Altarnun is a pretty village that nestles in a sheltered valley on the north eastern edge of Bodmin moor.

            It’s a pretty village with a beautiful little bridge that spans a stream, and lots of old traditional cottages, given it a very picturesque post card look.

            It is dominated by the tower of the 15th century church of St Nonna, which is known as the cathedral of the moors.

            Altarnun is named in the doomsday book as Penpont; no doubt due to the fact that a stream know as Penpont water runs through the village, and under the 15th century pack horse bridge, and is a tributary of the river Inny, the modern spelling of Altarnun, is a corruption of the earlier Altarnon.

            The name Penpont was changed to Altarnon, due to a portable altar, known as the altar of St Non (or Nonna). Nonna was the mother of Saint David.

            Nonna is patron of Altarnun, Pelynt, near Looe, and Dirinon in Brittany.

Altarnun is the church where St Nonna's Alter was preserved. This Alter according to legends of Celtic Saints was the portable stone Alter that they used to carry with them. 

There is a post office in the village, as well as a butchers, and small village shop.

The post office is believed to have been recorded in Kelly’s directory in 1873, the postman then serving at the post office was a John Davies, this was back when the village was known as Penpont.

Back then John would have had the grand title of Receiver of the mail, and to this day the post office is still in the same spot.


The Church

The 15th century

They started to build the present church in the 15th century, The granite used was unquarried moor stone, this means stone that was lying on the moors, rather than stone that was actually dug from the moors.

 The other stone used is from the former Norman Church that stood on the spot, and from the Mansion of the Trelawney Family which was situated one mile to the North of the Church.  The oaks also came from Trelawney.

Trelawney mansion was given to the church, for the purpose of building a new church on the site of the former Norman church, when the Trelawney family moved to Trelawne near Looe also in the 15th Century.

It took over a generation to complete the tower to the pinnacles, which are over 100 feet from the ground. Inside you can still see the deep, padlocks used for the scaffolding poles.

The Aisles of the church were added in the second half of the 25th century, in the second half of the 25th century the Aisles of the church were added, the church is well worth a look, as it has beautifully carved Wagon Roofs.

 Before the close of the century the two porches were built, and again have beautiful carved roofs.

During the same second part of the 15th century the church was decorated with a beautiful Rood Screen, only a portion of which is still standing.

            A good site to find information about the church including changes to the church since it was built is:

   it is thanks to this site, that I was able to do the above research.

Ghost, mysteries and magic

            The holy well at Altarnun is also dedicated to St Nonna, and is believed to be able to cure madness.

            Peggy Bray

            A former land lady of the kings head public house is said to revisit the pub, in spirit form to ensure that all is running smoothly.

            Mary the housekeeper

            Penhallow Vicarage, now a private house, is haunted by two ghost, the first is Mary, (I’m assuming this is Mary Anne Creeper, age 20 who is shown in the 1851 census as living at Penhallow, at the same time as a vicar by the name of Robert Henry Tripp, age 49, and a married man.) a young girl who was said to have had an affair with the Reverend Tripp.

            Mary later drowned herself, in the nearby river, weather this was because she was not consenting in the relationship, and felt she had no other way out, or because the Reverend ended the relationship I’m not sure.

            But her Ghost has been seen dressed in grey standing by the backdoor of the house, as well as in one of the bedrooms.

            Also heard in the house are phantom footsteps, pacing up and down, believed to be that of Tripp’s.

You can email me at, if you have any information about Altarnun, such as family story’s, or sites that you would like me to add a link for.

Any information no matter how useless you think it is gratefully received. As I wish not only to talk about the area but local characters that once lived there, or events that took place there.

Thanks jossie.