St Just stands between two wild valleys near the coast, approximately four miles from Lands End and eight miles from Penzance. It is the most westerly town in mainland Britain and has managed to retain its character unlike many other towns in the UK.
The valleys either side of St Just contain well preserved archaeological sites and large stone monuments – stone circles, hill forts, cliff castles and burial chambers. It is not known who Saint Just was – some claim that he was Archbishop Justus and others believe he was the 6th or 7th century Saint Lestyn, said to be the son of a ruler of Dumnonia.
St Just is one of the oldest mining districts in Cornwall and in the 19th century was considered one of the most important for copper and tin mining. During this century a boom saw the population of St Just rise significantly. However, following the collapse of the tin trade in the 20th century, the population declined.St Just was also impacted by the Great Western Railway’s decision to go back on its plans to make St Just the final stop on the London mainline into Cornwall.
In July 2006, St Just’s mining district as well as the other mining areas of Cornwall became known as the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site.
Things to do in St Just
Geevor Tin Mining Museum, representative of the Cornish mining heritage, is a great place to visit. St Just’s mining history left its mark on the landscape and photographers and walkers like to see the old granite cottages, engine houses, and chimneys that are still around to view today.
The coastline near to St Just boasts fantastic views and Cape Cornwall, where the Atlantic meets the English Channel, is within a short distance. The cape is home to a 138 year old mine chimneystack.
In the centre of the town is Plain-an-Gwarry, a theatre used for plays in medieval times. More recently, it is a venue used as part of the Lafrowda festival.
The Lafrowda festival is held each year in St Just. This is a community and arts celebration held over seven days. In addition, the St Just feast, a more ancient celebration linked with the town, is held every November to celebrate the dedication of the parish church. This is a two-day event with a church service and civic procession on the Sunday, with a larger celebration including the meeting of the local hunt, being held on the Monday.