A brief History of St Just

The present Church is mainly of the late 15th. Century. lt is believed to
have been built by Henry Bodrugan who was one of wealthiest and most
powerful landowners in Cornwall at the time. He is also thought to have
been responsible for the first quay in Gorran Haven.


After the Reformation when many other churches were vested in the
Crown this little gem seems to have passed into secular use. By the late
18th century it had become a fish cellar. At the start of the 19th Century
the Church was in a very sad state - there was no roof and the walls
were in poor state of repair. Some restoration was done in the early
years of the century, but it was not until 1885 that a full restoration
was carried out by Piers St. Aubyn, St. Aubyn is credited with ruining
half the Churches in Cornwall by his restorations, but St. Just seems to
have been more favourably treated.


St Just was licensed by Bishop Wilkinson on 27th. May 1885 passing
into the hands of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from the
Edgcumbes who had held it since the Reformation. This Chapel of Ease to St. Goran consists of a Chancel, Nave and West Tower and though it is probable that parts of it rest on very ancientfoundations, there is no evidence of an earlier building on the site. The windows are largely original and have beautiful interior arches which are unusual features in Cornwall. Because of the thoroughness of the 1885 restoration it is difficult to determine in some places what of the older building actually remains especially as no records exist of what
work may taken place earlier. The lofty tower arch is a good example
of Cornish work of its day. At the south end of the altar is a late 15th
or 16th century granite bracket apparently not in its original position
whilst to the north are two openings in the wall which may have formed
space for a Holy Well, the water for which seems to have flowed from
the outside.


Before leaving, the visitor should notice the Altar Rails made from the
purloins of a Cornish roof. They are same as the remains of the two
roofs in the Parish Church and in the former vicarage. Probably one
originally covered the Parish Church and the other this Church. The
present roof follows the lines of the old which it has replaced.
0utside, notice the fine Doorway of the tower and especially the
beautiful South doorway and the niche over it, which once would have
contained a figure of St. Just himself. The figure was probably taken
down after the Reformation though it may turn up in some local wall
although after this period of time it must be considered very unlikely. The
head of the niche is of a design rare except in Cornwall and the sister
land of Brittany. Unfortunately the closeness of other buildings prevents
one from getting a good view of this exquisite doorway and the absence
of a porch to protect from the weather and sea has resulted in the
decay which is all too apparent.

The tower itself is very unusual, The staircase is not contained in a semidetachedturret but is accommodated in an extra angle of the tower
making it pentagonal. There are five stone doorways leading from it -
the entrance at the bottom, one into a gallery ( originally possibly a
Squire's pew for Sir Henry Bodrugan ) a third into the ringing chamber,
a fourth into that containing a small bell and the fifth leading to the roof.
The roof has some historic significance as it is said that Sir Henry lit
beacons on it to guide his ships into the harbour be they carrying fish
or other cargo.


St. Just was one of the numerous Celtic Missionaries who brought
Christianity into Cornwall, where he has two other Churches dedicated
to his honour and a Parish that seems to bear is name though it shouldbe remembered in those early days that Just was as common a John
is today. lt is possible that this St. Just came from Wales where a St'
Just was associated with a St. Gwrin at Llanwrin in Monmouthshire -
Gwrin being similar to Guron or Goran


Our Churches' Histories
Webpage icon A brief history of St Michael, Caerhays
Webpage icon A Brief History of St Goran