A church set in ‘Clay Country’ 600ft above sea level on the site of an Iron Age fort and looking out towards Newquay and the north coast of Cornwall.
The church stands at the northern end of the main street of St Columb Major, at the head of the fertile Vale of Lanherne. It is dedicated to Columba, not of Iona but an Irish maiden who, legend has it, was martyred by a spurned suitor at nearly Ruthvoes, where her holy well can be found. The well proportioned tower, which unusually has a passage underneath, was completed in 1433 and contains eight bells originally cast locally by the Penningtons in 1776. There is a chiming clock, installed in 1921 as a memorial to those who gave their lives in the Great War.
Entering through the south porch, visitors will be struck by the width of the Nave arches which, together with the clear north aisle windows opposite, add to the sense of space and light. There is no old glass owing to an explosion in 1676 when some schoolboys ignited gunpowder stored in the church. This caused considerable damage and, presumably, the demise of the perpatrators. The 33 carved bench ends date from 1510. Some show symbols of the passion but visitors might like to try and find the one of a dog preaching to a pig!
On the south transept altar is the statue Christus Dux (Christ the Leader) by Alon Wyon. The window with figures of the four apostles was given in memory of a local physician, Dr Martyn; the face of Luke bears his likeness. The rood screen and figures by the Pinwell sisters were installed in 1903 and replaced a former screen removed in 1845. The organ in the north choir aisle is by Bryceson & Ellis of London and dates from 1877.
The well proportioned chancel is of great beauty & dignity, with a fine window of 1908. When the church is unattended regretfully we need to keep this area locked & alarmed, but we hope visitors appreciate the open church. Before leaving you may like to pause in the Lady, or Arundell, Chapel and spend a few moments of quiet, perhaps in prayer, before returning to the hustle and bustle of the world outside.