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St Buryan, Cornwall

Historical Description

Buryan, St, a parish in Cornwall. The parish lies 4½miles E by N of Lands-End, and 4½ SW of Penzance railway station, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) Acreage, 6975; population, 1288. The surface consists largely of black granite hills. A small town of ancient note was here, but is now represented by only a few cottages. An oratory was founded at it at an early period by St Buriena, a holy woman from Ireland. A secular college was founded here in 909 by Athelstane, changed afterwards into an exempt deanery, and destroyed in the time of the Commonwealth by Shrubshall, governor of Pendennis Castle. A number of Druidical remains, including the Merry Maidens, the Boscawen-Un, and the Rosmodrevy circles, occur among the hills. A cattle fair is held on the first Tuesday in March. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Exeter, and till 1864 was united with Levan and Sennen; value, £300. Patron, H.R.H. The Duke of Cornwall. The church stands on a wild open eminence 415 feet high, has a lofty tower commanding a view to the Scilly Islands, is an ancient edifice greatly altered by modern renovations, and contains a fine carved screen and a curious coffin-shaped monument with a Norman-French inscription. An ancient chapel called the Sanctuary stands about a mile to the SE. Attorney-General Noy, of the time of Charles I., was a native.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCornwall 
Poor Law unionPenzance 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register dates from the year 1653.


Church of England

St. Buriana (parish church)

The church of St. Buriana, said to occupy the site of a collegiate church of Austin Canons, founded by Athelstan A.D. 930, in honour of St. Buriana, and dedicated Aug. 26, 1238, is situated on an eminence 400 feet above the level of the sea, and is a building of granite, chiefly in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles, but with some Norman remains, and consists of chancel, nave of five bays, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower 90 feet in height, with pinnacles, and containing 4 bells, the 3 old bells having been recast and a new bell added to commemorate the accession of King Edward VII.: the remains of a chancel screen, partially destroyed with other interesting antiquities in 1814, still exists, and is of exceedingly rich and bold workmanship, carved, coloured and gilt; and there are also four ancient stalls: the entrance to the rood loft may be traced on the south side, and in the tower is a stone coffin lid of the 13th century, found in the churchyard, and bearing an inscription in Norman-French to Clarice, wife of Geoffrey de Bolleit or Boleigh, still the name of a farm in the parish: the font, of granite, is Early English: a memorial window was erected in 1897 to the Rev. Thomas Borlase Coulson M.A. rector 1864-82: the church was repaired in 1814, and restored and re-seated with open benches in 1875 at a cost of £2,788: there are 425 sittings.

St. Buriana, St. BuryanNave of St. Buriana, St. Buryan

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for St Buryan from the following:


Online maps of St Buryan are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Cornwall papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

We have a copy of The Visitations of Cornwall, by Lieut.-Col. J.L. Vivian online.

RegionSouth West
Postal districtTR19
Post TownPenzance