Christianity came to Cornwall before Augustine's mission in 597. There is speculation that the church was founded with the coming of a Welshman, named Gluvias, on a mission to his fellow Celts in the sixth century. It is presumed after his death his converts erected a wooden structure over his grave. His feast day is the third of May. The Saxons made more permanent structures erected mainly of wood. In Norman times the area covered by this church was called Bethethlan. Following the erection of the Collegiate Church of Glasney, the bishops of Exeter took over a residence outside of the College grounds which was referred to as the Bishop's Palace. It was a common practice that an ecclesiastical peculiar be created around a Bishop's residence. This meant the establishment of a Church Court of the Peculiar of St. Gluvias with Budock. Up until the middle of the 19th century wills and administrations were conducted through this court.
A new stone church was dedicated July 25, 1318 to St. Gluvias the Martyr. The Church served both Penryn and Falmouth until 1664 when the parish of Falmouth was created and split from St. Gluvias. The body of the church was rebuilt in the 18th century and restored to 15th century style in 1883. A church charity school for girls was established in 1802 and a school for boys in 1805. These were said to be the first of their kind in Cornwall. In 1880, a chapel of ease of St. Michael and All Angels was built at Ponsanooth within the parish of St. Gluvias. In 1882, a start was made at restoring the church.Incumbents
No poor law documents have survived for this parish.
St. Gluvias fees in 1826.
Parish Chest Materials available on microfilm from LDS:
In 1534, Henry VIII separated the English Church from Rome. A nationwide order was given in 1538 that each parish keep a register of baptisms, marriages, and burials. These entries were made on paper. In 1597, entries were to be made on parchment instead of paper. Very few of the original entries made on paper have survived. Copies of registers were to be sent annually to the bishop of the diocese and these copies were known as Bishop's Transcripts.
Parish registers available in the Cornish Record Office
Bishop's transcripts available in the Devon Record Office
Available on this website
Available in the IGI
Parish register transcriptions
Available on microfilm from LDS
Images available online from LDS
The foundation was laid on March 25, 1265 by Walter Bronescombe, Bishop of Exeter. Glasney is what gave Penryn its chief importance and made it famous throughout Europe. Bronescombe consecrated the church and churchyard on March 27, 1267. It had twin dedications to St. Thomas Becket and to the Virgin Mary. It was the finest of the Cornish collegiate houses. It had three fortified towers of granite and a chain boom across the creek to protect from pirate attacks. The tithes of fourteen parishes were appropriated to the College.
During the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, John Calesteke was dragged through the streets of Penryn and bound to a cross. Several persons from the Penryn area took part in the Cornish Rebellion of 1497. During this rebellion the provost of Glansey Sir John Oby was slew and dismembered in Taunton. In the 14th and 15th centuries the bishops had occasion to discipline Glasney for lack of accounting, for dissolute living, and for lack of maintenance of the fabric.
In 1509 with the accession of Henry VIII, the monarch took exception to the memory of St. Thomas Becket and it was felt advisable to emphasize the other dedication to the Virgin Mary. The name of St. Thomas is regularly erased and written over in surviving cartulary. The Dissolution of the Monasteries was begun in 1536. The shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canterbury was dismantled in 1538.
The dissolution of Glasney occurred in 1548. There were proposals to save the buildings by converting into a parish church, but these failed. The buildings were dismantled beginning in 1549. The land past to John Pendarves of Crowan. The old buildings were used as a quarry for the town of Penryn in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1824 it was reported that nothing remained of the buildings. The dissolution of the college has been said to have been one of the causes of the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. Penryn, in particular, was a hotbed of dissent.
The burgess of Penryn established their own chapel of the Virgin Mary (sometimes referred to as St. Thomas) in the street now known as Market Street before 1322. On December 2nd, 1374 the chapel of St.Thomas was licensed for the inhabitants of the town of Penryn. There was a close connection between Glasney Collegiate Church and St. Gluvias. In 1546, with the dissolution of Glasney Church, the burgess chapel of St. Mary was appropriated to the Crown. It was abolished in 1549 and demolished in 1676. A market house was built on the site of the chapel from proceeds from the sale of Glasney. The mid-street town hall and the old market house (now housing the museum) stand on the site of the chapel of St. Mary.
It was a chapel attached to the Bishop's residence at the foot of Hill Head. It was no longer used some time before 1801.
The Methodists were active in Penryn from the 1740's. John Wesley visited between 1748 and 1770. They meet in 1755 in a room at the back of the Penryn Main Street. A chapel was built in 1789 in Chapel lane. A new and present day Chapel was opened February 13th, 1893.
A Sunday School was started in 1812 and the Methodist School was built in 1813.
Parish registers available in the Cornish Record Office:
Available in the IGI
Parish Register Transcriptions
Founded in Penryn in 1805. First church was built in 1805 and opened Jan 1, 1806 on New Street. Closed 1934
Parish registers available in the Cornwall Record Office
Available in the IGI
Parish register transcriptions:
The chapel built 1860 at the bottom of St. Thomas street. This building was acquired by Roman Catholics and destroyed by bombing in 1941.
The Bible Christian chapel was built in 1866 in New Street.
Started in Penryn in 1882 in a building behind the West Street Post Office. It was joined with Falmouth in 1944.