The Building of Talland Church

Talland Church

Long, long ago - eight hundred years ago to be precise, forty men from Talland, Lanreath and Polperro set too to build a church. They amassed a large amount of rocks and dug good foundations. They decided the best place for a church was between Looe and Polperro and the stones went up quick enough. That night as the men were packing away they heard a voice drifting through the dusk,

"If you will my wish fulfil,
Build a church on Talland hill"

They laughed a little nervously, then dismissed their feelings of unease about the strange voice and set off home. When the men returned in the morning, all their hard work and sweat was undone. Every stone had been removed from the foundations and piled haphazardly by the track to the sea. Starting again was the only option as the men were in need of payment for their labours and the chief wouldn't be giving anything for a pile of stones. The work went quicker as they could remember how things had gone. As night fell and dark clouds rolled toward them across the sea, a voice came to the builders clear as could be,

"If you will my wish fulfil,
Build a church on Talland hill"

They laughed it off again jibing as to who the prankster was amongst them, though quite a number of the builders spent a few minutes checking the strength and quality of their work to ensure it could not be undone by morning. With every stone firmly in place, and all the tools for lifting stones removed, just in case, the church builders went wearily home.

The next morning it had happened again and the next and the next until the men were frustrated and weary and inclined to fulfil the wishes of the ghostly voice just so as to escape this terrible cycle of nightly deconstruction. And that is just what they did, they

"Did the wish fulfil,
And built the church on Talland hill"

A lovely wish it was too, because the church at Talland is well known as the prettiest haunted place to be found. Trees grow all about it and many alterations have been made but it boasts ornately carved wooden benches to sit on and a gothic tower peering far out to sea. Talland Church has always had a stern wall all about it because the builders were not going to be totally overwhelmed by the wishes of a ghostly voice and they did not want the new church over run by spirits. It's a good job they used their spare stones to build the wall around the church to keep it safe and holy. On dark nights, past the gates runs a cart with a fleeing smuggler on his way to Polperro harbour with a good load of rum. He is pursued by the customs and about to lose his head.

The spirits of the smugglers are all about at night but over the years the church has always stood splendid on the cliff's edge drinking in and giving out the purest sea born light.

retold by Anna Chorlton

  • Looe