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Stained Glass of Percy Bacon & Brothers

Laneast, St Sidwell's

St Sidwell's Church Laneast Cornwall

St Sidwell's Church, Laneast, Cornwall

Posted 16 August 2022.

The present church is mostly 13th and 14th century, though it is likely that it replaced an earlier simple Norman structure which occupied the site. Most if all Norman features have been swept away except for some of the masonry in the transept and the splendid Norman font. St Sidwell's Church, Laneast: Norman font - Bodmin School. It stands on a pedestal and on three sides sports carved 6-petalled flowers (possibly votive crosses or St Catherine's wheels) around each of which is curled a snake with heads at both ends of its body. The heads, with mouths agape and tongues extended face each other as if fighting, sublimely unaware they are the same beast! At each corner of the square top in which the circular bowl sits there is a face, possibly representations of the evangelists. The style is similar to the fonts at St Thomas's Launceston, Jacobstow, Warbstow, Wrabstow: Norman font - Bodmin School. Altarnon and elsewhere, suggesting that all may have been carved by the same school of masons operating in North Cornwall. The font at All Hallows, All Hallow's, Kea: Norman font - Bodmin School. Kea follows a similar pattern, though this is circular and stands on a more elaborate pedestal of five shafts. The Perpendicular south aisle was built c1436 along with the porch and lofty tower.1 Inside, a fine carved screen spans the width of the south aisle and nave, a common feature of Cornish churches. Both the nave and south aisles have open wagon roofs. A few fragments of 15th century stained glass depicting the crucifixion St Sidwell's Church, Laneast: 15th century fragments reset into plain quarries. survive having been reset into some of the windows, and there are some fine 15th century carved bench ends. The village name itself is said to derive from the the ancient Celtic word, Lan, meaning "Church" and East, the hundred in which it is located.

The church is dedicated to the 9th century female saint and martyr, St Sidwell, or Sativola, a Saxon Christian from Exeter, and St Gulvat (or Gulval) - reputedly Sativola's sister - though the origin of the latter dedication is somewhat a mystery. Sidwell is said to have been murdered by decapitation with a scythe in the field where she worked to help the poor by a couple of corn reapers hired by Sidwell's stepmother. Like many hagiographies which fall into the "Head Cult" category, the story tells of a spring gushing forth where Sidwell's head fell, and a shaft of light shining above it for three nights. Today, close by the church there is still a Holy Well. St Sidwell was buried in St Sidwell's Church in Exeter and pilgrims were said to have venerated her there from as early as the year 1000.2

South Aisle East; 1902
St Sidwell's Llaneast; Stained glass window by Percy Bacon & Brothers
South Aisle East: 1902. Boer War Memorial Window.

South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: St Sativola (Sidwell). She hold a scythe, the implement of her toil and her martyrdom.

South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: St Sativola (Sidwell). She hold a scythe, the implement of her toil and her martyrdom.
South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: BVM & Child.
South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: BVM & Child.
South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: St George.
South Aisle East; 1902: Boar War Memorial Window: St George.

South Aisle East: Boer War Memorial window 1902.

There is a single Percy Bacon & Brothers window in St Sidwell's, in the east of the south aisle. The window of three lights and simple Perpendicular tracery depicts St Sativola (the Latinised version of Sidwell), The Blessed Virgin and Child, and St George. In the tracery the four archangels, Gabriel, Raphael, Michael and Uriel are represented holding their respective symbols; a lily, a fish, a sword, and a book. Savitola holds a scythe, the implement of her toil and martyrdom. George is portrayed as a medieval knight in armour, complete with lance and shield. At the base of the central light below the Virgin and Child the inscription in Latin reads; "Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis", "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us".

This is an early example of a Bacon Studios war memorial in stained glass, though rather than remembering those who fell in the European theatre, which make up the vast majority of their Great War memorial windows, here the window commemorates the Boer War and the safe return of the men of the village who served in that campaign.

A plaque below the window holds the dedication:

"To the Glory of God and in thankful commemoration of the return from the South African War of John Guy Baron Lethbridge Capt KO 3rd Hussars who lost his right arm in action, Robert Christopher Baron Lethbridge Capt: 5th Fusiliers, Charles Francis Baron Lethbridge, S A Constabulary, and Alexander James King DSO, Major, King’s own Reg. This Window is dedicated Nov 2nd 1902".

The window is unsigned.


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References: Use your browser's Back button to return to text.

  1. Framed history in the church.
  2. For more on the cult of St Sidwell, see the entry for St Sidwell's Church, Exeter.
  3. Entry on the Cornish Stained Glass website.


Location Map:

NGR: SX 22794 83991
Sat Nav Post Code: PL15 8PN

All text and photos © Alan Spencer, except where otherwise stated; All Rights Reserved