St Mellanus Church

Image courtesy of Mattana

In Brief

 Religious attraction
Suitable for: Churchgoers and fans of the unusual
Address: 2 Churchtown, Mullion
Price: Free, although donations are welcomed
Dog friendly?: Ask ahead if you want your pooch to try that dog-flap!

The village of Mullion on Cornwall’s Lizard peninsula houses a particularly old building. And that be its 13th century St Mellanus Church. Substantially rebuilt in 1500, the church and its surrounding graveyard have been at the dead centre of the village for around 700 years. There are some wonderfully twee features dotted in and around the main building alongside some notable examples of traditional carpentry and craftsmanship that would make even Jesus proud.

The highlights to see at St Mellanus Church, which is not far inland from the fab Mullion Cove National Trust attraction, begin at its entrances. The studs in the north door are made of oak rather than iron and are thought to date back as far as the 11th century. Above the same door is a Royal Coat of Arms in plaster that is said to have been bestowed on the church by King Charles II when he popped into a service during a stay at nearby Erisey Manor House.

But it’s at the other end of the building where you can find its most unique feature. The south entrance’s ‘Dog Door’ was designed to allow farmers’ sheepdogs to leave. It literally sits at the foot of the main door like some kind of medieval cat-flap. For dogs.

Another highlight here is the craftsmanship that is visible on the old oak pews, which are reputed to have been carved from wood that was taken from the forest that once covered nearby Goonhilly Downs, now home of the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, a large and important radio communication site. The pews themselves depict events such as the crucifixion and characters like Pontius Pilate and Judas Iscariot. Fitting for its location, eagle-eyed carving spotters can also find an image of Jonah inside the whale.

There are more unusual features at St Mellanus Church under foot, as well as above. The floor is made of lime ash rather than stone using methods that have long been forgotten and the roof is supported by corbels carved as angels. In fact, there’s so much going on in here that you could happily spend an hour or so wandering around to pick out all of this unique church’s oddities. Leave by the human’s door, though.