A Brief History
St Just developed as a mining town as the area, one of the oldest mining
districts in Cornwall, is rich in both tin and copper. Between 1800 and
1840 the population jumped from 2779 to over 7000. The earliest tin was
believed to have been traded with the Phoenicians and in 1832 a small bronze
bull (pronounced Phoenician by London experts) was discovered in the grounds
of the vicarage. Roman coins have also been found in the locality.
The houses are mostly terraced granite cottages roofed with slate although
there are some larger Victorian town houses clustered around the main square.
There is a large Methodist Chapel at the end of Chapel Street and the town
is well supplied with shops, a library and a surgery. St Just has both primary
and secondary schools which attract pupils from the local area.
Also of note are the remains of a medieval amphitheatre in the centre of
the town originally used for miracle plays. In 1762 this 'Plen an Guary'
was described by William Borlase, historian and vicar of St Just, as "an
exact circle of 126 feet diameter; the perpendicular height of the bank,
from the area within, now seven feet, but the height from the bottom of
the ditch without, ten feet at present, formerly more. The seats consist
of six steps, fourteen inches wide, and one foot high, with one on the top
of all where the rampart is about seven feet wide."
The Town Clock was erected by public subscription around 1840.
Parish Church - There has been a church on the present site since early
times although little trace of the one rededicated in 1336 remains today.
Note the 16th century porch and the inward sloping three stage tower built
for strength against the high winter winds. Carved stones from the 8th century
were found during the 1834 restoration. The octagonal font is believed to
be 14th century. The decorated columns depict vines and the coats of arms
of local families.
During the Civil War both Royalist and Parliamentarians were well represented in St Just. A document survives from that time giving the names of the men of St Just prepared to defend Cornwall for Parliament.
"Wee whose names are under written doe freely and voluntarily engage and to be true and faithfull to his Highness the Lord Protector Against fooraigne invaders or disturbers of the peace of this Nation, as it is now settled under the Command of his highness, whensoeve wee bee there unto required of the defence of y County, to the utmostof o' power, and hereunto have subscribed o' hands the first day of May, 1658. Under the command of Capt. Ffrancis Arrundall. The paper was folded and endorsed thus :- St. Juste Pn Wth Liste of men taken the 5th May, 1558. 155 men. In all the is for such as willingly subscribed : those with out it (Excep the old Souldiers) are refusers."