Finding St Enodoc Church, Trebetherick, North Cornwall, is not straightforward – but well worth the effort! Walking from Polzeath or from the carpark at Daymer Bay (much nearer!) a small signpost, which is almost hidden, indicates a narrow winding path, shaded and almost overgrown by trees. This leads out to the open spaces of the Church course of St Enodoc Golf Course with views down to the sea and the River Camel estuary. The path turns and continues up a slight hill to the church gate.
The arched stone lych gate is a fitting forerunner of the main building, with a central ‘bench’, ready to act as a rest for a coffin (and perhaps pall bearers), before it’s taken into the church for a funeral.
Although the church is thought to date from the twelfth century, a twentieth-century addition is proof that the the building is still in use. The Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, is buried here, St Enodoc being a church that he frequented when he was in Cornwall. In fact he wrote a poem about it – ‘Sunday Afternoon Service at St Enodoc’. The Gothic Textura lettering is surrounded by an exuberance of flourishes by the letter cutter Simon Verity. It really is a tour-de-force!
But this isn’t the only flamboyant tombstone in the churchyard. This nineteenth century gravestone for John Randall has just about every typeface ever designed on it! It is not easy to make out due to the wear and tear but it is a marvel of creativity and skill.
It is thought that St Enodoc (or Guenedoc) was Welsh and that there was some sort of wooden church at this point from the third century. Sand dunes move and indeed this church was buried for some three hundred years until it was restored in the nineteenth century. It is said that services continued to be held during this time, and that the vicar and congregation were lowered in to the church by a skylight in the roof! Here it is very clear how easily the church may have been covered by sand; the back and side wall round the corner are almost buried.
And to the left is a celtic cross, the carving of a cross is faint but can be seen. The shaft is rather slender and looks a little too fragile to support the large circular top. It was found during the nineteenth century restoration and renovations to the church.
Once inside the church there is the magnificent stone font, made of granite and dating from the twelfth century. There is twisted cable mounting on the support of the bowl, and the bowl itself is lined in lead.