Brief History of Morwenstow

The Parish of Morwenstow most likely derived from the name of:


St. Morwenna (Born around AD 480)
(Welsh: Morwyn; Latin: Morwenna; English: Morwen Celtic daughter of St Necterin, who in reality was most likely King Brychan Brycheiniog of the region of what we now call Brecon in Wales. ( he was buried on Ynys Brychan [ Lundy Island, which most days can be easly seen north west out to sea] )
King Brychan Brycheiniog was originaly from Ireland the home of the strong Celtic Christianity, spreading into Britain. His daughter was trained in Ireland before becoming one of the Welsh saints who crossed over to Cornwall.

Morwenna made her home in a little hermitage at Hennacliff (the Raven's Crag), afterwards called Morwenstow. It stands near the top of a high cliff looking over the Atlantic, where the sea is almost constantly stormy, and from where, in certain atmospheric conditions, the coast of Wales can be seen. She built a church there, for the local people, with her own hands. Legend has it that she carried the stone, on her head, from beneath the cliff, and where she once stopped for a rest, a spring gushed forth. It can still be seen to the west of the church.

The Church was most likely built on an earlier site of religious worship, there is strong evidence of occupation of the area back to the stone age, and a bronze axe head was found in West Youlstone and a hill fort was located in the area of Stanbury Manor.

In more recent history Morwenstow has been noted as the home of the

Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker

Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker Born in Plymouth 3 December, 1803, Poet and antiquary, his father soon after his birth took Holy orders and was vicar of Stratton.

Robert was a graduate of Oxford, He took his degree in 1828 and Church of England orders in 1831, after serving as a curate at North Tamerton in Cornwall, he was appointed, in 1834, vicar of Morwenstow, a parish with a dangerous rocky coast. Here until his death he lived an active life as the pastor of a sea-faring-farming population, and gave liberally of his means to the parish. Amongst other things he restored the church and parsonage, established a school.

From the many wrecks round the coast of his parish he succored escaped sailors and buried the washed-up bodies of those who were drowned. Beyond these activities he was all enthusiastic student of the history and legends of the Cornish people which he embodied in many prose essays as well as in his poems.

In 1832, he published his first important piece of work, "Records of the Western Shore", until the end of his life he produced a long series of romantic and religious poems, the finest of which is the "Quest of the San Graal", and the most famous the "Ballad of Trelawney". His religious views as embodied in his preaching and in these poems were those of the Tractarians ( Tractarians formed in Oxford, were concerned with a renewed emphasis on the sacraments. They were also instrumental in stirring up the Church's concern for the welfare, both spiritual and material, of the working classes ).

In 1863 his wife died, and his loneliness became extreme. In 1864 he married again, a Polish lady, Pauline Anne Kuczynski, by whom he had three daughters. Hawker's impulsive and artistic temperament led him into continual acts of generosity as well as of imprudence which kept him pecuniary embarrassed. These difficulties increased as years went on doubtless undetermined his health, which began to fail in 1873. On his death-bed, 14 August, 1875, he was received into the Catholic Church.


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