St Levan

The place name St Levan comes from Selevan or Salamon, the original patron saint of the church, chapel and holy well here. Salamon is recorded as a 10th century Cornish dedication and may be the Breton king assassinated in 874AD.

About this church

The church at St Levan has plainer piers than many in Cornwall and an unfinished, and lopsided, ground plan of chancel, nave, west tower, south aisle and north transept. Such plans, commonly found in Cornwall, reflect more than 350 years of building activity which came to an abrupt end in the 1540s during the Reformation.

St Levan’s chancel and nave were built around 1200. The font and a blocked window opening in the chancel may be of this period. Some time after 1300, transepts were added to create a cruciform plan. Repairs are documented in 1421 here and at the chapel. Finally, the south transept was replaced with a south aisle, and a two stage west tower built.

Plain octagonal granite monolith piers of Penwith type were used for arches, with walls faced with granite ashlar. William Cockes of Paul left 6s 8d in his will of 1522 probably towards this work. Roofs, rood screen and benches were all added at this time. A pillar, awkwardly planted in the middle of the north transept opening, may be the start of a 1540s aborted aisle with the chancel perhaps being shortened then. William Alsa, a local priest, was hanged for taking part in the 1549 Prayer Book rebellion.

By 1800 the church had a three decker pulpit, box pews, whitewashed walls, wooden sash windows, and slate floors, while the north transept was used as a dairy. It was restored to a more medieval appearance in 1874 by JD Sedding.

Key Features

  • Glorious furnishings
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Social heritage stories

Visitors information

  • Ramp or level access available on request
  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • Car park at church
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Church shop or souvenirs

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St Just

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