North Hill Church is a large building in the centre of North Hill village or ‘churchtown’ as it used to be known. The church is dedicated to St Torney. The age of the church is believed to be over 600 years. St Torney’s Holy Well is situated on the nearby River Lynher. The first incumbent is recorded in 1269. In 1292 the parish was assessed for tax in the sum of nine marks (£6). The patron at that time was John de Moels or Mules.
The final service in St Torney's took place on Sunday 17th March 2019, bringing Christian worship on this site for, perhaps, over 900 years to an end ; you can read the report on the final service as published in the North Hill Parish Newsletter for April 2019. The long term planned future of the building has not yet been made public. In the interim, visitors wishing to access the church may do so by appointment. Please contact us at the Local History Group for the latest details on how to gain access.
Parts of the sanctuary and chancel are 14th century, or even perhaps earlier than this, and the rest was built in the late 15th to 16th century. It has been suggested that St Torney’s and St Anietus in St Neot were built by the same masons using similar plans. The church was restored in 1868.
The chancel is built of stone rubble. There are two 14th century ogee niches on either side of the east window, a piscina and credence, a sedilia in the south wall, which, though much restored has pillars of polished serpentine and a tomb or Easter Sepulchre in the north wall with an elaborate 14th century ogee arch.
Ashlar granite has been used in the north aisle and fine regular granite ashlar blocks can be found in the south aisle, south porch (with chamber above) and the west tower. The nave comprises four bay arcades with slim monolith granite pillars of standard Cornish design carrying wide arches and original wagon roofs.
The north aisle was built in the period 1495-1504. Its building was sponsored by the Courtenay family who held the Manor of Landreyne at that time. The evidence and reasoning for this is fascinating and can be seen by clicking on the link above. The south aisle was built a decade or so later and is so dominated by the Spoure monument that they were almost certainly the sponsors of the building of this part of the church.
There is an undecorated Norman font made of freestone standing on a granite base. The west tower and south aisle are of regular granite blocks and probably worked by the same masons that worked at St Neot Church. The tower has three stages, is buttressed on the square, and is finished with battlements and crocketted pinnacles. The tower’s 3-light west window has intersecting tracery which is probably late 18th century but with an unusual band of carved roundels near the sill. The belfry contains six bells. There is a sundial on the wall of the south porch dated 1753.
There are four significant 17th century monuments in the church. Three are dedicated to members of the Spoure family and one to Thomas Vincent. On the south wall is a slate tombcover with a skull to Henry Spoure who died in 1603. Nearby is the 1683 memorial to his descendant Henry Spoure who died in 1688, aged 10, and next to this is a coloured slate commemorating Richard Spoure who died as an infant in 1623. In the north west corner is an elaborately carved slate tomb, dated 1606, in memory of Thomas Vincent (of Battens) and his wife, Jane. Jane died in 1601 and hers is the earliest death commemorated in the church.