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Cornish Maritime Churches

Cornish Maritime Churches

Jo Esra, Victoria Jenner, Rebecca Orchard and Garry Tregidga (project lead), the Institute of Cornish Studies.

Key findings

  • Explores the history of Cornwall’s maritime churches from the distant past to the present day
  • Combines oral history with the use of film, photography and historic documents
  • Dissemination through an interactive website alongside written publications


Religion and the sea have played a prominent role in cultural constructions of Cornwall through time. These themes are combined in a project that seeks to investigate the cultural heritage of ten coastal churches and surrounding communities from Tintagel in the North East of Cornwall to Paul in the far west. Entitled Cornwall’s Maritime Churches/Eglosyow Morek Kernow, the initiative is a partnership between the Institute of Cornish Studies and the Exeter and Falmouth History Society with a grant of £40,000 awarded in early 2019 from the Young Roots scheme of the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It focuses on Cornwall’s cultural identity with themes including the churches in relation to their communities, changing patterns of work in relation to the sea, religious behaviour through time, ritual, place and the Cornish language, the iconic importance of the sea and folklore for Cornwall and communal stories of smuggling, piracy and wrecking. It focuses on the active involvement of young people both at the Penryn Campus and elsewhere in Cornwall with a training programme on research skills. Funding has been used to create a small team under the supervision of Dr Garry Tregidga with Victoria Jenner acting as digital and youth mentor for the project, Rebecca Orchard as the co-ordinator for the volunteer researchers and Dr Jo Esra advising on research skills and maritime history. A lecture series for both students and the wider community has been established involving key experts from such fields as archaeology, history and heritage studies and findings will be disseminated through a variety of media but with a particular focus on the creation of on online digital trail including a blog and film.

The project is supported by a range of community and educational partners including the Churches Conservation Trust, Cornwall Heritage Trust, Gorsedh Kernow and Truro College. There is a particular emphasis on creating opportunities for creative engagement with the past through a variety of media such as conventional historical research, film, photography, music and creative writing. This is crucial to ensure generational continuity. It is envisaged that the project will lead to the creation of an annual heritage conference for young people that can be eventually extended to other topics relating to Cornwall’s rich history and culture.

»Find out more on the Cornish Martime Churches website