The following description is lifted directly from [Polsue 1868]. It must be read in the context of that date. Other extracts are available online.


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SENNEN is situated in the deanery and hundred of penwith; it is bounded on the north and west by the sea, the northern boundary embracing a large portion of Whitesand Bay; on the east by S. Just and S. Burian; and on the south by S. Levan.

The living is a rectory in the patromge of the Duke of Cornwall; the tithes were commuted in 1853 at £230; but there is neither glebe nor residence.

The parish contains by actual measurement 2230A. 0R. 36P., of which the church and churchyard measure 38R., and the public roads and waste, 12A. 0R. 38P.

This parish with those of S. Burian and S. Levan, formed the royal deanery of Burian, which became dissolved at the demise of the last dean in 1864, when the Rev. George-Ley Woollcombe became the first independent rector of this parish; he however has recently been preferred to the rectory of S. Mevan, and his successor has not yet been named, 1871.

The church which is dedicated to S. Senanus, was restored in good taste in 1867, at a cost of £900, from the designs of Mr. St. Aubyn; it comprises a chancel, nave, south aisle, and north transept. The arcade consists of six four-centred arches of porcelain stone, supported on pillars of the same material. At the east end of the aisle is a wall painting, discovered on removing the old plaster, in the restoration; it represents two round, embattled towers, finished with canopies. On a bracket in the transept is preserved one of the “headless bodies” cut in alabaster, spoken of by Hals; it is supposed to represent the virgin Mary. The transept has a four centred arch of granite. The font is modern; it consists of a round bowl, supported on an octagonal shaft, resting on the ancient granite basement spoken of by Hals, supposed to be the re-dedication stone of the church; the inscription is as follows,—eccl'a i decoli s. j. b. dedica fut. Anno d'ni millo cccco xli—; which has been thus rendered,—“This church was dedicated on the festival of the beheading of S. John the Baptist, Anno domini MCCCCXLI—” ; the concluding figures of date have been damaged. The tower arch is obtuse pointed, and springs from corbels.

The only entrance to the church is through a south porch.

The tower has three stages, and is finished with battlements and pinnacles; the belfry contains three bells; one was cast by Thomas Bayley of Bridgewater, in 1762, another was cast in 1810.

Tablets of marble are thus inscribed:—

Sacred to the memory of John Ellis, Esqr., a member of the English Bar, and a Magistrate of this county; who departed this life at Boulogne Sur Mer in France, on the 20th of Decr., 1831; in the 54th year of his age.

To record his worth, who to his family was “all in all” on earth; to express the sense they entertain of their irreparable loss, and to bear testimony to the great love they had for him, as well as to their hope of meeting him again in a happier life hereafter,—this tablet has been erected by his affectionate widow and children.

In memory of Harriet Buckmaster, of Windsor Castle Estate, Jamaica, and wife of the late John Ellis, Esqr., died 1843.

Streater Carteret John Ellis, eldest son. of Carteret J. W. Ellis, Esq. and Emily Ellis; born 29th April, 1832; died 8th May, 1838, deeply regetted.

Eveline Emily Caroline Penolva Ellis, the beloved and only daughter of Carteret J. W. Ellis, Esq. and Emily Ellis, born at Trengwainton 22nd March, 1839; died in Paris 6th July, 1848.

Carteret John William Ellis, Esq., magistrate and dep. Lieut. of this County; born 11 Septr., 1805; died 11 Octr., 1858.

Also in memory of Emily Ellis, youngest danghtcr of the late Isaac Railton Esq., of the Manor House, Calbeck, Cumberland, and Hertford Street, Mayfair, London, and Margaret Scott, daughter of Captain Scott, R.N., and the lovely accomplished wife of the late Carteret John William Ellis, Esqre., Deputy Lieutenant and Magistrate of the County of Cornwall; born 18th Septr., 1810; died 13th March, 1669; in the 59th year of her age. She died deeply regretted and beloved by all who knew her.

Arms,—Gules, on a cross or 5 crescents, for Ellis.

In memory of James Trembath, Esquire, of Mayon House, in this parish, who died the 7th o[f] July, 1867; aged 64 years.

This tablet was erected in affectionate remembrance by his sister, Amelia Millett Symons.

The manor of Mayon or Maen, formerly the property of St. Aubyn and Williams, afterwards became vested in James Trembath, Esq., of Mayon House, whose sister and heir, Mrs. A. M. Symons is the present proprietor. Mayon House adjoins the church-town.

The barton of Penrose, now the property of Lord Viscount Falmouth, was temp. Elizabeth, the seat of Ralph Penrose, from whom it passed through mortage to John Connock of Liskeard, and afterwards by sale to Francis Jones, whose representatives sold it to the ancestors of the present proprietor.

The barton of Treveare, the ancient seat of the family of Ellis, is also the property of Viscount Falmouth. On the boundary of this parish, by the side of the Penzance road, is a cemetery formerly used by the Society of Friends, but now closed. One roughly constructed granite tomb only, will be found in this gloomy and solitary place of sepulture; it is inscribed—“Here is buried that virtuous woman Phillis the wife of John Ellis,” (1677). The brambles and thorns efficiently protect the graves of the other members of this peaceful fraternity buried here.

A wayside cross is built into a hedge near the road at Sennen Green; it displays an embossed Latin cross.

Schools for the use of this parish and S. Levan have recently been built at Skewjack.

The inn at the church-town is known by the name of The First and Last Inn in England; on the north side of its sign are the words—”The Last Inn in England,”—on the south, towards the Land’s End road—”The First Inn in England.”

