St Just in Penwith

St Just in Penwith, shaped by its industrial mining past, is the most westerly town in England and began as a medieval settlement called Lafrowda. It is surrounded by dramatic landscapes of wild moorland, wind-shaped carns and Bronze Age remains. The town made its fortune from tin and the marks left by the boom of the mid-1800s still dominate. There are two squares – Bank (with its 1931 clock tower) which was the business centre (and where the miners would have collected their wages) and Market where the shops and pubs are located (and where the miners would have spent their wages).

Market Square
Bank Square

The grass amphitheatre behind the clock tower is Plen-an-Gwary (Old Cornish for ‘playing place’) where Miracle plays would have been performed 500 years ago. In more recent times it has been used to stage the full cycle again in 2004 and also to hold the Gorsedd, an important Cornish festival.

Plen-an-Gwary

The Parish Church was built in 1334 on the site of an earlier building. There are several interesting features inside including some lovely stained-glass windows, two medieval wall paintings, (one of St George fighting the dragon was a subject of Miracle plays and the other ‘Christ of the Trades’ date from the 15th century) an ancient chapel ‘font’ and intricately decorated pillar capitals with a variety of patterns, which include shields, grapes, vine leaves, quatrefoils and roses.

Parish Church

Leading to the old churchyard from Market Square is the quiet Church Square, home to some of the oldest dwellings in the town. The churchyard is being managed for wildlife and from here you get magnificent views of the Tregeseal valley. The countryside continues to delight with granite moorland and an unspoilt patchwork of ancient fields. But don’t be fooled by this cornflower blue sky – the wind was howling on this particular day and it was freezing unless you found a sheltered spot.

Church Square

The town has a free car park, regular bus services to Penzance, a library, butcher, bakers, greengrocer, pharmacy, small supermarkets, several pubs and an excellent café which also sells used books so you can feed your mind and your stomach at the same time. The Cook Book is definitely worth a visit.  The area has a thriving community of artists, potters, sculptors and other craftsmen and their work can be seen in the many galleries and craft shops in and around the town.

Quirky shop / yard

And from St Just you can take the roads (or walk) to Cot Valley, Cape Cornwall and Kenidjack Valley.

If you enjoy a walk, long or short, then have a look at Jo’s site where you are welcome to join in.

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Published by

Heyjude

I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

39 thoughts on “St Just in Penwith”

  1. How very interesting. I wouldlove to visit that quirky shop. It looks intriguing. The photos of the old buildings and wall plaques are lovely.

    1. I’ve never visited St Just until this latest trip. If I had I might have been looking there for a house rather than in Penzance. It certainly has everything you could want from a town and it is so close to the coast. So far from anywhere else though 🙂

  2. Jude, I LOVE this post – history and photos (all except the freezing wind). I’m coming back later today when I can stay awhile and absorb what you’ve shared. This one feels very special. Thank you.

  3. Your stained glass ‘St. Luke’ is crystal clear! Lovely shot 🙂 It looks a very placid place, Jude. Not that I’d want wild exactly. I’ve spent too much time in my Yorkshire villages, haven’t I? You’d like Bellingham, but that also is a bit remote, and definitely colder! But I do remember some lovely country lanes you showed me. I need something with a sea view please 🙂

    1. Stained glass is often so difficult to photograph isn’t it? Which reminds me that I must go back into St Laurence and take my new camera and see if I can get any better interior images. It is a very dark church. I’m well past the time for wild places Jo. I want peace and quiet and birds singing – no cars, no sirens, no drunks coming home from the pub – not that it is like that here you understand, but here is not close enough to the coast. Not sure I can quite manage a sea view though, unless you’d like to contribute to the house fund 🙂

      1. Not moving if I can’t have a sea view- pure and simple! Although distant, I have one here and in the Algarve. I’m a greedy person. 🙂 I have quite a few church images and stained glass but never get around to posting them. Been researching Eindhoven for my son tonight and looked at Bristol very briefly. So much to do there!!! Must send you that e. 🙂

  4. So lovely to visit St Just with you today, Jude. It would be so nice to pop into each of the places you shared and have a look around! ♡

  5. This does look like an interesting spot to wander around. I was thinking to myself that this must have been a gorgeous day, with that perfect blue sky — and then read your line about the howling wind! Oh well, it’s warm here in the office with the afternoon sun coming in. 😉

    1. The trick is to find a sheltered spot out of the wind. The two blokes on the bench outside the town hall had the right idea. We just went into the café and had lunch 🙂

    1. It was warm if you got out of the way of the wind! We went into the old churchyard where the wind just whipped across the valley and it was seriously cold, so much so I had to stop taking photos and put my hands in my pockets! The whole country was suffering from that Arctic wind that week though.

  6. What a diverse walk. The churchyard managed for wildlife? Tell me more. I know that here people often find rare native orchids in country churchyards. And what’s the story with those buxom swimmers in the header?

    1. I have a local (disused) churchyard which is used in a similar way, I’ll be posting about that soon. We didn’t stay long in this one as it was far too windy to get many photos, but I am sure I will be back. The buxom swimmers are mermaids in a lovely interiors shop. I took the photo for my Mermaid in a church post, but didn’t use it. It may well pop up in a windows post too 😉

  7. Just look at those blue skies, wow! Another delightful walk, what a lovely time you had and so many beautiful places to explore. I’ve just posted my last five photo/five story but I included my bench photo for you. A bit of a cheat I know, but the week got away from me and I won’t be able to post tomorrow before you set your new theme. Phew…got there in the end! 🙂 xxhttp://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2015/07/31/five-photos-five-stories-challenge-day-five-the-parsley-incident/

  8. I’m not surprised you are looking seriously at settling in Cornwall Jude it has so many interesting villages and gardens and places to visit. I think I would be spending some time in the Cook Book… Your new camera is taking beautiful sharp photos, you must be pleased with it and that blue sky had me fooled till I read about the wind. We had an earthquake yesterday!!!! 5.7 unbelievable!!!! No damage though…

    1. Did you feel the earthquake? We have around 20 -30 a year in the UK, but not usually greater than 4 and I have felt two of them even though both epicentres were over 50 miles away. A weird feeling when the bed moves! I am glad you didn’t have any damage.

      1. No I didn’t feel it we were with the Grandchildren and it was lots of chatting going on. I didn’t know you got them in UK. It is a very rare thing in this part of Aussie. A sign that the weather patterns are changing.

  9. What a picturesque village Jude – certainly had me fooled with the weather I though it must be very warm but wind chill makes a huge difference. We had the same here yesterday sun and bright blue skies but a very chilly wind – I was well wrapped up all the way on my walk down by the sea! Love all the pretty cottages and “The Cook Book” sounds a great spot – books and a cafe combined 🙂

        1. Never mind you can’t have too many books! We have a huge library of books upstairs – I got special shelves put in and they are all filled up now and there are books piled on the coffee table too! I am trying to be good about not buying any more too!!

  10. The first time you wrote “St Just” in a post, I thought whatever you were typing on had auto-corrected “Ives” to “Just” (it’s possible, you know). Luckily I had the sense to toddle off and check with Mr Google before I made a fool of myself in the comments.
    It was nice to meet the place today. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tour. I’ve been away – Have you found a place to live in Penwith?
    PS That’s very hard to type as there is a suburb named Penrith here, and my spellchecker is overactive. 🙂

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