Top 5 things to see in Truro Cathedral

Those of us lucky enough to live in Cornwall all year round appreciate the vast array of things on our doorstep to do and see. From beautiful beaches and surf lessons, to tropical gardens and places of historical interest – if you’re visiting Cornwall on a time-limited holiday there’s just so much to try and cram in! That’s why we’ve created this – our ‘top 5 must-see things if you’re short on time’ guide to the cathedral – we hope it helps!

The Baptistry
This beautifully ornate part of the cathedral is dedicated to Anglican Priest Henry Martyn, a miner’s son and missionary from Truro, and includes a set of windows depicting his life. The font is made of red Breccia marble from North Africa and green Serpentine rock from the Lizard. The counterweight font cover is carved from Oak. The baptistry’s design speaks to its place at the beginning of life as a Christian: the leaf motifs at the base of the pillars, and intricately decorated vaulting and floor, make it appear as if it is bursting into life. Another example of this stunning mosaic flooring can be seen in the Chancel area. An Italian craftsman, Antonio Bertolucci, travelled to Truro from Lucca, Italy, to help lay it. He fell in love with local girl Eliza Ward, settled here, raised 5 children and was well known locally for his delicious ice cream.

The Foundation Stones
Truro Cathedral unusually has two foundation stones, laid by Prince Albert Edward, then the Duke of Cornwall  (and later King Edward VII). The first stone laid on 20 May 1880 was witnessed only by a small, select group due to limited space – it can be seen from outside, in the North East corner (at the back of the cathedral). The second stone was laid the same day in a then open grass area, where the Nave was eventually to be built. It was witnessed by thousands. At the time the building of the cathedral started, there was not enough money to fund the whole build. The laying of the second stone, a granite base to a pillar (different to the other pillars as the stone had to withstand years of exposure to the elements) symbolised the faith and belief that enough money would be raised to complete the work. You can find the foundation pillar on the south side of the Nave, noticeably different due to the grey colour of the stone.

The Windows
The cathedral’s stained glass is perhaps its crowning glory. It was the largest stained glass project ever executed and has some of the finest Victorian stained glass in the country. It was produced by the leading company of the time: Clayton and Bell. The scheme has three big themes: The Trinity, Biblical stories and the history of the English church. Alongside these are three lesser themes: Cornwall, baptism and St Mary’s Aisle. The most spectacular are the three great rose windows, which represent the Trinity.

The Finn Cross
The Finn Cross, a modern bronze sculpture made by artist Michael Finn, was permanently installed in St Monica’s Chapel in September 2018. The Finn Cross stands about eighteen inches high; but, enhanced by the glass plinth upon which it sits (made by students at Falmouth University), the cross contains a beauty, power and mystery that defies any sense of scale.

The Green Man
You will encounter the Green Man (a figure surrounded by foliage, often with leaves spilling from his mouth) in many of Britain’s cathedrals and churches. Including ours – if you look closely, you’ll find him in the southern sanctuary screen of the High Altar Reredos carvings.

If you’ve still time, there’s lots more to see and do. Our mini-guide books, which are available to purchase either at the main entrance or in the shop, provide an overview of all the key elements. If you’re visiting Monday-Thursday, you can join one of our 11am free guided tours to learn more – and for younger visitors, you can pick up our free trails. You can enjoy a browse in our fantastic shop, stocked with a range of souvenirs and gifts and our cathedral restaurant is a great place to stop for lunch, or just a coffee and cake. We hope you enjoy your visit and come back to see us again soon. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all our latest news.