Barnoon Cemetery

I have a somewhat odd fascination with churches and churchyards. I am not remotely interested in the religious aspects, but I find the architecture of the buildings, the craftsmanship that goes into the exteriors and interiors, the feeling of peace inside and the nature  and history that can be gleaned from the headstones in very old cemeteries very appealing.

I have visited the Barnoon cemetery before, but could not find one particular grave I was looking for – that of the artist Alfred Wallis (18 August 1855 – 29 August 1942) – who was a Cornish fisherman and artist in his latter years. His paintings are an excellent example of naïve art; perspective is ignored and an object’s scale is often based on its relative importance in the scene. I can’t say that I am a fan of it. Wallis sold few paintings and continued to live in poverty until he died in the Madron workhouse near Penzance. He is buried in Barnoon cemetery, overlooking St Ives Porthmeor beach and the Tate St Ives gallery. An elaborate gravestone, depicting a tiny mariner at the foot of a huge lighthouse – a popular motif in Wallis’ paintings – was made from tiles by the potter Bernard Leach and covers Wallis’ tomb. Source: Wikipedia

Last week I spent over an hour in freezing cold temperatures thoroughly searching the cemetery and finally discovered it! I also took one or two other photos of headstones that I found particularly eye-catching.

There are several Celtic crosses naturally, but several different designs.

And the view over Porthmeor beach and the island where St Nicholas’s chapel sits in isolation at the top, providing an excellent spot to look out over the beaches and town.

This has to be one of the prettiest locations for your final resting place..



  1. beetleypete says:

    I’m with you on headstones, and unusual church locations. I wonder if that interesting graveyard will one day be lost to rising sea levels.
    I like naive art, and enjoy the lack of perspective as a rule. I have seen Wallis’ paintings of ships, and read about the many fake examples that have been sold, claiming to be his work.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Heyjude says:

      This particular graveyard is quite high up from the sea (I know because I have climbed up before now and it’s very steep!) And all the graves appear to be at the very top.

      1. beetleypete says:

        Good to hear. 🙂

  2. bushboy says:

    I love cemeteries. The largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere was my playground

    1. Heyjude says:

      Which one is that then?

      1. bushboy says:

        The Rookwood Necropolis. I lived down the road on the Lidcombe side. Used to ride bicycles around the many roads as there wasn’t much traffic and everyone drove slowly

  3. Sadje says:

    Interesting post.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have been meaning to post about the cemetery for a couple of years now, but wanted to find the lighthouse first!

  4. Joanne Sisco says:

    The weathering of old headstones looks so different in your photos compared to here. I’m thinking that the salt air likely causes a very different erosion than what we get inland from fresh water. I find it quite fascinating actually.

    I too tend to take photos of stones and statues that catch my eye. In some small way, I feel like I’m paying tribute to this unknown person and the life they lived. The photo of the cross wrapped in heavy chain to an anchor is so poignant and rather haunting. The symbolism of being forever anchored to this spot feels sorrowful to me whereas the image of walking towards to the Light(house) feels like a “new beginning”.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I am sure the salty air has a big effect on corroding the stone – it does on my car too!! There are plenty of lichens because there is little pollution here. I like your thought about the two headstones.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I echo the previous comment about the difference in the surface of the stones due to your climate. Ours just generally erode away, leaving fragments of names. As a child my brother and I loved to explore the cemetery across from my grandparents’ farm. We were especially intrigued by the stones with photo inserts of soldiers. Thanks for the photos of the unusual stones, especially the one with the anchor and chain.

    1. Heyjude says:

      A shame I couldn’t read the inscription on that particular headstone. I can only assume it belongs to a fisherman or someone who was lost at sea.

      1. Elizabeth says:

        That makes sense.

  6. Chloris says:

    Great fun pottering about in old churchyards and reading the epitaphs. I love this one, what a location.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I find that many churchyards have the best views in town!

  7. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I didn’t know that about you, me too!

  8. I don’t think that’s odd at all, it’s a fascination I share as you’ve possibly noticed! I wish we’d found this when we were in St Ives. The angel at the end with the pink flower reminds me of my favourite angel in the Necropolis here who used to have a pink flower, but hasn’t for a couple of years. Whoever was replacing it must have given up.

  9. Sue says:

    I share your fascination with churches and churchyards, for much the reasons you state, Jude!

  10. restlessjo says:

    There are some lovely images here, Jude. I’ve not seen a gravestone with pictorials like the lighthouse, and your angelic folk are great. Tired tonight after an early start, walking this morning and Portuguese lesson this afternoon. Just about squeezed Rafa in. 🙂 🙂

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