The New Church

Mr Broade Eade moved to Newlyn East in 1903, and the new Vicar, Canon Augustus Vansittart Thornton, wasted no time in promoting the building of a new and larger church.   In September 1903 a minute of the church council recorded that “Canon Thornton reported that he had received a letter from Mr Mitchell [The Revd  W.S.Michell] offering ½ acre of land for £500 for the purpose of building a church.”  The council thought the price too steep, but started negotiations nevertheless.

The site was purchased early the following year, after a committee of leading churchmen[1] had been appointed to organise the collection of funds and the building of the new church. The Vicar was the Chairman of the Committee; Mr Thurstan Collins the Secretary, and Mr T.H.Willcocks[2], a local bank manager, was the Treasurer.

On the recommendation of Canon Thornton, the Vicar, the committee appointed J.N.Comper [later Sir Ninian Comper, 1864-1960] as architect for the new church in March 1906.  Although Comper was one of Britain’s foremost church architects, he does not seem to have been well-known to the committee, where his name is several times spelt “Komber” in the minute book.  Comper moved with commendable speed and produced his first plans for the church by the end of July 1906.   He did not have an easy time with the committee, the members of which were determined that they wanted a church “of a Cornish type… to accommodate 1,000, at a cost of not in any event exceeding £10,000.”   It was three years before the foundation stone of the new church was laid (on 7th September 1909) by which time Messrs Ambrose Andrews of Plymouth had been appointed the main contractors.  Work carried on throughout 1910 and eventually, after the some setbacks and some last minute frights that the necessary money would be collected in time, the church was completed and was consecrated on July 12th, 1911 by Dr Stubbs, the Bishop of Truro.  The total cost of the church, including the purchase of the site, was just under £11,000.

The completion of the church gave fresh impetus to the desire to make Newquay a separate parish, but once again moves forward were stalled by a disagreement within the parish as to whom should appoint the vicar. Some wanted the Bishop or the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral to be the appointing body; others thought that there should be a stronger local and lay element in making any appointment. Then the First World War broke out and people’s thoughts were turned to sterner matters.[3]

By 1918, however, agreement had been reached on the formation of a new parish, and on Sunday, October 27th at 11 a.m. the Revd and Hon. Reginald John Yarde-Buller was instituted as the first Vicar of Newquay. See History of Vicars for subsequent Vicars.

The Church was further beautified over the years, with stained glass (some designed by Ninian Comper), by the rood screen, also designed by Comper, which was installed in sections, and by the fine organ by Nicholson of Worcester, which was dedicated in 1961, replacing an old organ of mixed origin. This was the gift of the late Revd W.P.Mitchell, as was the tower. Comper’s original plans had included a tower at the east end of the church, which was never built for lack of funds. Mr Mitchell’s most generous legacy to the parish specified that it had to be used for an organ and a tower.  By this time Sir Ninian Comper was ill and very old, and handed the work to his son, Mr Sebastian Comper.  He designed the present tower, which was of a simplified plan to that of his father’s. The tower was completed in 1969, and is 64.76 metres (105 feet 6 inches) in height.  It was originally intended to contain a peal of bells, but there have never been funds for this or the proposed clock either.


[1] And they were all men; the committee even passed a resolution that “only men be appointed on this committee”!  In spite of this snub, women seemed to have raised much of the money for the new church.

[2] Mr Willcocks was the father of Sir David Willcocks, one of Newquay’s most distinguished sons, who began his career in church music as a choirboy in the choir of St Michael’s Church.

[3] It is worth recording here a story told to the present writer in 1967 by the late Mr Roy Trethewey, a respected church worker in the parish. In his youth, he said,  the parishioners were divided between those who might be asked to dine and could use the front door of the Vicarage, and those who certainly would not be asked to dine, and were expected to use the back door.  Roy belonged to the latter set. When war broke out in 1914, he went away to the front.  He was a bright young man, and soon became a sergeant-major, and later was commissioned in the field.  As Lieutenant Trethewey, and a “temporary gentleman”, as they were called, he was told that he might now use the front door of the Vicarage!

Next: Out of the Flames