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Cornwall's Maritime Churches

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An insight into ‘God’s Little Acre’ Instagram

Cornwall’s Maritime Churches Project pioneers the research and creative methodologies exhibited by all our volunteers and project followers. University of the West of England student, Emily Thornhill shares her objectives behind her Instagram channel ‘God’s Little Acre’ and treats us to a gallery of her own images.

The series ‘God’s Little Acre’ is a study of the tiny and often forgotten chapels of Cornwall, that reside in the most secluded of places. Serving sometimes only handfuls of people, these intricate buildings illustrate incredible levels of devotion and faith.

I have always been interested in the varied and extensive methods in which humanity chooses to express our faith to chosen deities and ideas of the sacred. Our commitment and devotion to such beliefs is so strong that throughout history, we have embarked on creating places for the sole purpose of worshipping them. Many feel that they are most connected to their faith whilst within such spaces, and the buildings themselves can be so intricate and beautiful, that they even have an impact on those who consider themselves to be atheist. No matter the religious preference, religious buildings act as havens that are separate from the outside world through their calm, safe and tranquil nature.

The artistry and beauty that these buildings possess, are a direct product of the faith of those that are involved in their creation and construction. Many people appreciate this display of dedication at their greatest when admiring immensely scaled constructions such as cathedrals, mosques and temples, that are visited by thousands of people every year and are known worldwide. However, I believe that small places of worship such as fishermen’s chapels humbly match the levels of devotion that towering cathedrals embody, and therefore deserve just as much attention. As these buildings have been created to serve such small quantities of people and are located in such remote and sometimes isolated places, the passion and adoration that has been poured into them by everybody involved in their making and upkeep is so special, and greatly deserves the attention of a much wider audience.

Guess the maritime church…


Whilst creating this work, it was very important for me to capture each individual chapel within the environment that they reside in, as they are often located within very picturesque landscapes. These places have been hand picked as suitable to house such important structures due to specific aspects of their nature, and there is a strong link between religious mysticism and areas of outstanding natural beauty. On top of this, Cornwall is steeped in a rich religious history from the many pilgrimage routes running through it as well as its abundance of saints, and it is these individual stories that are visualised through the creation of such interesting and unique chapels. They truly are hidden sanctuaries, that are so worth the effort of finding and experiencing for yourself.

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