Pulpit at Truro Cathedral. John Loughborough Pearson (1817-1897). 1880s. Hopton Wood stone. Photographs by Robin Banerjee, text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images for larger pictures.]

This elaborate pulpit (detail of carving), which stands at the crossing of the cathedral, was designed by Pearson himself (see Pevsner and Metcalf 290). It was in place by 1887, when it was described as "a noble offering to the Cathedral, by a donor who has enriched the building by his generosity in other ways, Canon Wise, of Ladock." The same commentary continues:

It is designed in the Decorated Style, and is constructed generally of polished Hopton Wood stone from the quarries near Wirksworth, Notts. Its moulded plinth is of Frosterley marble, in continuation of the Chancel step of the same material. The ground plan of the lower portion is that of an irregular heptagon, with bases, shafts, and caps supporting moulded groins, which work within the heptagon and against an acute-angled pier supporting the central portion of the pulpit. This pier is emphasised with a column at each angle, extending the whole height of the pulpit, the central one supporting the book-board. At the floor of the pulpit the plan becomes circular. Above the floor are six richly-carved niches, separated by diapered buttresses with pinnacles. In these niches are placed the seated figures of Noah, Moses, Elijah, St. John Baptist, our Lord, and St. Paul, Great Preachers of righteousness to the sons of men. In the spaces above the niches are small shields inscribed with emblems and monograms referring to the figures below. They are the dove with the olive branch and the rainbow, the ark of bulrushes and the burning bush, the Altar with sacrifice and fire descending, and the chariot of fire, the sword in pale with a label and the words "vox clamantis" and the Agnus bearing the banner, IHS and XPC, the initial letter P. with the swords in saltire, and the battle-axe in pale. The finials of the niches and of the pinnacles run up into the cornice, which is enriched between them with carved paterae. [The Cornish See, p. 20]

Noah can be glimpsed at the left in the picture above, holding a representation of the ark, and the close-up shows the figures of Moses with the tablet of the Ten Commandments (decorated with a Christmas wreath; the photograph was taken in December 2011), and Elijah with a raven, depicting the episode in 1 Kings 17, when the ravens bring him food.

Related Material


The Cornish See and Cathedral: Historical & Architectural Notes. Heard and Sons, Truro; London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1887. Internet Archive. Web. 6 January 2012.

Pevsner, Nikolaus and Priscilla Metcalf. The Cathedrals of England: Southern England. London: Viking (Penguin), 1985.

Victorian Web Overview Architecture Churches next

Last modified 6 January 2012