St Enodoc was one of the batch of churches I wrote about for this website. Shortly afterwards I was contacted Philip Chatfield who is the sculptor of the “MARIA ASUMPTA” memorial (above). He very kindly provided the photograph (which was considerably better than my own!) and also the one below that he took whilst he was actually carving it. Remarkably, Philip was on board the ship when it sank.
Philip explained to me that:
“As regards Maria Asumpta, she was the loveliest of all the ships I have sailed. I spent five years with that ship and knew every part of her. Her loss grieves me still, but she had a destiny of her own. Built in Badalona, near Barcelona in 1858, her maiden voyage was to Buenos Aires carrying textiles. She was a very elderly Lady in 1995 but was lovely to sail, and work aloft. She was of a different era, and we sailed her in the old traditional way. However, she was lost and three crew went with her. I knew them and it was my wish, and of the Friends of MARIA ASUMPTA, to create some form of lasting memorial to go in the church nearest the wreck site”
“I was the sculptor who designed and carved and fixed into position the slate memorial to the Brig MARIA ASUMPTA which is in the church. This was done eleven years after the wreck which happened in 1995. I was one of the 11 survivors and first to leave the ship that fateful day. I still carry some injuries, thankfully minor, from the shipwreck. I was told that the memorial is unique to Cornwall, being carved by a 'survivor' of a shipwreck.”
“Lastly, I had to create something which was fitting for a 'memorial' and also for it to sit happily within the Sacred Space that is St Enodoc, along with the John Betjeman connections. As I frequently work with Abbeys and churches I think I was a more acceptable proposition as a sculptor than could have been.”
I am a bit of a Betjeman fan myself and, of course, he was famous for his love of the English parish church. I am sure he would have approved of the memorial being sited at his beloved St Enodoc.
Philip Chatfield was also responsible for, amongst other things, the Lord Nelson memorial stone aboard HMS Victory, carved from Spanish marble from Cape Trafalgar.