St Germans Priory Church

St Germanus, a Grade 1 listed Norman priory church, was built in the early 1200s as part of an Augustinian Priory on the site of the county’s first cathedral, which dates back to the reign of the Saxon King Athelstan.

Much original Norman stonework remains, notably the twin towers of different designs and an imposing carved west doorway.

Inside, information boards tell the story of the building and highlight its continuing role as a vibrant community resource, event centre and place of worship.

When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, the Priory church was spared from destruction in 1539 due to its continued use as the parish church. Adjoining monastic buildings were sold off into private ownership and later passed to the Eliot family, who still live on the neighbouring Port Eliot Estate today.

In medieval times, the Priory was a place of pilgrimage and plans are underway to revive the ancient pilgrimage trail from St Germans to St Michaels Mount near Penzance. A 15th Century statue of St Antony of Padua, the 13th Century font, a 13th Century coffin and a misericord seat, carved with the story of the local anti-hero Dando, can still be seen in the church.

A monk at the Priory, Dando was tempted to take a drink on the Sabbath from a stranger on horseback. This turned out to be the Devil! Along with his hounds, Dando was dragged into the river and never seen again. He and his ghostly hounds are said to haunt the Estate, so if you are lucky (or unlucky!) you may see him.

The church contains some fine stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones and a huge monument to Edward Eliot by Rysbraek.

The building is now maintained by the St Germans Priory Trust, a registered charity seeking to ensure that the St Germans Priory church continues to be at the heart of the community as both a place of worship and a welcoming and fascinating place for visitors to explore and enjoy.

The local community shop, Long Gallery tearooms and The Eliot Arms pub provide refreshment as you plan your day in this historic area of the Cornish countryside. They look forward to welcoming you.

The website offers educational material to download and guided walks will be added to ensure your day at the Priory Church is a real taster of what makes this part of rural Cornwall such a wonderful place to visit.

Transport Links

Road: Take the B3249 from the A38 Rail: Some main line trains from Plymouth to Penzance stop at St Germans Station which is a 5 minute walk from the Priory. Bus: Number 72 Bus between Plymouth and Looe stops at St Germans approximately every 2 hours Monday – Friday

A public toilet is available at the Eliot Village Hall 4-5 minutes’ walk from the Priory.

Limited parking by the Priory Entrance and in the village

All weather attraction – free admission from 10.00 – 17.00 (winter hours may vary – see website)

Educational and group visits and guided tours available by appointment

Hearing loop system available and guide dogs welcome

Disabled access is limited as there is a steep driveway. There are steps to enter the building although an alternative door can be opened to avoid the steps.

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