Cornish churches are not simple structures that nestle into the landscape, but complex and little-understood buildings, with many never being completed. The recurrent picture, from some of the best church building accounts to survive in Britain, is that most Cornish churches were building yards when Henry VIII became head of the Church of England and set the Reformation in motion. This makes it hard to find perfect examples for particular architectural periods. Pevsner notes that the vast majority of church fabric is Perpendicular Gothic, with granite the material of choice by the sixteenth century. Tin, trade and farming fuelled this great rebuilding, with 140 of the 209 medieval Cornish parish churches still having Norman architectural features. Earlier Christian memorial stones and churchyard crosses were recycled as foundations. Georgian vandalism of church fabric, especially window tracery, is well documented, though Victorian restorations often went too far in trying to put things right.
In this book author Joanna Mattingly explores a fascinating selection of churches from right across Cornwall in both urban and rural locations. Those featured include all Cornish dendro-dated churches and examples from each of the ten deaneries. From St Allen and St Austell to Tintagel and Truro, the author chronicles many engaging and insightful aspects of the county's ecclesiastical, architectural and social history. Illustrated throughout, Churches of Cornwall will be of immense interest to local historians, residents and visitors to the county.