Zennor – Cornwall

Welcome to the parish church of Zennor: St Senara in the Anglican Diocese of Truro, Cornwall. Zennor church nestles among green fields on the north Cornish coast and the tower stands tall in a beautiful rugged landscape. The circular graveyard is an Iron Age site overlying the Stone and Bronze Age boundaries of this ancient land. Christianity came to Zennor when the Age of Saints followed the fall of the Roman Empire.
Originally dedicated to St. Senara, Zennor is one of the few places to begin with a Z. The Cornish language hardened in the 16th century and the S changed to Z. The first window in the chancel shows her holding the church.
The Saxons and Normans built churches so the foundation of Zennor could be a thousand years old. In Medieval times Zennor church was constantly improved and enlarged. Now people come from all over the world to see the famous carving from those times of a mermaid on a pew end.
For centuries the inhabitants of this windswept parish have brought their children to Zennor church to be baptised and their dead to be buried. They have celebrated marriages and sought comfort in times of stress. At harvest and Christmas this historic building fills to bursting with the sound of traditional hymns and carols.
In the tower are tombstones with interesting inscriptions. One is for the ‘Hen-pecked husband’ with a beautiful engraving for the ‘four winds which daily toss this bubble’. Another is to John Quick who died in 1784 and ‘excell’d his equals’. On the wall outside, to the west of the porch, is a memorial to John Davy who died in 1891. He was the last person to speak Cornish as his native tongue.
The fortunes of the parish have varied over the centuries and in 1841 the population of Zennor had increased to 1025. Today the inhabitants have dwindled to a bare 200 and they struggle to maintain this venerable building.

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