Hayle: Phillack

The Parish Church of Phillack, stands high on the edge of the Towans overlooking Hayle’s Copperhouse pool. Originally dedicated to St Piala or Phillack, it was latterly changed to St Felicitas and St Piala’s Church. (Piala was the sister of Gwinear and came over from Ireland accompanied by him and 770 companions, only to be executed on arrival. Perhaps not a great idea to arrive in such a large party!) The church dates from the 12th century, but was remodelled in 1865 in typical Victorian style.

As usual my interest lies outside. A small late fourth/fifth-century Chi-Rho stone (A Christian monogram and symbol formed from the first two letters X and P of the Greek word for Christ) can be seen over the main south porch, but it is very badly worn and close by is a coped or hog-back stone which is one of only four in the county. There are several Cornish crosses. The best is the one by the main entrance which contains an elongated figure of Christ (11th century).

On the other side of the entrance, on the ground, is the head of a wheel-headed cross. I like to wander around older churchyards, and this one is particularly lovely. It is a closed churchyard (no longer used for burials) and is managed by Cornwall Council who take care of the paths and boundary walls and have a sympathetic wildlife focus which offers many ecological benefits.

The grass is cut three times a year, the first in summer after the wildflowers have seeded, the second in mid-September and the final cut in winter. As such it is an area of natural beauty with wildflowers, trees, ferns and lichens being allowed to flourish.

Phillack itself is a tiny ‘village’ or hamlet between Hayle and the dunes and is an ancient Christian and Celtic site. The pub near the church dates from the 18th century and gruesomely named the Bucket of Blood.  Legend has it that, in smuggling days, a brutally murdered customs officer was discovered at the bottom of the pub’s well when the unsuspecting landlord drew up a bucket of bloody water.
Not a long walk from the church to the pub for your Sunday lunch.


  1. restlessjo says:

    We’ve always been bloodthirsty it seems, Jude. Such a peaceful and lovely setting – who’d think it? Fabulous photos! I shall come back for a better look on the laptop 🤗💕

  2. pommepal says:

    What an interesting place for photography Jude and the bonus is a country pub for lunch within strolling distance

    1. Heyjude says:

      It would have been nice if the pub had been open, I was definitely ready for a drink by then 😊

  3. Sue says:

    What a lovely churchyard, and good to know it is sensitively managed “with wildflowers, trees, ferns and lichens being allowed to flourish.”….

    1. restlessjo says:

      Tssk! A pie and a pint 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Sue says:

        You heathen

        1. Heyjude says:

          She certainly is!

        2. Sue says:

          Yep, sadly….

        3. restlessjo says:

          Guinness, of course 🤗💕

      2. Such interesting captures! Love the place…

      3. Heyjude says:

        Sadly closed or I would have been sorely tempted. Maybe not the pint though as I was driving 🙂

    2. Heyjude says:

      And I forgot about the wildlife! Lots of rabbits around there and adders in the towans beyond the newer part of the churchyard!

  4. Absolutely lovely Jude! Everything I think of when I think of England, it’s beauty, and it’s history.

  5. margaret21 says:

    How lovely to have access to such an ancient site, though the Victorians look to have fun ‘updating’ it.

    1. Heyjude says:

      Yes, a shame that some of the churches were ’embellished’ by the Victorians. One day I’ll go inside but of course at the moment all churches are closed.

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    What a lovely walk, Jude. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit with you. It’s a reminder of how patient nature is, gradually reclaiming everything that man builds, even wearing down stone. At one time it would have made me sad to see these gravestones worn almost to the point of being unreadable. It’s like the existence of these lives is being completely erased. Now I understand it is a natural thing, but to find these little treasures is a treat.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I am hopefully that records are kept of the graves in these churchyards. I actually love the worn out stones and the wonkiness of the headstones, the wild flowers etc. so much nicer than the modern equivalents were much is so severely manicured there is no soul to the place.

      1. Joanne Sisco says:

        No argument from me on that point!

  7. What a wonderful church cemetery, Jude. And your photos are fabulous. I love how they only cut the grass three times a year, allowing it a wild look!

  8. beetleypete says:

    That’s a great find, Jude. I love those ancient grave markers.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

  9. Cathy says:

    I enjoyed reading this, Jude, and seeing your pictures too

    1. Heyjude says:

      Thanks Cathy, this has been in draft format for months! Managed to get more photos last month.

      1. Cathy says:

        Worth waiting for 😊

  10. susurrus says:

    This is a very atmospheric series – it’s lovely to see the wildflowers and grasses.

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