I stumbled upon St. Symphorian's Church one bright and windy morning whilst out for a walk before breakfast. Perched high on the rugged cliffs above the harbour of Boscastle in north Cornwall in the parish of Forrabury.
The present church includes features that date to the Norman invasion in the 11th century and is dedicated to the French saint, St Symphorian. A nearby ancient Celtic Cross suggests that the site has a much older provenance. Atop the south east battlement of the tower is a fish-shaped weathervane.
Unfortunately, at the time I had only 3 shots left in my camera and as my car was in the garage, I had no means of securing more.
Although I can relate some tantalising features of this church I will have to leave it to interested readers to procure their own pictures or perhaps visit the church themselves.
From the church brochure:
"Of the five panels forming the altar front, that on the left shows the letters A S, the latter being like a serpent. The next panel is in two halves, a dove and a shield with a lance rest. The centre panel is the Lamb and Flag over the letter M, which is probably the monogram for Mary. (1) The next panel has the emblems of the Our Lord's Passion: the Cross with Crown of Thorns, Hammer and Pincers on one half, with Spear, Sponge, Heart and Nails on the other. The right hand panel is a geometrical design."
"The credence table has a heart transfixed by a spear, a cock and a hen, while the west facing panel is difficult to interpret, the only recognisable feature being a pennant. It probably originally represented the symbol IHS. The pulpit is made up of another geometrical design, a terrier and two rabbits in a burrow, an ape on a stool and two swans."
The church is surrounded by a large graveyard which to the West has east facing stones and to the west mainly west facing stones. Against the south wall (the vestry and chancel walls) are some very old memorial stones. Inscribed on
the oldest one, at the east end is:
JOHAN wife of JOHN TUBB was buried ye 27 of December 1644 JOHN their sonne was buried the 17th day of May 1647.
'This bee with whom I travelled in my wombe,
Takes up his lodgings with me in my tombe,
A deare & welcombe guest to whom I gave
My living house, Should I denie my grave.
Dust rest with dust till that your soules divine
You reassume and both in glory shine.'
St Symphorian, although quite anonymous in England has many churches dedicated to him in France. The church brochure proposes that the Bottreaux family who usurped the area (Boscastle is derived from Bottreaux's Castle) when they arrived with William the Conqueror (3) named the church after their favourite saint. However the legend of St Symphorian says that he came from Autun, in Burgundy, and was beheaded in AD282 for riling against the Phrygian, dark moon goddess, Cybele (-who seems remarkably similar to St John the Baptist's nemesis, Salome).
Autun claims to have the head of St Lazarus who according to Rudolph Steiner was a composition of the ressurected Lazarus and John the Baptist.
The saltire of Burgundy, the St Andrew's cross is also the Teutonic rune of the eagle, which is another symbol for Scorpio. The eagle is a symbol of St John the Evangelist. The lecturn in St Symphorian's Church is a large splayed wooden eagle.
(1) The letter M appears regularly on gravestones here. The Lamb and Flag is a Baptist and Templar motif. (2) Apart from the intriguing coincidence with the widower above (John Tubb) and his son, John Tubb with John the Baptist - Tub) The parish of Forrabury is bounded on the east by the River Jordan.
The graveyard contains two definite Masonic graves and a number of likelies. The aforementioned two are directly west of the tower and close together.