A Brief History of St Goran


St. Goran(us) is said to have come from Llantwit Major in South Wales
between 500 600AD where a school had been set up by St. Iltyd for
the education of Celtic monks. He travelled in Brittany and lreland
settling as a hermit in Bodmin where he was known as St. Wron and
where there is a well named after him. lt was here that he met with St.
Petroc, Abbot of Padstow, and gave him food and hospitality.
Persuaded by St. Petroc to leave Bodmin, St. Goran then "removed to
a place about a day's journey to the south and passed the rest of his
days there." This place is traditionally Gorran and the site of his
settlement is within the old vicarage grounds - Polgorran, now a private
residence. Polgorran was later the country home of the Provost of
Glasney college at Penryn.

The Parish church shows no evidence of St. Goran's presence. The
Normans, six hundred years later, built a cruciform church on this site
but the only remains of their work are at the foot of the arch leading to
the north transept and the font. The church now comprises a Nave and
Chancel, South Aisle and a North transept and a 90ft. Tower. Parts of
the North wall of the nave and the chancel are the oldest parts of the
Church and follow the line of the Norman building. ln the North wall is a
13th. Century doorway now blocked but visible from the outside with
carved heads at the apex and at each of the two label stops.

There was much building in the 14th and early 15th centuries. The

South aisle was added with an arcade of eight arches made from white
Pentewan stone, though the last three arches were more crudely carved
from granite. At the same time the nave was slightly widened (note the
apex of the east window is rather to the left of the apex of the roof.) The stone work of the windows is all 15th. Century , though the stained
glass was lost at the time of the Commonwealth with only two small
fragments remaining in the east window of the lady chapel. There is a
l5/16th century chair in the chapel which is believed to depict St.
Goran flanked on the one side by the church with a steeple and on the
other by an open book and a human skull.

0n the south side of the Lady chapel is a replica of a 16th. Century
brass of a woman at prayer - the original being in safe keeping. The
brass is known as the Lady of Brammel and has been dated as 1510.
She is said to have come from the very wealthy family of Tregarthen
(Tregarton Farm today).

The Font is believed to be Norman and dates from about 1180. lt is of
a Bodmin type with a basin supported on a central pillar surrounded by
four pillars each with a carved head at the corner. The sides are
ornamented with a dragon, star, the tree of life and the Bodrugan coat
of arms.

ln the church the bench ends are of late 15th. or early 16th century
origin. A number have carved initials which may well refer to the donors.
Also depicted are the instruments of the Passion and some ornamental
motifs reflecting the impact of the Renaissance. These bench ends are
typically Cornish and although we must regret the loss of the benches
themselves we should be thankful that the ends have survived not only
the destruction of Cromwellian days but also the effect of the
Dissolution, Reformation and the so-called Victorian restorers.

The Pulpit is 1911 and the panelling in the chancel was given as a
thanksgiving for the safe return of family members after the second
World War and is fine example of modern wood carving. The Porch was rebuilt in the 16th. century and contains many of the original timbers. Note the panelled jambs - sides of the doorway – which are good examples of granite carving.

The 90 foot tower appears to be wholly late 15th. or early 16th century.
However it once boasted a steeple, which would have been unusual in
Cornwall. lt would probably have been built as an aid to seafarers and
fishermen similar to that at St. Keverne on the Lizard peninsular, but the

tower collapsed early in the 17th century and was immediately rebuilt as
we see it now. On one of the buttresses - the one to the right of the west
door - are a faint set of initials and a date 16_6 (?1606) - could the initials refer to those who funded the rebuilding or indeed to the masons who did the work and the date when the tower was rebuilt? The West doorway and window above it are good examples of Cornish church building.Within the tower there is now a ring of ten bells. Four new bells were recently added to the six that exsisted. Four of the original bells date from 1722, the fifth was cast in celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and the tenor bell (weighing 11cwt,) is dated 1772. All the bells were rehung – one of them being recast - in the Coronation year of 1953, being rededicated in November of that year.

The reordering of the West end of the church  was completed in 2016 to provide a large community room with kitchen, a smaller meeting room, two toilets, disabled access into the church and a raised bell ringing chamber with a gallery.



The New Look at St. Goran










It was an idea from the Reverend Donald Allan in 2001 to sell the Old School room buildings and use the funds to build modern facilities in the West End of the church. The first stage of vision and planning between 2001 and 2010 included, ensuring that the vision to sell the Church Flats and Old Church School Rooms was viable; resolving the legalities regarding the two properties because the title deeds had been lost; agreeing a fundraising strategy; drafting plans and consulting locally and with Charity Commission. In 2011 the dangerous pews in the Lady Chapel were replaced with comfortable chairs and an improved altar rail. This has helped our important Wednesday Service and provided useful flexibility by being able to move the chairs for weddings, large services, concerts and meetings.

In 2012 we moved the Font from the back of the Church to in front of the Lady Chapel where it is much admired. This helped create the space needed for the final stage.

This stage was to finalise the plans, consult locally and obtain the approval of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) to the final plans, complete the sale of the buildings and raise the balance of the funds required.

The  DAC granted a Faculty in July 2014 and The Church Flats and Church School Rooms were sold to St Goran Community Land Trust.

We started fundraising in October 2014 with a target of £275,000. The funds have been raised from: the sale of the buildings £105,000,Grants £95,250, Interest free loans £8,000 and Donations and Fundraising activities £66,750.

Building work begun in the Autumn of 2015. During the work further pews were removed from the back of the nave to allow space and the whole works were completed in the Spring of 2016 and the area available for use in April of that year.

Part of the new look includes an area for meetings and social gatherings, now separate from the body of the church,containing small and large meeting spaces and a kitchen.

There is a lovely gallery space which will also be open to  various uses including of course facilities for visiting  bell ringers.

 It was officially opened by the Bishop of Truro on Friday September 9th 2016. 

Come and see this beautiful church. It is open during daylight hours for everyone to visit.

With grateful acknowledgements and thanks to the authors of the main works from which these notes have been prepared.