Invisible chapels, invisible saints

We try to set a purpose for some of our walks, and the other day we set out for Millbrook with the aim of finding the chapel shown on the map.

Insworke is the least visually appealing part of Millbrook, so we were intrigued by the idea of a ruined medieval chapel. The map is not terribly clear about exactly where it is, though there are some clues in the street names, such as Old Chapel or Manor Way. We had to ask twice and once you get there, all you can see is a dilapidated roof. There is no way into the field where it lies, and a plethora of signs saying ‘private’, ‘no entry’ at the entry to the lane alongside the field.

The chapel is listed and a scheduled monument which is under the care of Historic England: see here for more information It seems a great shame that there is no access to it. One wonders how it is being used at the moment. It has been a barn in the past.

Our second chapel was not the aim of our walk a few days later. Now that we can drive to take our walks, we were extending our coverage of the south west coast path by walking from Looe towards Polperro. Shortly after you leave the road which is part of the coast path at Hannafore, you come across this intriguing notice.

There is very little to see at the site, but you can walk around the floorplan, being blown crazy, and imagine the life of the one or two men who lived here, possibly hankering for the relative sophistication of the mother house at Glastonbury! This chapel, and the remains of another on Looe Island itself, were investigated by the Time Team and you can watch the programme here

The second part of my title is ‘invisible saints’. We don’t know the dedication of Insworke chapel; we do know that the Looe chapels were dedicated to St Michael. But further along the coast path (we still haven’t quite made it to Polperro!) is Talland, a beautiful and interesting church which I want to see again when it’s re-opened. Talland church is dedicated to St Tallanus. Another Cornish church dedication to an unknown (to me) saint. Straight on to to find a book on Cornish saints….but when The Cornish Saints by Peter Berresford Ellis arrived this morning, no St Tallanus.

It appears that the saint’s name is most likely a back formation from the place name, a combination of Tal, which means ‘brow of the hill’, and Lan, a ‘holy place’. So much for the martyred Roman soldier I had been speculating about. See here for a little more:

So there we have it – invisible chapels, unknown and non-existent saints. But a beautiful and interesting church to return to, for the starting point of the next leg of our slow walk along the coast path.

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