The approach that I first took when I explored Treleigh Church remains my favourite one: through an industrial estate, along an anonymous by-pass, and then a sharp turn left in to the green, peaceful embrace of the churchyard.
Treleigh Church sits on a local rise just a mile or so from Redruth, and is unusual in two respects - the first, that its existence is the result of one man's energy and determination. Rev. Manley, laid to rest just along the main path to the church door, was the motivating force behind raising the funds for the church building to be erected, and in acquiring the land where it stands. As the population of the area grew throughout the 1850s, the former blacksmith's shop at Treleigh mine which had been used for religious services, was no longer sufficiently capacious for two-thirds of the congregation.
Fund raising for a new church building began in 1864, and the land required for the new church building, churchyard and vicarage - a total of around 3 acres - was donated by landowners, including the Roberts family from Lanhydrock, and the Williams family residing at Caerhays Castle. From a series of events organised by Rev. Manley, including a public tea, a bazaar and concerts by the Redruth Choral Society, he was responsible for raising an impressive 900/1300 % of the cost of the new church.
The second reason that Treleigh is unusual - though not unique - is that the church itself is surrounded on all four sides by the churchyard. The older graves are to the south and west, with monuments to more recent burials to the east and north. Hence, when standing near to the church building, one feels encompassed by myriad stories of parishioners over the last 150 years. The canopy of leaves from the mature broadleaf trees here - sycamore, oak and an ageing yew tree - conspire to add a sense of enclosure and security to the setting.
Four of the former vicars of this parish are buried here, too: Rev. Manley, mentioned above, was the vicar here from 1848 until his death in 1886); John Trounsell Mugford (1902-1922) was a Priest from 1874, headmaster of Newquay Grammar School from 1875 until 1887, and was then Vicar of Lanteglos-by-Fowey, in east Cornwall, for fifteen years, before coming to Treleigh; Rev. Horace Wilford travelled widely - including stints in South Africa and Canada - prior to coming to Treleigh in 1927, and was the Chaplain to Tehidy Sanatorium simultaneously, until his death in 1932; and Rev. Arthur Hawthorn is also buried here, having worked in various capacities in London (including the Chaplain of HM Prison at Holloway for two years) before coming to Treleigh, and having extensive involvement in community roles, before he passed away in 1958.
Rev. Hawthorn's resting place Established trees dominate Rev. Trounsell Mugford
at the east end of the church. the churchyard - beautiful. is laid to rest here.
Given the dedication of these Vicars to the community they served, it is fitting that they are buried in the peaceful enclave of this churchyard, alongside the parishioners they helped through difficult times in their lives. Miners killed during the course of their work; women who died during childbirth, and young children whose lives were undoubtedly shortened by illness or infection that today could be fairly simply treated. In looking around the stories here at Treleigh, we can gain an insight in to a close knit community wrought by difficulties, but buoyed by the shared experience of life in this once-rural setting.