Boscastle, St Julitta’s

Grid ref SX129912
St Juliot’s, Boscastle, PL12 5ER

stjuliotssmallLittle is known of St. Julitta, but Lanteglos-by-Camelford church was also dedicated to her.  It is probable that the original patron of St Juliot was a St Juliana, mentioned in the 12th-century Hartland list of the children of Brychan.  King Brychan was reputedly a Welsh king who had twelve sons and twelve daughters who all settled in north Cornwall as Celtic missionaries.

Mentioned in Domesday Book as Sanguilant, the church in 1086 would have comprised only a nave and chancel.  In the 13th or 14th centuries it was enlarged with the addition of transepts.  The granite cross (grade I listed) now by the church gate may be of similar date and is of wayside-cross type.

In the late 15th or early 16th centuries the church was enlarged with a granite south aisle and fine porch.  Note the “wheat ear” carved granite wall plates, repeated inside the aisle in timber.  This design is common in this part of Cornwall.

stjuliotssmall2By the 19th century the older part of the church was in ruins, and in 1870 a move was made to restore it. The older north transept, chancel and tower, built of poor local stone, were demolished.  Only the tower was rebuilt at the cost of £1095 under the supervision of a young architect from Dorset by name of Thomas Hardy.  The design was not his (it was by Crickmay), though Hardy did some internal design work.  The church you see today consists of the late 15th or early 16th century porch and south aisle, the latter now serving as the chancel and nave (a change also made at Golant for a time), the rebuilt nave, now the north aisle, and tower.

While staying at the Rectory Hardy fell in love with Emma Gifford, the rector’s sister-in-law, and married her in London 4 years later.  He wrote his novel “A Pair of Blue Eyes” about their courtship.  He gave up architecture when his writing started to earn him a decent living.  They had an unhappy married life, and never had children.  After Emma died in 1912 Hardy came back to St. Juliot, erected a memorial tablet, & wrote some emotional poems in remorse.  There is a matching tablet in memory of Hardy.

stjuliotssmall3At the millennium the Thomas Hardy Society presented to the church a beautiful engraved glass window by Simon Whistler.  It depicts in great detail Hardy’s journey to St. Juliot from Dorset, his architect’s tools & his writer’s desk.  Two of his most famous poems (“Under the waterfall” & “On Beeny Cliff”) are also depicted in this delicate work.

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