1. The Parish.
Duloe is a Celtic place name but its meaning is not certain. Some say it means two rivers being between the East and West Looe rivers but others point out that Dhu – Loo means Black Pool and until recent times there was a dark pool in the hollow near the original village well. It could also mean God’s river – Du-Loo. The deep valleys of the East and West Looe rivers run parallel to the high ridge (600 feet above sea level) on which Duloe and its church stand. The parish is very scattered and consists of the village of Duloe and the hamlets of Tredinnick and Hill.
The Duloe Stone Circle is late Bronze Age and made of white quartz from Herodsfoot, 2 miles away. The stones are aligned to the points of the compass, indicating that this was a ceremonial or religious site. In 1861 a Bronze Age burial urn was discovered buried in the centre of the circle. A gold bracelet of the same period was found half a mile away, it is known as the Duloe Torque and is now in the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.
The church is built on a circular mound which was probably an Iron Age Fort. Later it became a Celtic Christian sacred site in Cornish a Lan (cf. Welsh – Llan). This would be for burials and often had a small chapel for a hermit or priest on the north side of the circle. The present church may well be built over such a chapel. St Cuby’s Well on the road to Looe, about half a mile from the church, is of unknown age. The inner chamber is ancient and the steps down into the water might indicate that it was a place of baptism. In 1913 a much grander entrance was constructed out of granite at a cost of £23 raised by subscription. For centuries a stone bowl was outside the well but in the 1820’s vandals pulled the bowl away and rolled it down the hill for 2 miles. Years later it was found in a garden at Trenant Park and in 1959 it was placed in the church. More photographs and details regarding the well can be found here:
The parish contains several old Manors, of which Bodbrane, Trenant, Lanwarnick, Killigorick, and Tremadart appear to be mentioned in ‘ Doomsday Book. With the exception of Trenant, all these are now farm houses. Tremadart (old Tremetheret) was the most important and was held by such families as Hywys (Hewis), Colshull, Tresilian, Whittington, Arundel and Anstis. Other families, resident at different tunes in one or other of the Manors, were the Kendall, Bastard, Killilow and Bewes families. John Anstis, Garter King of Arms in the 17th century, though he owned Tremadart, preferred to live in another house on his estate known as Westnorth. His example was copied by his successors and Tremadart was never again occupied by the Lord of the Manor. The ownership of the bulk of the rest of the parish has now passed from the Church Commissioners to the Duchy of Cornwall.
2. The Benefice.
The living of Duloe was originally in the patronage of the Lord of Tremadart Manor. The endowments were sufficient to support both a sinecure Rector and a Vicar, the former appointing the latter to look after the parish in return for a small proportion of the Tithe.
This arrangement was more general before 1250 than subsequently, and frequently led to quarrels between Rector and Vicar. In 1705 Balliol College, Oxford, bought the advovson and the Master and Fellows then became the patrons. Finally, in 1844, the two appointments were merged in one Rector, who thenceforth resided in and took charge of the parish, the office of the Rector thus ceasing to be, as it sometimes had been, a sinecure.
Since the living has been in the patronage of Balliol the appointments of Rector (and Vicar) have often been from among the Fellows and Graduates of that College. The Rev. Robert Scott, DD, the co-author of Liddell & Scott’s Greek Lexicon and afterwards Master of Balliol was Vicar in 1840 and Rector in 1844—being the first to combine the two offices in one. A list of Rectors and Vicars can be seen in the Church in the panels of the Screen. The Vicarage, now demolished, formerly stood on the south side of Vicarage Lane in the field called Vicarage Homer, facing (the Stone Circle.
In 1936 the benefice of Herodsfoot, formerly in the patronage of the Rector of Duloe, was united to the Benefice of Duloe. In recent years the parishes of Morval and St Pinnock were added to the group and together this group of parishes formed part of other larger groups until settling to become the United Benefice of Duloe, Herodsfoot, Morval and St Pinnock. This situation altered once more in 2016 when just St.Cuby and Herodsfoot were formally combined to form one benefice.
