Building » Helston – St Mary

Helston – St Mary

Clodgey Lane, Helston, Cornwall

A post-war church, one of three in the diocese by the Falmouth-based architect Waldo Maitland, well built and fit for purpose.    

Mass was celebrated in various hotels and halls in Helston from the 1920s. The need for a purpose-built church increased when the Royal Navy, Fleet Air Arm came to the area, and in 1953 a three-quarters of an acre plot was acquired on the edge of town in an area then undergoing expansion. The parish hall and presbytery were built first, the former doubling up as a church until the new church was built. The foundation stone for this was laid by Bishop Cyril Restieaux on 2 August 1967 and the church opened the following year. The architect was Waldo Maitland, responsible also for the churches at Mawnon Smith and Truro (qqv).


The design bears strong similarities to Maitland’s earlier church at Mawnan Smith, although it is larger. The church is externally rendered, with a low stone plinth, and there is a steep roof clad with concrete tiles. The centre of the entrance façade projects forward of the flanking bays, and has a central entrance with small windows on either side and a group of three windows with pointed apexes above. The church is lit by paired windows in the side walls, and there is a large window opening in the eastern bay. The east wall is plain and windowless, and there is a flat-roofed sacristy on the south side of the east end.

The entrance leads into a narthex with an organ and choir gallery over. The main church interior consists of a single volume. The bays are divided by portal frames of laminated pine, with plastered and white painted wall surfaces between. At the west end of the nave, placed centrally against the narthex, is a small sunken baptistery, with a granite font with circular bowl on a tapering stem placed centrally within an hexagonal, blue mosaic-lined area.

In the sanctuary there is a plain forward altar and behind this a tall polished pine boarded reredos rising the full height of the centre of the east wall, in which is set a recessed housing for the tabernacle, with a crucifix and small pine canopy above. There is a modern stained glass window in the large window openings on the north side of the church depicting the Risen Christ, and in the west window a depiction of Our Lady.

Heritage Details

Architect: Waldo Maitland

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed