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.


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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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

41 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. It does doesn’t it? Even has a pub with live music for the OH. You never know Pete, we might end up there one day 🙂

    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. There can’t be ,any places left for you to explore in west Cornwall Jude, but I guess you can go back with more time in a while!

  4. 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. 🙂

  5. 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! ♡

  6. 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 🙂

  7. I am struck by how much history is at every corner Jude. Here is we see a house more than 50 years old, well that is history!

    1. Yes, we are a very old country Sue, you can’t go very far without tripping up over an ancient Roman or two… 😉

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