St Breaca

The present church was probably built in the early 12th century and houses an important series of late medieval wall paintings executed shortly after the completion of the church in the mid 15th century.

About this church

It was considerably enlarged with north and south aisles and chapels and transepts from the mid 15th to the mid 16th centuries. This church as viewed from the exterior is much as it was over 500 years ago. It is dedicated to St Breaca an Irish missionary who is thought to have first come to Cornwall in 500 AD to bring Christianity to the area.

Breage church houses an important series of late medieval wall paintings executed shortly after the completion of the church in the mid 15th century. The two most impressive figures are set either side of the main door in the north aisle. They show St Christopher carrying the Christ Child on his shoulder. This huge figure can be seen crossing a river with fish around his feet. Also to the bottom left of the picture are the figures of a mermaid looking at her image in a mirror whilst nearby is a hermit sat in a small clinker boat. To the right of the door is a somewhat gory figure of The Christ of the Trades or Sabbath Christ. Around His body may be seen implements of a local farming community, and in various other places may be seen a set of playing cards and between his legs there is a lute. Other paintings in this same aisle reveal locally significant saints.

On the south wall are St Thomas Becket, St Giles and Henry VI who was never canonised. Other painted work includes a 16th century text panel and 19th century stencilling at the east end.

The Celtic cross is of considerable interest and its origin a matter of conjecture in that it is of red sandstone a material not found locally. Pevsner describes it as a ‘four holed wheel cross with Hiberno Saxon decoration’ which would place it probably in the 9th century.

The Royal Coat of Arms was carved in high relief from oak by a lady parishioner. Other unusual features are the 19th century reredos carved by Belgian carvers and a Roman ‘milestone’.

The Godolphin Chapel is the resting place of Margaret Godolphin (nee Blagge) the wife of Sidney Godolphin who was the First Lord of the Treasury under Queen Anne. She died in childbirth in 1678. The funerary helmets which travelled from London on her hearse are suspended from the ceiling in the chapel.

This small Cornish village is fortunate to have such a fine and historic church. Its preservation is due in no small part to the generous support of visitors and of Breage and Cornish families now spread all over the world.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Car park at church

Other nearby churches

St Michael

Unusual in Cornwall, St Michael's church is a light and airy Georgian building, built to a design by the London architect Thomas Edwards, a pupil of Nicholas Hawksmoor.

St Wendrona

Wendron parish church is a Grade I listed 15th century church restored in 1867-9.

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