St Piran

St Piran's Church

The first stone of St Piran’s Parish church was laid in the year 1804, after two former churches had been successively overwhelmed with the sand, after being imprudently built near the coast.

The first church or “The Lost Church”, as it is often called, was built not far inland from the coast, either by St Piran himself or his followers, so legend goes. This was in about 500 AD but became overwhelmed with sand. It was excavated in 1843 and parts of the walls were still standing. It was covered over with a concrete shell in 1910 and then reburied in 1980 because of flooding and vandalism.

Another church was built about half a mile from the oratory in about 1100 AD but this also became engulfed in sand. Part of these walls can still be seen and excavation work was undertaken on the ruins just a few years ago.

This third church, was built 2 miles inland to protect it from the same fate as the previous two churches. The present tower is of three stages, which were the second, third and fourth stages of the tower of the Norman church. At the west end of the church are twelve small panels of wood carving which were either frontals from the row of benches facing Rood Screen in the old church, or maybe the lower parts of the screen itself. These are, therefore, about 1000 years old. Along the south wall of the church are two decorative slate memorials, which were removed from the interior of the Norman church. The Font came also from the Norman church and the base and lower part of the pillars may be late Norman period. Some of the large pillars in the church are also from the second church and can easily be distinguished by their carvings from the new ones of the 19C.

The Church consists of a Chancel, Nave, South Aisles and Transepts in the North and South. The North Transept houses the Organ and the Vestry, the South Transept is named after a notable local family and is known as the Chyverton Aisle

St Piran's Oratory

St Piran's Oratory can be found in the sand dunes commonly known as Penhale Sands. The legend of St Piran arriving in Cornwall believes he landed on the shore at Perran beach having been cast off from Ireland by the then King, with a millstone around hiis neck. On arriving in Perran he proceeded to build an Oratory in the Irish Style. This first Oratory was probably built in wattle and daub later being replaced with a stone construction, it was small about 30feet in length. The Oratory was abandoned in the 10th century because the drifting sand was continually buring it. The second Church was built further inland around the 12th century being enlarged in the 15th century. The stream by which it was built dried up and eventually this church also became a victim of the blowing sands and the last service was held in 1795, the church was then partially dismantled and the materials were used to build the current church inland. Burials were still carried out on the site until 1835. The remains of the second church can still be found on the dunes following recent excavations and preservation. Close by is the St Piran's Cross believed to be the oldest stone cross in Cornwall it is dedicated to Miners and Tinners.

St Piran's Day

St Piran's Day is celebrated all over Cornwall on the 5th March, in Perranzabuloe Parish it is marked by a march across the dunes, by hundreds of people many dressed in black, white and gold and carrying the St Piran Flag, adopted as the flag of Cornwall, they march from the Oratory to the second church at the same time a play is enacted depicting the arrival of St Piran.

The Church celebrates this day with a special service. The Bishop of Truro has instigated the St Piran Cross Award which is given annually to people who have served their church and local community throughout the Dioces of Truro, around 20 men and women received this award each year.

                                                                      St Piran Cross.jpg - 22.33 KB

                                                                     St Piran Cross


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