Gerrans, Cornwall

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Feature Sets (2)


The church is prominently sited on the main street, in the centre of the hilltop village of Gerrans.  The village adjoins the former fishing village of Portscatho, and the spire is an important landmark, seen from both the sea and the surrounding countryside. The church itself it set within an oval, raised churchyard, or lann. The current form of the church is a nave and chancel under one roof, a N transept and S aisle, with a tower and spire at the W end.  

The restoration scheme of 1849 to 1850, carried out by William White of Truro, involved the rebuilding of almost the whole church. It was, however, carried out in a manner sympathetic to the vernacular style, using local materials and reusing the original windows. The result successfully suggests the continuous development of the church since the 13thc..

The only feature remaining from the Norman church is the font.


Gerrans, one of the four Roseland parishes, lay within the important episcopal fief of Tregear. Tregear Manor, the capital of this fief, lay about a mile to the north of the church. The church was rebuilt by the Normans, probably to a cruciform plan. A tower was added in the 14thc., and the church was extensively altered in the 15thc. leaving nothing of the former church. An octagonal spire, an unusual feature on Cornish churches, was added to the tower in the 17thc., apparently as a navigational aide for fishermen and sailors.

The church fell into serious disrepair until it was restored in the mid-19thc..





The Norman font is thought to date from the mid-12thc., and is a simplified version of the Bodmin type. The bowl is square on the outside and circular on the inside. Each face of the bowl has an arcade of four round-headed arches in shallow relief. It is entirely constructed of granite. The bowl is set on a thick round central shaft; this now rests on a square base, which is thought to date from the Victorian restoration scheme, as may the four narrow pillars at the corners. 

Diameter of central shaft 31cm
Diameter of outer pillars 8cm
Height of base 29cm
Height of bowl 27cm
Height of central shaft and pillars 34cm
Internal depth of bowl 22cm
Internal diameter of bowl 51cm
Width of base 63.5cm
Width of bowl at bottom 57cm
Width of bowl at top 60cm


The church is an attractive local landmark, and makes a very positive contribution to the townscape of Gerrans.  The simplicity of the font gives it a certain beauty, and it is in good condition for its age.


  • P. Beacham and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cornwall, New Haven and London, 2014, 210-11.

  • J. Betjeman, Cornwall. A Shell Guide, London, 1964.

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

  • https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1328952 ¬†accessed 15 May 2016.

  • A History of St Gerrans Church: the Ancient Church by the Sea (produced by the Parochial Church Council).

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Cornwall, Harmondsworth, 1951.

  • N. Pevsner revised E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England. Cornwall, Harmondsworth, 1970.¬†

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

Exterior view
Church interior


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SW 872 351 
now: Cornwall
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Cornwall
now: Truro
medieval: Exeter
medieval: St Gerrans
Type of building/monument
Report authors
Andrew Beard 
Visit Date
10 Sept 15