The tiny hamlet of Germoe is one of those places you see the sign for on the way to somewhere else.
Picturesque and timelessly peaceful. The 14th century church sits in the middle of the cluster of houses. And in the churchyard stands a curious structure known as St Germoe’s Chair.
When John Leland, the great antiquarian, visited Cornwall in the reign of Henry VIII he mentions St Germoe’s tomb, St. Germoe’s chair and St Germoe’s well.
St Germoe’s tomb has long since disappeared but the well from which it is said the saint drank is still there and so is his so-called ‘chair’.
“Germoe’s chair has been the fruitful source of many curious speculations and ingenious theories as to its origin.” H R Coulthard.
One tradition says that it was erected by a member of the Pengersick family, although this has not been proved. And there was a suggestion that the saint’s bones were once buried beneath it. However investigations into this theory have produced nothing. No bones or other relics.
The most likely explanation then is it is a detached sedilia probably dating from the 13th century. A sedilia is a set of seats used by clergy. There are usually three, with a canopy above and some decoration. They are very rare. Why this one is where it is is a mystery.
St Germoe’s Chair fits the description rather well however. It is a small pillared structure with twin arches and a stone bench that can seat three. There are faces carved into the stone roof, now badly weathered.
Whatever its origins to this day the chair plays an important part in the community. On the Palm Sunday there is a procession to it from the church. Every year the lesson is read and a hymn sung at the chair. But it’s true age and purpose remains lost to us.
Finally the Holy Well of Saint Germoe stands just a short distance south of the church. It was restored for the Silver Jubilee in 1977.
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