Building » St Mawes – Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Anthony

St Mawes – Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Anthony

Grove Hill, St Mawes, Cornwall

A stone chapel built for the Bible Christians in 1875, sold for Catholic use after the Methodist union. The interior is plain and simple, and the primary interest of the building lies in its external design, particularly the striking shaped gable of the front elevation.  

The church was built for the Bible Christians, an offshoot of Methodism founded in North Cornwall by William O’Bryan, a Wesleyan preacher. The Bible Christian Church spread nationally and overseas, but was always strongest in its native Cornwall and Devon. In 1907 it was united with the United Methodist Free Churches and the Methodist New Connexion to form the United Methodist Church, which in turn united with the Wesleyan Methodists in 1932, to create the modern Methodist Church.

With the 1932 reunion, the Grove Hill congregation moved to the Methodist Chapel in St Mawes, and the old chapel became redundant. In 1937 a group of local Catholics raised £750 and purchased the building. The church was enlarged and adapted, and the first Mass was said in the following year. At first the church was served from Falmouth, but in 1946-7 a presbytery was built, allowing it to be served by visiting priests.  The first resident priest did not arrive until 1956.


Former Bible Christian Chapel, 1875, architect unknown, and since 1937, the Catholic church of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Anthony. The church is built of rubble slatestone with granite quoins, with brick in the side window arches. There is a further rendered bay at the east end, added in 1938. The roofs are of Delabole slate. The front elevation has an unusual shaped gable to the street, of almost Baroque character, surmounted by a Celtic cross. There is a blank tablet in the gable, presumably intended for (or once containing) a name or a date. In front of this is a large lean-to porch, possibly a later addition, with a large gabled entrance with two handsome panelled hardwood doors and a pointed arched fanlight with diamond quarried glazing. On the flank elevations of the original church are three lancet windows with diamond leaded glazing, then a fourth rendered bay to the east, with a similar window. The east end is windowless, and the 1946-7 presbytery is built against it.

From the entrance porch there are two doors into the church. The interior consists of a single volume with painted plaster walls with a flat panelled ceiling. There is a boarded timber dado around the perimeter walls and fixed benches for the congregational seating. Stone font of apparent late nineteenth century date in the southwest corner. At the east end there is a large freestanding granite altar, of unknown provenance and possibly brought into the church in the 1970s, when there was a major restoration at the time of the building’s centenary. Behind the altar is an attractive reredos with central shelf for the tabernacle and over this a recess for a monstrance with a timber spirelet over. On either side, openwork panels with carved vine scrolls.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1875

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed