St John the Baptist

Under the Act of 1843, districts were separated from large parishes and were known as ‘Peel Districts’, from Sir Robert Peel who promoted the Act.

Pendeen, Cornwall

Opening times

Sorry, there are no regular opening times for this church.


TR19 7SF

This was the beginning of the Parish of Pendeen, originally known as North St Just separated from the old mother Parish of St Just in Penwith but with no church building. 

The need of a church and a priest was great in Pendeen and in 1849 the Revd Robert Aitken was offered this Peel District as his sphere of work by then Bishop Philpotts of Exeter. Revd Aitken drove over the moor from Penzance but after losing his way and then finding little more than a barren piece of moorland, with no church, no parsonage and no school, he quickly turned his carriage around and drove back the way he had come!

A petition was organised and signed by every local inhabitant and sent to the Bishop demanding that pressure be brought to bear on Revd Aitken. A second time he came and came to stay with great challenge.

One fine afternoon a number of miners were standing in the town plat, now the square, by the inn when the Vicar came up and spoke: ‘Come on’ he said ‘get your picks and shovels, we are going to build a church’! The men were too astonished to do anything other than obey.

The first wooden church was only temporary and completed in three weeks. It was set up in the square and was used for more than two years, being opened on June 24th 1849. The wood from it was later reused for the floor of the permanent church. Revd Aitken was his own architect and adopted proportions of the early English cathedral at Iona. It was built entirely by local labour, who as miners, had considerable skills in all building disciplines. The stone was quarried on the carn at the rear of the church.

The most interesting feature inside the church is its east window. It is unusual for one window to have five lancets. In addition, the coloured glass was made in a unique way. The white and yellow colouring is not paint, but a solution of real silver and gold, and the blue and ruby colours were burnt in by a new process. The idea was to give the impression of early sunrise lights, and certainly even when the fog outside is thick, from the inside it does appear that the sun is always shining.

  • Wildlife haven

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Church of England

Contact information

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