Immaculate Conception of Our Lady

In 1843 this was and still remains, the first and largest post reformation Catholic church to be built in Cornwall.

About this church

The parish dates from 1837, having no church until the arrival of Father William Young, a charismatic, visionary young priest from Ireland. The foundation stone was laid in July 1841. The nave of this great church was completed for opening on 26th October 1843 at High Mass sung by Fr Casimir Aubert, English Provincial representing the Bishop of Marseilles St Eugène de Mazenod, Superior of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate. St Eugène visited the parish on his English Visitation tour in 1850.

It is Victorian Gothic Revival, with similarities in style to that famous Catholic architect AW Pugin. His work can be seen on a grave brass in the crypt chapel. The west front is a sophisticated example of Perpendicular Gothic, in dressed Penryn granite, using buttresses to great effect and creating the appearance of a tall and narrow street frontage with impressive soaring verticality. Above the entrance is a niche with a crocketed canopy over a statue of Our Lady.

The Lady Chapel and south aisle were added in 1869 by John Hardman Powell. There are two Hardman of Birmingham windows with Marian motifs dating from 1869, and three Goddard & Gibbs windows depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary from 1993. Two more windows including The Immaculate Conception were added in 2018, our 175th anniversary.

A fine High Altar of polished Cornish granite and serpentine was added in 1868. Since 2005 extensive restoration of the church has been undertaken, including redecoration in Polychromatic fashion using Pugin style colours.

Above the High Altar is the magnificent east window of Christ in Glory with 18 saints and angels, including local saints Piran and Cuthbert Mayne. The decorated gothic crucifix hangs five metres from the fine hammer beam roof above.

The organ was built for this church by George Tucker of Plymouth (1884) and was restored in 2009/2010.

The parish still maintains a good musical tradition, whose choir repertoire spans a thousand years, including Plainsong and Polyphony.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Wildlife haven
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Train station within 250m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Ramp or level access available on request
  • Car park at church
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Church shop or souvenirs

Regular events

  • The weekend Masses are: 5pm Vigil Mass on Saturdays and 11am Solemn Mass on Sundays. For weekday Masses, please see the weekly bulletin on the website.
  • Many other varied community activities on the website or parish noticeboard, something happens every day.
  • Biannual Music & Arts Festival in May.

Other nearby churches

St Michael

The abbey is a spectacular sight, perched on a rocky hill and surrounded by blue waters, at low tide, the Mount is approached by a historic stone causeway, used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages.

All Saints

Marazion church, across the bay from St Michael’s Mount, is perhaps best renowned for the hymn writer Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) who wrote ‘Praise my soul, the king of heaven’ and ‘Abide with me’.

St Creden

This small but beautiful church is located in the very centre of Sancreed (Cornish: Eglossankres) in the inland parish in the Hundred of Penwith, about four miles west of Penzance and forms part of the gloriously wild and ruggedly beautiful area of West Penwith at the most westerly tip of Cornwall.

Become a Friend of the National Churches Trust, for people who love church buildings!