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Cornwall – the Monastic connection

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

There is a huge amount of information available on monastic sites around the country, and a long list of those in Cornwall. An array of Monasteries, Granges, Priories and cells, the remains of some are still to be found, others erased from existence over time, are to be found among the nine hundred or so religious houses recorded at the time of the Dissolution. The list of Cornish sites is listed in this link:

If you would like to look further into this fascinating subject, I include some links, which will take you to several very learned sites. Within the Kevrinek books, I suggest a possible link to the Priory at Bodmin established by St Petroc, possibly in the 6th century after he moved from Padstow, his original monastery in the town having been destroyed by the Vikings in AD581. The following links give a good deal of detail on the sites in Cornwall and a sound background on what we know of St Petroc.

Another monk, St Guron was at Bodmin when Petroc arrived but made way for him, moving his cell to Gorran to the south. His ‘well’ remains and you will find references to this on the following site:

The Bodmin Gospels – Manumissions - will no doubt come up in your research and this was a manuscript produced by the monks of Bodmin, which now resides in the British Library. The link below explains a little about this remarkable work, discovered by Thomas Rudd, a bookseller in London in 1833, who sold it to the British Library. It was thought to have been assembled and covered in Brittany, then a Celtic area.

The dissolution in the mid 16th century changed the entire structure, causing the majority of Religious houses to be closed, destroyed or reused for other, sometimes related, purposes. The ‘sudden’ act of dissolution could not have been wholly unexpected as there were warning sign for several years before. Across Europe there had been moves to confiscate monastic property from early in the 16th century in the period known as the Reformation. However, the reasons behind the English dissolution differed greatly from the process in Europe. I found the article below excellent in clarifying the precedent in England and that in Europe. You will find this information in the following link if you scroll down a couple of pages.

Chy Nans

Where does my thinking lead me with regard to Kevrinek and Chy Nans. I have hinted at some vague and unverified link to the priory at Bodmin and I make no apologies for the conjecture in that information is so scanty that imagination can play with the possibilities without causing alarm or challenging any established recorded detail available.

Carmelite nuns still inhabit Lanherne Monastery in the same general area one assumes my books to be set and the suggestion is simply that the ‘Old Buildings’ to the south of the house could have been set up as a temporary cell related to Bodmin and the main house built some time later as a retreat for monks and, potentially, as a place to secrete items that require ‘safe’ lodging at a time of huge upheaval. Is it too much of a stretch to consider that such a place could have been used to hide items of value, material and spiritual, at a tumultuous time when there may have been little time to think, to plan and to record the transit of such goods? Bodmin Priory did not, as far as we know, house items of significance but a further possibility could be that important and possibly rare treasures could have found their way from some of the more prestigious sites up country, again to find a place of safe keeping.

There must have been a good deal of fear and desperation at the time, so the chances of definite information as to what was taken where could well have been overlooked and then, over time, forgotten entirely. The dissolution threatened and destroyed a whole way of life in a very short space of time.

I would like to think that there are secrets to be discovered, and I think perhaps you would too!

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