We have some amazing history right in our midst. St Sampson’s Church is a grade one listed building and contains many hidden gems. Some are visible and many are recorded in the history books. One of the factors making St Sampson’s significant, is that the area in which the present church stands may have been one of the earliest centres of Christian worship in Cornwall. It is a place of spiritual focus, with a Christian community believed to have been worshiping here for over a thousand years. It is also a place with much historical interest and it still draws people through its doors enveloping them in that special serene embrace, which many people experience. Take some time out to experience it for yourself. The church is unlocked during daylight hours. Have a wander around the grounds and inside the church, below are some things to look out for.
As you enter the churchyard look to your left. The standing stone at the entrance to the churchyard is over 1400 years old and is one of the oldest known memorial stones in the UK. It is believed to commemorate a man named Cumregnus, who probably lived in this area in the 6th century. There is a very early Christian symbol carved on the stone. See if you can spot it.
If you have good eyesight, or a long lens on your camera, look up as you approach the church. Around the top of the church tower are 12 little carved figures, believed to represent the disciples of Jesus.
Inside the church you will see the font, where perhaps you or your children were baptised? It is older than the church building and came from an earlier Norman church, built on the site about 200 years before the existing church. It has a round bowl on a central shaft with four columns topped by carved heads, look carefully and you will see the tree of life and assorted animal decorations.
On 2nd April 1826 a baby by the name of George Symons was baptised in the font at St Sampson’s. At the age of 30 he was one of the first people to be awarded the Victoria Cross for ‘conspicuous gallantry under terrific fire’ during the Crimean war.
Walk up to the chancel near the altar and discover two tomb recesses, with beautifully detailed carved heads that you won’t be able to resist tracing your fingers over. We don’t know who they were. Does anyone have any information?
Everyone probably knows that the Cornish anthem ‘Trelawney’ was inspired by the imprisonment of Bishop Jonathan Trelawney in the Tower of London in 1688. But a little known piece of Cornish history is that he began his career here at South Hill, as Rector of St Sampson’s church.
There is more information on the table to the right of the door as you enter St Sampson’s. There is also an opportunity for you to offer or ask for prayers. If you would like others to pray for you please leave your requests in the basket on the prayer table near the front and members of our church family will pray for you. Do take a prayer card home with you. Please sign the visitor book and leave your comments, we are always delighted to know about your visit.
We are still in discussion about our vision for St Sampson’s, about making it warm and dry with kitchen and toilet facilities and enabling it to be accessible to more people for many years to come. Whatever we do, it will add to the character and specialness, of this wonderful place, not take it away.