Making Space for Nature enhancements begin at site of medieval Cornish colligate church

A new phase of enhancements at Glasney College, Penryn, aiming to better reflect the site’s heritage significance, has begun.

This green space is the site of a great church, which was built around 1265 and dismantled around 300 years later. One of the wonders of medieval Cornwall, the church was comparable in grandeur to Exeter Cathedral and the community of clergy who lived there wrote the Ordinalia plays in the Cornish language, which are still performed today.

In 2019, Cornwall Council carried out works to improve public access and the presentation of the site. Granite was laid to show the position of the tower and the course of the south front of the church. The site was also given a new entrance.

This autumn, funding through the Green Infrastructure for Growth 2 project: Making Space for Nature, is enabling continued enhancements that will further evoke the rich heritage of the site and create a calm inviting space for contemplation.

The latest works are designed to provide improved habitat value, while ensuring the site, which has been designated as a Scheduled Monument by Historic England, is not disturbed.

A new garden will be created at the former focal point of the church - the location of the tower. The garden will include raised flower beds with pollinator-friendly plant species inspired by the flowers and herbs found in medieval abbey gardens.

A sculpture which has been inspired by some of the master mason’s designs that have been discovered in the ruins of the church will also be installed.

With the project enhancing both natural diversity and heritage interest, it is hoped that more of the rich environment of ancient Glasney will be evoked for visitors to enjoy.

The plans were developed in consultation with Historic England and the Cornwall Archaeological Unit, which will be assisting the Making Space for Nature team and analysing any finds that are uncovered during the works.

Councillor Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change at Cornwall Council, said: “It is vitally important that we preserve this wonderful site which has so much history.

“This project will benefit both nature as well as the residents and visitors who use the space and I’m delighted to see these works are now underway.”

If you would like to be involved in volunteering opportunities at this site or others being enhanced by Making Space for Nature, please email or call Becky, Cormac’s urban ranger, on 07796996351.

The Making Space for Nature project (Green Infrastructure for Growth 2) is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with Cornwall Council and University of Exeter providing match funding.

The team from Cornwall Archaeological Unit and Cormac will be delivering the Making Space for Nature led scheme on-site in coming weeks. Part of the project is to carefully re-expose the remaining wall of the medieval church, visible in the image above.

From Left: Cathy Parkes (Cornwall Archaeological Unit), Jacqui Owen, Howard Burns, Gary Beazley and Mike Hadfield (Cormac).

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