St Rumon, Ruan Minor, Cornwall

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Feature Sets (2)


The church is one of the smallest in west Cornwall, and is in an exposed position close to the tip of the Lizard. The church was mostly constructed in the 14thc. and 15thc, but it originated as small chapel with a chancel and nave. 

The only Romanesque features are the font, and possibly the piscina.


Prior to the Norman conquest, the seventeen manors of the Lizard were held by thegns, who paid dues towards the support of a monastery, probably St Michael’s Mount. The thegns were disinherited at the Conquest, depriving the Mount of income, but were restored in 1087 by Earl Mortain. In the 13thc. most of Ruan Minor passed to the manorial estate of Trethevas. 

Although there was apparently an ancient chapel in Ruan Minor, the earliest records of the current church are from 1277. 

The church was restored in 1854-1855 with re-roofing, re-flooring and re-seating. In 1879 the chancel was extended and raised to a higher roof level than the nave.





The font is small and simple in design. A single row of zigzags is carved around the bowl, which Beacham considers to be much recarved. (Beacham, 2014) The font has a single shaft, which is crudely carved, and a modern base in two stages. 

Depth of bowl 220 mm
Diameter of bowl at top 540 mm
Height of base overall 310 mm
Height of pattern 110 mm
Height of shaft 320 mm
Width of base at bottom 910 mm

Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The small rectangular piscina, set in a later chamfered arch, is decorated on its exposed face with two rows of chip-carving: on the upper row are four units of eight-point stars in squares; on the lower row four units of saltire crosses in squares. 

Height of arch above bowl 420 mm
Height of bowl 130 mm
Width of bowl 250 mm


Font: Sedding dates the font to c. 1090, but considers it to be greatly altered in character and ‘a ghost of what was once a quaint relic of Norman work’. 

Piscina:  Pevsner believes that the piscina is 13thc., and that it may have been a pillar-piscina, remodelled when the chancel was extended in the 14thc. However, Henderson believes it be Norman, as does the author of the church guide.


  • P. Beacham and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England – Cornwall (London, 2014).

  • J. Betjeman, Cornwall – A Shell Guide (London, 1964)

  • www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk

  • C. Henderson, The Cornish Church Guide and Parochial History of Cornwall, (Truro, 1925).

  • N. Pevsner revised by E Radcliffe, The Buildings of England: Cornwall  (New Haven and London, 2002).

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, (London, 1951).

  • E H Sedding, Norman Architecture in Cornwall, (London, 1909).

  • St. Ruan with St. Grade: A brief history of the Parishes and Churches, Third edition of Church guide originally prepared by Admiral E. King, revised by G. Bennett, rector, 1998.

View of church from west
View of church from south west
Interior view of church with font


Site Location
Ruan Minor
National Grid Reference
SW 712 143 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Cornwall
now: Cornwall
medieval: Exeter
now: Truro
now: St Rumon
medieval: St Rumon
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Andrew Beard 
Visit Date
10 July 2015