From ‘The Collins Guide to the Parish Churches of England’ Edited by John Betjeman
John Betjeman said the four corners of St Endellion’s tower peep at you like a hare in a cornfield, and indeed they do, popping over the brow of the hill as you approach. When you get to it, St Endellion is the most feminine of churches. It has wonderfully carved wooden pew ends, a delicate frieze and a beautiful ceiling. However the loveliest thing to be seen there is the Saint herself depicted in a gorgeous modern icon holding a single barley straw in blessing. St Endellion (or Endellienta as she is sometimes called) is also depicted in the wonderful choir stalls of St Hilary's Church in West Cornwall.
There could be no more delightful setting for a Music Festival and one is held here twice yearly. The St Endellion Music Festival is now over fifty years old, making it a more established festival in North Cornwall than many of the so called traditional but actually resurrected festivals. The summer festival starts at the end of this month.
The special atmosphere of St Endellion’s Church has made both it and the festival a magnet and a refuge for musicians from all over the world. What began as a few friends coming down to restore the ancient rectory and put on a few ad hoc concerts has become a significant date in the musical calendar. There are now exciting plans to turn the buildings around the church into a centre for Music and Spirituality. John Betjeman, who loved the church and is buried at nearby St Enodoc, would surely have approved.
St Endellion is also the name of a soft brie like cheese from Trevarrian near Newquay. Made from Cornish milk and with the addition of double cream, it is rich and completely delicious. Naming a cheese after this particular Saint is highly appropriate as she is reputed to have lived only on milk!
We know about St Endellion from the work of Nicholas Roscarrock a famous Catholic recusant of the sixteenth century who wrote a book on the lives of the Saints, including more than a hundred from Devon and Cornwall. Roscarrock was born at a farm in St Endellion’s Parish and no doubt this saintly dairy maid held a special significance for him.
Roscarrock says that St Endellion was one of the children on the Welsh King Brychan and that she was born about AD470. Her claim to fame as a Saint is that she restored to life the man who killed her cow – and the cow as well. When she was dying she directed her followers to place her body on a sled to be pulled by two unguided bullocks, and where they halted so would she. They pulled her to the top of a hill and the church was built on their resting place.
I don’t want to mess about with something as lovely as St Endellion Cheese, but it might be nice to have something delicious to go with it.
Cherries – I used two punnets
300ml of white wine vinegar
1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of thyme for every jar.
I teaspoon of sea salt
Spices to taste – I used 2 blades of mace, 1 tablespoon of coriander seed and 2 sticks of cinnamon. You could also use star anise, allspice or cloves, but don’t over do it.
Make the syrup by heating the vinegar in a stainless steel pan, bringing it to the boil and dissolving the sugar in it. Then add the spices and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave until completely cold – preferably overnight. Wash and dry the cherries leaving the stalks on and discarding any blemished ones.
Pack the cherries into sterilized jars adding thyme and bay to each jar. Top up with the syrup and seal. You might have some syrup left – it depends on the size of your jars. Leave for a week before eating. Keep in a cool dark place and eat within a couple of months.
The friendly cow, all red and white,
I love with all my heart;
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)