St Symphorian

Veryan Altar
Altar at Veryan

Altar – Photograph (PWDRO 116/114, 244/1, 244/4 & 244/5); 1915

In a letter in support of a faculty petition in 1934 for the items below, the Revd Gerwyn Rhys refers to the main altar made of oak (CRO D/R 12/46) and his remarks are most interesting:

… it is not a success – in fact it and its surroundings are hideous; but the Altar was put in as a Memorial some years ago by a family who show no sign of developing any artistic sense, and therefore we are helpless in the matter. The Altar was made by Miss Pinwell [sic] of Plymouth, and when she was down the other day she herself declared that it was out of place, and that she was only too thankful that she had in no way been responsible for the design and general effect.

The altar is similar to several others made in the Pinwill workshop for Cornish churches, with a Celtic cross in the centre and some decorative carving, but otherwise plain. It is by no means ‘hideous’ and it is rather surprising that Violet Pinwill was willing to criticise the design, although Revd Rhys may have been putting words in her mouth for the sake of the point he was making (see below). The guide (Veryan, 2013) states that the altar was given in 1915 by Mrs Braund in memory of her husband.

Restoration of Side Chapel

The faculty petition in May 1934 mentioned above (CRO D/R 12/46) was for the restoration of a side chapel at the east end of the north aisle. Mrs Tribe of Barn Cottage, Veryan, offered to restore and furnish the chapel in memory of her husband Dr Alfred Gladstone Tribe (died 1928). Revd Rhys, in consultation with Mrs Tribe, decided that granite was the most suitable material for the chapel altar, following what he saw as the lack of success of the one in oak in the sanctuary and because ‘with an oak Altar there would be a need for silk hangings etc, which in years to come would have to be replaced, perhaps by people of doubtful taste and limited means’. The Diocesan Registrar attempted to dissuade Revd Rhys, as stone altars were not encouraged, but the faculty was nevertheless issued a few months later. Accompanying the faculty petition was a sketch by Snell & Sons of Newlyn, sculptors in stone, of an altar with fine-dressed granite mensa supported by octagonal pillars.

Parclose Screens (2) – Photograph (PWDRO 116/83) V. Pinwill designer; 1935

Panelling – Plan (CRO D/R 12/46) V. Pinwill designer; 1935

Included in the faculty petition for the restoration of the chapel was a plan by Violet Pinwill for parclose screens and panelling. The plan shows limited detail of the decorative parts of the work but the parclose screen is recognisable as the one illustrated in PWDRO 116/83 and those now in place in the church. The panelling, however, is not represented in the photographs at PWDRO. It is very plain with only a carved border highlighted in gold and turquoise and gilded cresting above the central portion. The guide (Veryan, 2013) states that the restoration work took place in 1935.

Altar Rails (2 pairs) – Hedges (2005); 1930s, probably 1935

The altar rails in the sanctuary and in the chapel are identical in design (although the former are wider) and may well have been made by V. Pinwill. The chapel rails were probably part of the restoration work of 1935 and it can be assumed that those in the sanctuary are contemporaneous.

Organ Screen – Hedges (2005); 1930s

Prior to the restoration of the chapel, this was where the organ resided and it was necessary to move it to its current position in the south transept (Veryan, 2013). While it is possible that joiners employed by the Pinwill company assisted in the repositioning and fitting of the organ, the lack of any carving on the case suggests that no new work was carried out.


CRO D/R 12/46 Faculty Petition. Veryan. Restoration of Side Chapel.

Hedges, M. (2005) Ron Dustan, Woodcarver in West Country Churches. Dartmoor Society Newsletter 22, 14-19.

PWDRO 116/83 Photograph. Veryan. Parclose Screen.

PWDRO 116/114 Photograph. Veryan. Altar.

PWDRO 244/1 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

PWDRO 244/4 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

Veryan (2013) Veryan Parish Church. A History.