip with cape Cornwall in the background, the fishermen sharing out the mullet catch, the mullet seine with one big fish, the farmer with his plough, and the fishermen making their crabpots. On the Altar itself is carved the Crown of Thorns, a Cross, and the Chalice and Paten… All the carving is of good, seasoned oak. Miss Pinwill’s carving may be seen in many Cornish Churches.’


Beacham, P. & Pevsner, N. (2014) The Buildings of England. Cornwall. Yale University Press, London.

Cornishman (1939) Sennen Church Choir Stalls. Dedication by Bishop of Truro. 22 June p. 9.

CRO AD889/33 Plans. Sennen. Choir Stalls.

CRO D/R 7/47 Faculty Petition. Sennen. Pulpit.

CRO D/R 124/1-2 Faculty Plans. Sennen. Choir Stalls and Altar Rails.

PWDRO 116/82 Photograph. Sennen. Pulpit.

PWDRO 244/2 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

Sennen (1954) St Sennen Church: situated one mile from the Land’s End in Cornwall, the Bolerium of the Romans.

Sennen (undated) Sennen Parish Church Guide.

Western Morning News (1930) New Pulpit for Sennen Parish Church. 30 September p. 4.