There are three or four new ‘kneelers’ – the flat cushions that preserve the knees of the devout – in the pews at St. Buryan Church every year. Shelia Hosking began making them in 1982. ‘We had blue kneelers and they were getting shabby and the rector said from the pulpit could some of the ladies cover them. I thought we could do some like some of the other churches had. I was a member of the West Cornwall Embroiderers, and I had a club which met at my house. It takes about four months to do one. I’ve done about 13.’ Sheila, who is too modest to be photographed, embroidered the one with the hunting scene behind which a red tractor carves grid lines through the earth, in memory of Vivian Bolitho Care, 1923-2001. ‘ He was a member of the Western Hunt and a keen ploughman, so it had to have the tractor in it.’

‘Hunting’ kneeler at St. Buryan Church West Penwith

Those in the Lady Chapel were among the first to be done. They are two long cushions made for the altar rails by Eileen Jenkins. One dated 1989 is in loving memory of dairy farmers Ashleigh and Eileen Cargeeg, illustrating the production process from cow’s udder to bottling plant and breakfast table.

‘Milking’ kneeler, St. Buryan Church

Policeman on a bicycle

Every day the afternoon sun pours through the south aisle window and bleaches the colours of the bottling shed a little fainter. The other, tucked in safely against the wall, is for John and Jane Caine, made in 1997; he was a local policeman and so here the story runs from a break-in via a telephone box and a bobby on his bicycle, to the denouement with a severe looking judge and a felon propelled towards his cell by his collar. Each picture moves the narrative on a stage with hieroglyphic clarity.

Criminal justice



 At the St. Buryan Saturday farmer’s market Jean Hosken runs the stall raising money for the church roof. Her daughter Rachel made the ‘Tool Box’ kneeler in 1995 to commemorate Jean’s son Jonathan, because he liked doing things with his hands. It has a fish embroidered on one end.

Jean’s sister in law Enid King made the ‘Trawler’ kneeler in 1987 to commemorate John Hosken who was drowned, it has a fish and an anchor on the side and is signed ‘E. King.’

Celtic cross, Salvator Mundi, St.Buryan

It costs about £30 for the materials to make each one, Jean says. ‘You have to use the same winey red colour for the background.’ They have got the kit for another but haven’t started it yet. A comparatively new kneeler shows the ancient Celtic stone cross carved with the figure of the Salvator Mundi that guards the cross-way to Buryan from the coast road.


To keep St. Buryan dry and donate towards the cost of the church’s new roof slates and lead, for which almost £100, 000 is still needed please go to




gig racing

milk churn, tractor

[All images : copyright ]