3. The Building
Of the Celtic and Norman Churches, which must have stood in this spot, there are now no traces. There is, however, a small square stoup which Charles Henderson identified as late Norman. This is now in use again as a holy water stoup at the main entrance.
In 1309 Sir Nicholas he Carleton was given the benefice of Duloe by the King as guardian of the heirs of Bodrugan. In 1311 Sir Gilbert Bard was said to be the Vicar of Duloe, by 1318 Nicholas Carleton, Rector of Duloe, was complaining that Gilbert Bard, chaplain, had entered his house at Duloe and carried off the beam of the said house and that he had also pastured cattle in Nicholas’s corn. Clearly these two gentlemen did not get on. Nicholas seems to have been removed from this rich living shortly after as by 1321 the Rectory was in the gift of the Lords of the Manor of Tremadart. On 15th October that year Bishop Stapeldon dedicated the parish church at Duloe. He wrote at the time that the place was in poor repair and although he had warned the Rector to repair the buildings the warning had been ignored and he had been forced to ‘seize all the fruits of his Rectory’.
The church has an unusual plan for a Cornish church. The tower is not at the west end but attached to the south transept. It dates from the 13th century. Its top stage was taken down in 1861. Although the present pyramidal roof is 19th century it is an imitation of the original top.
This building was probably cruciform and the present tower and the double lancet window in the south transept, now the organ chamber, belong to it. The south wall, the south transept walls and the chancel and nave terminal walls must also have belonged, but these were wholly rebuilt in 1861. The tower is massive, and is all 13th century work, with its primitive single lancet windows, with the exception of the modern doorway and the pyramidal roof. Up to 1861 it had a third storey, probably a 15th century addition, with a battlemented top, but this was removed in the 1861 restoration because the tower appeared to be leaning dangerously over the Church. The pointed arch between the tower and the south transept was blocked up at an early date, thus indicating that the tower began to lean many centuries ago. When this arch was blocked up, the existing outer doorway of the Tower was cut through what was originally a window. It is an interesting speculation that this unusually massive tower may have originally supported a spire. As pointed out by the Rev. J. C. Cox in his County Churches, Cornwall (1912), there was a certain amount of steeple building in Cornwall during that period of the Early English style of architecture.
Of 14th century work there is but little to be seen. Probably only the plain arched south doorway and the pilasters of the Chancel windows date from this century.
4 The Life of St. Cuby
St. Cybi (Cuby)was an important Celtic Saint who founded a monastic settlement within ‘Caer Gybi,’ the Roman Fort named after him. Although you will not find him in the major lists of saints, he is recognised as a ‘Pre-congregational saint,’ beatified and canonised by patriarchs and local devotees. He has a place in the Universal Calendar of the Western Church. In 480 AD Kebius, Cuby or Cybi was born in Kernow- Cornwall, at Callington close to Plymouth. His father was Selyf, a Cornish Chieftain and great grandson of Cystennin Gorneu, thought to be the grandfather of King Arthur. Cybi’s mother was Gwen, sister of Non, the mother of St. David, so Cybi was first cousin to our patron Saint. His mother was the descendant of Vortigern, (Gwrtheryd) a British Chief of the early 5th Century. As a young man he declined to succeed his father and became a Christian monk. Being of a rich Romano-British family he would have been well-educated.
With ten disciples he crossed to Gaul, travelling and founding churches.
Eventually he returned across the Channel, landing in Cornwall. He must have escaped unwelcome attentions from those who thought he wanted to reclaim his father’s territory. He managed to found more churches. The first was at Tregony. He lived in a cell next to a well.
There is a Cuby’s Well there to this day. This is the modern church on the site, in the Parish of St. Cuby the Abbott. From here he would have undertaken missions to the surrounding countryside. He is also remembered as Cubyus at the Church of St. James, Lew Trenchard in Devon. His portrait is on the Rood Screen. He moved to Morgannwg, South Wales and founded two churches in Usk. There is a Llangybi there today. He did not get on with King Edelig so left and spent three days with his cousin David at Mynyw, (Menevia)-St. David’s. With his disciples he set sail for Ireland and joined an important Irish Celtic religious centre on the bleak island of Arran, Galway Bay.
