HISTORY OF THE THREE ANGLICAN CHURCHES IN THE PARISH OF CALSTOCK, CORNWALL
The modern parish of Calstock lies in the ancient Hundred of East and the Deanery of Wivelshire and is of 5,829 acres, nearly the whole of which is farmland or former mining areas with a parish population of 5,565, many of whom commute to larger towns for work.
ST ANDREW’S CHURCH, CALSTOCK (THE PARISH CHURCH)
The largely Perpendicular style church is surrounded by the Celtic churchyard and is 335 feet above sea level. Its commanding position on a steep escarpment overlooking the River Tamar is a landmark seen from afar and it had magnificent views from the northern churchyard before the trees grew so tall.
The church is said to have been consecrated about 1290 but nothing obvious remains of this period. Richard, earl of Cornwall bought the manor of Calstock from Roger de Valletort in 1270. Calstock is one of 17 ancient manors of the Duchy of Cornwall. On the 3rd March 1337, the eldest son of King Edward III was created Duke of Cornwall and the church is under the Patronage of H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall.
The Secretary of State listed the parish church in 1968 as a Grade 1 building of special architectural or historic interest; only 4% of all listed buildings in the country are Grade 1. It consists of a chancel of two bays, nave of four bays, north aisle and south aisle, with an internal floor measurement overall of 74 feet by 41 feet 6 inches plus an 18 feet by 11 feet western tower and a south porch, with seating for about 250 worshippers.
There have been various restoration schemes, particularly in 1867 when the church was extensively repaired and reordered under the direction of the London and Devonport architect James Piers St Aubyn at a cost of £600, a considerable sum in those days; the contractors were Messrs Baker, Smith and Hunn of Calstock. The continual process of repair and restoration is apparent in the present good condition of the fabric but sadly little remains of antiquity in the church furnishings and fittings.
You can purchase a Guide to the Ancient Parish Church of Calstock written by the Rev Wood in 2005 for £3 – and available at St Andrew’s Church. It will give you further detailed information about this and the other churches in the parish.
In the Census of 1801 the population of Calstock parish is shown as 1,105; in 1821 it had risen to 2, 064, whereas in 1861 it was 7,060. This rapid increase was as a result of the introduction of prosperous mining for copper, tin, arsenic, silver and quarrying, lime burning and boat-building, all of which have since closed down. After 1864 “the population rapidly diminished when many miners emigrated or went to work in the northern coal mines”.