St Just

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St Just
Cornish: Lannust
Market Square, St Just - - 912151.jpg
Market Square
Grid reference: SW371315
Location: 50°7’26"N, 5°40’48"W
Population: 4,690  (2001)
Post town: Penzance
Postcode: TR19
Dialling code: 01736
Local Government
Council: Cornwall
St Ives

St Just is a pocket-sized town in the far west of Cornwall. It lies along the A3071 road, where the latter gives up to become a B-road. Cape Cornwall is a mile and a half to the west. If the place can justly be called a town, it is the westernmost town in Cornwall, and in England, being 8 miles west of Penzance.

The parish encompasses the town of St Just and the nearby hamlets of Trewellard, Pendeen and Kelynack: it is bounded by the parishes of Morvah to the north-east, Sancreed and Madron to the east, St Buryan and Sennen to the south and by the sea in the west.

St Just lies within the "Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty", as indeed does almost a third of the county.

The parish church is a fine 15th century building.


It is not known who Saint Just was.[1] Cornwall's long resistance to the edicts of Canterbury and Rome makes it most unlikely that the saint was Archbishop Justus of Canterbury, as some sources claim. Another possibility is the 6th or 7th century Saint Iestyn, said to be the son of a ruler of Dumnonia.

Among the prehistoric antiquities nearby is Ballowall Barrow, a chambered tomb. St Just is one of the most ancient mining districts in Cornwall and remains of ancient pre-industrial and more modern mining activity have had a considerable impact on the nearby landscape.


This ancient place has a strong mining history and was during the 19th century one of the most important mining districts in Cornwall both for copper and tin. Mines within the area included Boscaswell Downs, Balleswidden, Parknoweth, Boscean, Wheal Owles, Wheal Boys, Levant, Botallack and Geevor (which closed in 1990).[2] Geevor mine is now a tourist attraction which allows visitors to explore Cornish Mining heritage.[3]

The boom in 19th century mining saw a dramatic increase in the population of St Just, the 1861 census records the population figure as being 9290, however like other areas in Cornwall the population declined with the collapse in the tin trade in the 20th century. The town also suffered from the decision of the Great Western Railway to abandon its plans to make St Just the terminus of the London mainline to Cornwall. It was announced in July 2006 that the St Just mining district and the rest of the historic mining areas of Cornwall had become the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.


Nearby is Cape Cornwall, which is barely pipped by Lands End for the title of the westernmost extremity of mainland Cornwall.

The nearby Cot Valley has a stream which runs to the sea. The area has been heavily mined, as was the area around St Just. The round boulders in the Cot Valley Cove here are of specific scientific interest.

Culture and local traditions

Plen an Gwarry, common green near the clock tower in the centre of St Just

St Just holds the popular Lafrowda festival,[4] a seven-day community and arts celebration.

A more ancient celebration associated with the town is St Just feast which is held in November every year to celebrate the dedication of the parish church. The feast itself is a two-day event with a church service and civic procession being held on the Sunday of the feast and a larger scale popular celebration being held on the Monday (which includes a meeting of the local hunt). A description of St Just feast, from 1882, follows:

"Rich and poor still at this season keep open house, and all the young people from St Just who are in service for many miles around, if they can possibly be spared, go home on the Saturday and stay until the Tuesday morning. A small fair is held in the streets on Monday evening, when the young men are expected to treat their sweethearts liberally, and a great deal of "foolish money" that can be ill afforded is often spent."

St Just also has a 'Plen an Gwarry' (Cornish - playing place). These sites were used historically for open-air performance, entertainment and instruction. St Just's Plen an Gwarry occasionally hosts productions of the Cornish Ordinalia mystery plays.[5]

Outside links


  1. Watts, Victor (2010). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-names (1st paperback ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 520. ISBN 978-0-521-16855-7. 
  2. "Mines in St Just Area of Cornwall". Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  3. Geevor Mine
  4. Lafrowda Festival