Presiding here was St. Enda at Cill Éine and Cybi’s oratory may well have been at Teaghlach Éinne. They stayed on Inis Mór for four years, living alongside the Irish monks and building his small oratory.
They may have dwelt in clocháns which are a feature of this island.
Four of his disciples are named.
They are Llibio; Peulan, the brother of Gwenfaen the Rhoscolyn saint; Maelog of Llanfaelog and Cyngar, Cybi’s uncle. All have churches on Anglesey. St Cyngar’s church is at Llangefni.
Cyngar was older and had lost his teeth. A milking cow was kept to provide him with food and this caused a major dispute between Cybi’s group and the Irish monks. First of all Maelor dug the ground too close to the entrance of a leading Irish monk’s cell. Crubthir Fintan became angry and then furious when the cow raided his vegetables. He called on God to blot Cybi out of the island. Cybi decided to leave, cursing Fintan, ‘May God destroy him out of this island!’ Cybi’s group crossed to the mainland and settled briefly at Mochop, near Artaine in Meath.
He impressed the monks by fasting for forty days and nights. He was accepted but Fintan heard about this and pursued them, driving them out.
Cybi made two more attempts to settle in Kildare but again Fintan harassed them. Cybi prayed, ‘May all thy churches be deserted and may never be found three churches singing at thy altar in all Ireland!’ Perhaps it was answered because nothing further was heard of Fintan. Dejected they crossed the Celtic sea to the Lleyn Peninsular. Cybi settled at Llangybi, near Pwllheli, where he set about preaching and converting the local population. The Holy Well and the small Church of St. Cybi are still there on the site. One story is that Maelgwn, King of Gwynedd granted him all the land that a goat could encircle in one day. Maelgwn’s hounds pursued it and it returned to Cybi. At the same time Maelgwn banished one of his disciples, Caffo, because he was the brother of Gildas who had slighted him. Caffo was martyred at Rhosyr where local shepherds killed him. Cybi’s stay on the Lleyn was not destined to last. It was not long before he quarrelled with the locals and they threw him out! He appealed to Maelgwn Gwynedd, whose palace was at Deganwy, and he granted him the use of the abandoned Roman fort at Pentre Gwyddel, known later as Caergybi, then Holyhead. Another version is that Cybi was forced to ask Caffo to depart from him, because of Maelgwn’s hostility. Maelgwn engineered his martyrdom. Cybi was furious and extracted the right to use the Caer as a form of penance for the blood of Caffo. So Cybi and his followers came to Holyhead and founded the first Church of St Cybi within the fort. This was the start of a monastic settlement known as a Clâs. It was founded in 540 AD and remained a religious centre of that kind until the Reformation in the 16th Century. One of the most famous stories of our quarrelsome saint is his friendship with St. Seiriol, whose oratories were at Penmon and on Puffin Island, the opposite corner of Anglesey.
An Icon at the Russian Orthodox Church at Blaenau Ffestiniog shows both these saints at the wells of Clorach in the centre of Anglesey. This hangs also at the Chapel of St. David in St. Cybi’s Church. Cybi would travel regularly to Clorach to meet Seiriol. On his journey in the morning he would face the sun, as he would returning in the evening. Seiriol had his back to the sun both ways. They were known as ‘Seiriol Wyn a Chybi Felyn.’ (White Seiriol and Tawny Cybi) Cybi continued his ministry here to the end of his life.
It is not clear whether he was made a bishop, though one source gave him the prestigious title of ‘Archbishop of Gwynedd.’
The monastery was important and it was said Cybi was consulted about doctrine, including the differences between the Celtic and Roman Churches- this before the Synod of Whitby which was held after Cybi’s death. In the year 554 AD, at the age of 84, Cybi died. “The Angels came and took the most Holy Soul of Cybi to Heaven.” He left a legacy of his cult which exists today. He is venerated here and at several Churches elsewhere in Wales, Devon and Cornwall. His relics were taken from the Clâs in 1405 during Owain Glyndwr’s rebellion.