Building » Mawnan Smith – St Edward

Mawnan Smith – St Edward

Old Church Road, Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

A comparatively large church given its isolated village position, built in 1964 from designs by Waldo Maitland and similar to his slightly later church at Helston. The large west window by the Harry Clarke studio is of some note.  

In 1952 Canon George Ford became parish priest of Falmouth. Bishop Grimshaw authorised him to say Sunday Mass in the Mawnan Memorial Hall, but this proved inadequate, especially during the holiday season. In 1962 Mrs Alice Pilgrim, who lived nearby at Nansidwell, offered a site for a church to be built in memory of her late husband, Edwin. Building work on the new church began in April 1964. The architect was Waldo Maitland, a Catholic architect practising in Falmouth, who went on to build the churches at Helston and Truro, as well as the chapel at Tremough Convent, Penryn (now part of a university campus). The contractors were Gray Conoley and Co. of Falmouth, and the total cost of construction was £14,200. The church was opened by the bishop on 19 December 1964.


The church is of blockwork construction, externally rendered, with white painted pebbledash on a low stone plinth, under a steep roof clad with concrete tiles. There is a coarsed rubble flat-roofed porch with a large window over, its pointed apex following the form of the roof pitch. There are small diamond-shaped openings on either side of the porch; otherwise the only natural light to the building is from the dormers (with uPVC windows), four on each side, and some taller lights on the south side of the chancel, located over a flat-roofed sacristy.

The porch leads into a narthex divided from the nave by a glass screen, and then into the main body of the church, consisting of a single volume, lit from the sources described above. In the northwest corner beside the narthex is a small baptistery. The bays are divided by portal frames of laminated pine, with plastered and painted wall surfaces between – white in the nave and red on the east wall of the narrower chancel. The altar is of Cornish granite and was presented by the Catholic Women’s League of Falmouth. A canopy with a green and white chequerboard pattern hangs over this, and a crucifix is mounted on the east wall. The blacksmith of Mawnan Smith, Dryden James, made the altar rails. The large stained glass window of St Edward over the narthex at the west end was given by Mrs Pilgrim in memory of her husband, and is by the Harry Clarke studio,Dublin. The font is still in its original location at the west end, and was provided by his family for the baptism of Mark Pilgrim in 1965. A statue of the Sacred Heart outside the church was given by the Daughters of the Cross when they sold their convent at Tremough, near Penryn.

Heritage Details

Architect: Waldo Maitland

Original Date: 1964

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed