St Sampson's Church, Golant, Cornwall
St Sampson’s Church, Golant, Cornwall
This is St Sampson’s Church in Golant, Cornwall. Perched high on a hill overlooking the beautiful estuary of the River Fowey, it’s one of the places where Samson founded a religious community and spent time. His well still exists here, to the left of the front porch and it’s thought the current church is built on the site of his original prayer oratory. It must be one of the most beautiful situations for any church, as the churchyard looks right down the ever-changing tidal river and is full of wildflowers. Set slightly apart from the actual village, adjacent to a farm, it’s a quiet place of solitude.
However, it’s also one of the places I love to visit to seek God and pray. Why? - because it’s still one of the ‘thinnest’ places in the Spirit realm that I know locally to where I live in Cornwall. Whenever I visit, I find myself immediately aware of God’s presence. There’s a special hush, a peace which pervades the church and it’s easy to worship, easy to pray, easy to find peace from the stresses of everyday life. My spirit instantly settles, and I can talk readily to God. He hears my heart-cry, often expressed through poetic prayers and He speaks to me too.
Perhaps it’s because there’s been uninterrupted continual prayer in this place for over 1500 years. The very walls are permeated with the prayers and worship of Christians who have gone before me. Yet I don’t find this in many churches. St Sampson’s is special.
Interestingly, I had a similar experience when visiting St Kew’s church, in St Kew in north Cornwall. This is another Celtic site associated with Samson and one of Brychan’s children Kew. I went with a friend and we sat worshipping God together, singing. Suddenly, in unison we found ourselves singing a beautiful chant spontaneously which neither of us had sung before. It sounded like an ancient sound, a bit like a Gregorian chant and we sang in harmonies and melodies for quite some while together. There was a similar sense of God’s hush and ancient presence with us during the whole time.
Recently I realised I hadn’t asked God why there is such a sweet fragrance of His presence at St Sampson’s Church, Golant. Instead of answering me directly, I had a vision. In it I could see a beautiful angel stationed outside the porch leading into the church. It is almost as tall as the church roof. The angel is winged, golden, in full armour with a sword but it seems to be at rest, watchful and alert, with its sword pointing downwards into the ground. I sense this angel is guarding the anointing of Samson’s well in this place and that its role is to keep the deposit of God’s Spirit here safe, ready for another move of God. Perhaps it’s waiting for the children of God to rise once more in faith and expectation of a visitation of God. Afterall, He moved here in Celtic times and again with William Haslam in Victorian times.