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Trevenson church - modernity passes by

One of the many bridges that takes the A30 across the undulations in the Cornish landscape is almost adjacent to the squat, neat form of Trevenson church. Neither the raucous roaring of motorbikes or the drone of car tyres can impinge on the peaceful enclave here, and it's likely that the majority of the motorists that go zooming by are not aware of this little corner in an urban area, which preserves the character of the earliest nineteenth century.

This precinct of historical Pool extends not only through the area covered by the church and church yard, but also takes-in a pretty, low-slung rectangular building to the north, built as a stable and vestry facility for the church, adapted to a charitable school by Lady Bassett in 1844, and now re-purposed as accommodation for small businesses - wonderful! Circular, spoked windows - doubtless inspired by the cartwheels of the day - and the iron-stained local volcanic stone from which it is built give it a 'hobbit'-like character. The ferrous staining positively glows in the late afternoon sun. Juxtaposed between the old (churchyard) and the new (an expanse of tarmac belonging to the adjacent secondary school), the building sits confidently, as if content with the many phases of repurposing in its long history; the burgeoning businesses who rent here have made an inspired choice of location!

Mature trees along the perimeter of the church grounds with the passing road create an impression of seclusion. The tower of the church - added at some mysterious later date than when the body of the church was built in 1809 - is home to a clock mechanism, though the immediate environs near the church feel timeless.

The same russet, glowing stone as used in the former stable-block was used to construct the body of the of the church: the near-spherical shapes of little gas-bubbles in the once-mobile rock can be elucidated on the surfaces where the rock has weathered in the 210 years since it was constructed, financed by the local, wealthy Bassett family. Evocatively, one can think of these gas-filled holes being cut as the rock was hewn for its purpose, releasing gases trapped within from 260 million years ago, when Devonian-age volcanics were active in the area. History in the air we breathe! The world has changed so much since this stone was formed, weathered, quarried and laid, yet its obvious strength as a sparkles in the afternoon sun speaks also of continuity and stability.

The cooling afternoon light reveals an interesting feature: the tower of the church is made from a different stone to that of the main building. As mentioned above, the church tower was added after 1809; it was present by 1890, when it is seen in an early photograph, and it is intriguing that a different source of stone, dressed granite, was used for this addition rather than the local 'Tolgarrick' stone used elsewhere. The variety of colours and textures of the two stones adjacent to one another is quite pleasing, though, and adds to a sense of the change and development that this area has undergone, from the earliest times as a rural community, through the industrial incursion as the intensity of mining increased during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, and to the post-industrial environment of today.

One of my favourite perspectives of the church here is the view from the sturdy, assured lime set just to the north of the church building. Its girth is sufficient to suggest that it may have been planted here at the time when the church was built, and its domed canopy of branches extends almost as high as the tower. The tactile, smooth bark is ridged and crumpled where some of the larger arms extend from the main bole.

A sense of continuity and harmony pervades the area here, and the peace of the church precinct is punctuated by passing traffic just 50 m away, but not perturbed by it. As I leave the church area, I feel refreshed by the tenacity of this little corner of history that sits within the urban setting.

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