The principal villages are the Churchtown, Treave, Maen, Sennen Cove, Escalls, and Trevescan. There is a Wesleyan Methodist chapel at the Churchtown; a Bible Christian chapel at Escalls; and a Baptist chapel at Treave.

The parish feast is kept on Advent Sunday, being the nearest Sunday to S. Andrew’s day.

Among the landowners are the names of Pascoe, Permewan, Richards, Saundry, Symons, Trudgeon, Williams, and Lord Robartes.

The Parish rests on granite only; felspathic rocks however, may be seen at low water. The cliff which bounds the Land’s End district is more abrupt than elevated, not being more than about 60 feet above sea level. It is composed of immense blocks of granite arranged in columular piles and horizontal masses, which give it a basaltic appearance, in other places colossal arches and tunnels are formed, through which the waves rush with immense fury and noise. At Maên there is a porphyritic bed which is a compound of granular felspar and shorl.

Whitesand Bay is formed of testaceous sand like that at S. Ives Padstow etc.

On the Land’s End isthmus Wesley is said to have composed the verse of one of his hymns commencing,—

“Lo! on a narrow neck of land.”

[This next section is displaced in the book, occuring after the chapter on Stratton.]

The church stands at an altitude of 390 feet above the sea level; from the top of the tower there is a grand view of the surrounding wild and romantic scenery. Peal Point, the extremity of the Land’s End, is exactly a mile in a straight line from the church; the extreme point of the promontory is about 60 feet above the sea level. The cliffs are precipitous, and in some places almost perpendicular; the granite rocks of which they are formed, are cubical and prismatic in shape, and are piled up with singular regularity. A large tunnel, about 150 feet in length, traverses the neck of the promontory; it is called the Land’s End Hole, or in Cornish Vau Laz. There are one or two other holes or caves in the vicinity. Above Gamper Bay, about half a mile north enst of Peal Point, on the edge of the cliff, stand the remains of Maen Castle; it consists of a large vallum, a nmssive wall of rocks, and an intervening ditch, stretching across a small headland.

Sennen Cove, a fishing village, is situated at the southern extremity of Whitesand Bay; here was an ancient chapel locally called Chapel idné, or the narrow chapel, being 45 feet in length by 15 in breadth; it has long been used as a dwelling. Sennen Cove is a station of the Coast Guard; opposite the cove is a rock or islet called Cowloe.

Whitesand Bay derives its name from the delicately white sand of which its beach is formed; it is about a mile and a quarter in length,extending from Carn aire, in S. Just, to Pedn mên du, in this parish. It is said that king Athelslan sailed from this place for the Scilly Islands; king Stephen is said to have landed here; king John also, on his return from Ireland; and Perkin Warbeck.

The latitude of the Land’s End is 50 degs. 4 mins. 7 secs. north; its longitude 5 degs. 41 mins. 32 secs. west.

The Longships Lighthouse rises from a group of rocks one mile and a quarter west of the Land’s End; the rock on which it is built, called Carn Bras, the Great carn, rises 71 feet above low water mark; the lighthonse measures from its base to the top of the lantern cowl 56 feet; its circumference at the base is 68 feet; the lantern is 11½ feet in diameter, and is lit by 19 Argand lamps. Four men are engaged in the lighthouse service, three being always in the building, and one on shore. It has happened that all communication with the mainland has been cut off for three months together; such is the wild fury of the sea at this place during stormy weather. The lighthouse was built by a Mr. Smith in 1797; houses for the lightkeepers have recently been erected on the hill near Sennen cove.

The Wolf Rock lighthouse is situated 8½ miles S.S.W. of the Land’s End. The rock on which it is built measures 175 feet in length and 150 in breadth; at low water it stands 17 feet in height, and the full tide covers it about 2 feet. On this dangerous rock an attempt was once made to fix a hollow figure in the shape of a wolf, with bells attached, so that the wind in rushing through it might make a great noise and ring the bells; but the design could not be accomplished. In 1795 an iron beacon was placed On it, but it soon disappeared; in 1836-40 a second beacon was erected at a cost of £11,298; and four times the oak masts and balls, of which it was constructed, were Swept away.

The works for the present lighthouse were commenced March 17, 1862; and the last stone was laid by Sir Frederick Arrow, Knt., July 19, 1869; the total cost was £62,726. It springs from a base 41 feet 8 inches in diameter to a height of 116 feet 5 inches, and terminates in a diameter of 17 feet. Attached to the lantern is a fog-bell which weighs 5 cwt.; it has two hammers, which when necessary, are set in motion by clockwork. 1,1871. The struoture, which embodies about 3296 tons of granite, was first lighted Jany. 1, 1871.

At Vallandreath, the mill on the sands, in 1750, the skeleton of a deer was found at the depth of 30 feet; and near it an oak tree 20 feet long. 1n 1753, several pieces of deer’s horn were found at a depth of 20 feet.

“In the year 1716,” writes Borlase, a farmer of the village of Mên, having removed a flat stone, seven feet long and six wide, discovered a cavity underneath it, at each end of which was a stone 2 feet long, and on ench side a stone 4 feet long. In the middle of this cavity was an urn full of black earth, and round the urn very large human bones, not placed in their natural order, but irregularly mixed.”

About two furlongs eastward of the church is the village of Mayon, Maên, or Mên; adjoining a cottage in this village is a block of granite seven or eight feet long and about three high, called Table-mên. Tradition says that circa 600, three, or seven, Saxon kings dined on this stone; and Merlin prophesied that a larger number of kings should meet at this rock for a similar repast previous to some terrible event, or the end of the world.

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