The site that St. Nonna's (also called the Cathedral of the Moors) stands on has been a holy site since at least the 12th century, but the church that now stands there is from the 15th century period. The tower of the church is 109 feet high and the whole structure is surrounded by old graves. Open during the day, the interior of this beautiful church is a small marvel, housing stained glass windows and 79 bench ends, hand-carved by Robert Daye in the 16th century. Each end is unique and beautiful and have to be seen to be fully appreciated. The inside of this church took my breath away, and I must confess I felt as if the holiness of 900 years of Christian worship has permeated the very wood and stones of the building. It was not the last time I would feel this way during my visit to Cornwall.
An ancient Celtic cross can be seen outside of the church, as well as a picturesque footbridge leading over a babbling brook. The whole affair is right in the center of the village, and all two (three, perhaps?) of the village shops, including the post office, are a stone's throw away.
When one is in Altarnun they must visit Geoff and Mary Wright (search this website to contact them) even if it's just for a cup of tea. They may be some of the most pleasant and helpful people I've ever met, and they're a wealth of information about the area.
Don't be shy. If you're interested in Altarnun, email Geoff, Mary, or Antony Wright (all of whom are listed here on VT) and ask them about stopping by.
I bet they'll be delighted to hear from you.
There are so many pretty little corners and attractive houses in this picturesque village.
My sister and her husband, longtime residents of North Anerica and for the last 10 years of California, were bowled over to find that the heritage they had "stored" for 40 years was still here!
Standing at 1378 feet, Brown Willy is the highest point in Cornwall, and offers resplendent vies of the area. It's a steep hike to the top and can be quite windy and cold, so be prepared. That said, it's well worth the hike to see the views of Bodmin Moor and the villages that border it.
Brown Willy is within walking distance of Altarnun, if you're a good hiker, across the open moors. While here you should also see the amazing bronze age settlements littering the hillside. I don't remember any signs pointing the way to these, so you'll have to ask someone for specifics or get a map.
That morning, as I left Truro, located further down toward the tip of Cornwall, the road conditions in town were not very good. Even as I drove along the A30 toward Altarnun, I was beset with alternate blasts of hail bouncing off the car or snow flurries! However, the further I drove east, the less severe the effects of the snow became. I did not really fancy being stuck down some hilly lane in Cornwall on a snow-covered road without proper tires! However, all worked out well in the end. This pretty scene in Altarnun was again taken by the Church of St. Nonna, and shows the beautiful old stone packhorse bridge over Penpont Water, the stream that runs through the village.
When Geoff and I were talking about the timing of my visit, he mentioned that he would also be picking up Romanian VT-member Julien that morning at about the same time. As it turned out, Geoff was returning from that pickup when he drove past me by the church! Following my precise instructions to the tiny hamlet of Treween, I soon spotted Geoff and Mary's pretty white house trimmed with yellow! It was not long afterward that this historic photo was taken!
The church of St Nonna is mainly 15th Century, with a tower that soars to 105 feet. There are a few stones from the Norman church, including the fine massive font. Part of the roof retains its original timbers.
But the best of all the woodwork is the splendid array of about 80 bench-ends by a 16th Century craftsman with men and women in Tudor costume, a piper and a fiddler, a jester with cap and bells, sword dancers, sheep on the hills, and sheaves of corn which grow into faces.
St Nonna was the mother of Saint David, patron Saint of Wales.
The famous Jamaica Inn is only four miles to the west of Altarnun. This Inn used to be a coaching Inn, as it was impossible to cross the perilous Bodmin Moor during the hours of darkness.
The Inn was immortalized by the author Daphne Du Maurier, in her book of the same name. Wheter or not the Inn was a base for smugglers is still a matter for discussion, but there does seem to be a ghost here - ask member Laura Hayward!
Not so much an activity, as you just have to gaze into the early evening sky, when the sun sinks slowly in the West. Some amazing sights!
Take a deep breath and look at our beautiful countryside! This picture is from near my home, towards Dartmoor, Devon. You can see for 25 miles or more.