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St. Julitta's Church, St. Juliot

 

 

St Juliot stands in an isolated location high above the valley of the River Valency, some 3 km from Boscastle. It is dedicated to St. Julitta, along with the parish church of Lanteglos by Camelford and the Castle Chapel at Tintagel. The church predates the Norman Conquest and Hannett is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

When Hardy arrived in 1870 to survey the church for restoration it was in a parlous state. The 14th Century tower was collapsing and the entire church was dilapidated. In the words of Jeremy Dowling (www.boscastlecornwall.org.uk) "The tower had to come down; the old nave and chancel were replaced by the smaller north aisle, and the 15th Century former south aisle became the nave and chancel as it is today. The rebuilt tower is at the west end of the new small aisle. The northern transept was destroyed at this time together with much older woodwork and the Jacobean pulpit".

The Hardy connection with St. Julitta's was strengthened by the Hardy Society who donated an engraved window to commemorate the Millennium. Designed by Simon Whistler it depicts Hardy's travels from Dorchester to St. Juliot, his writing desk, and his tools of trade. It also shows scenes from two poems set in the area; "Under the Waterfall" and "On Beeny Cliff"

 

 

Approaching St Juliot from Penventon Farm

 

  Perhaps the most interesting features are not in the church itself but in the churchyard, where there are three Cornish wayside crosses. One of the crosses was brought from to the church from Anderton Mill at nearby Lesnewth in 1852. This wheel-head cross originally served as a boundary marker between parishes. It stands 1.65m tall and you can see the holes where it was once used as a gatepost. This cross is located on the northern side of the church near the entrance gate.  

 

The Anderton Mill cross

Ancient cross on the eastern side of the church.

 

 

 

The Tregatheral wheel-head cross is located to the east side of the church and originally served as a boundary market between the parishes of Lesnewth and Minster. It was discovered in 1952 used as a farm gatepost at Tregatheral Farm. with the cross head buried in the ground.

 

 

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The 15th century south porch with battlement parapet

The screen behind the pulpit was installed at the time of Hardy's restoration

The east window is Victorian and depicts Christ as The Good Shepard

The memorial to Emma on the north wall placed there by Thomas Hardy

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The memorial to Thomas Hardy himself placed there in 1928

The Victorian pulpit installed during Hardy's restoration of the church

The plain square font

  The third ancient wheel-headed cross on the southern side. This cross was used as a way marker on the footpath from St. Juliot to Boscastle and is thought to be in its original position.  
 

 

 

 

 

St Julitta

St. Julitta was a committed Christian who came from Iconium - modern day Konya. This was and still is a large and important city in the central southern part of Turkey with a long history dating back to 3000 BC. In the 3rd century AD Julitta married a wealthy nobleman, but at a young age she was widowed with an infant son. At that time the Roman Emperor Diocletian (Reigned 284 - 305 AD) was a strict believer in pagan gods and was persuaded that if anything went wrong it must be due to Christians. He started the bloodiest persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.

Julitta escaped this persecution with her son Cyricus and two maids, and went to Seleucia, south of Baghdad, where St. Paul had been on his first missionary journey and where there was a strong Christian community. Things became difficult and she moved again to Tarsus in souther Turkey. tarsus is where St Paul was born and where he returned to live for a while after his conversion to Christianity on the road to Damascus.

Alexander, the Governor of Tarsus, heard of Julitta's Christian beliefs and tortured her. Cyricus witnessed this terrible torture and started to cry. The Governor lifted him up to sit on his knee to comfort him, but Cyricus became angry and scratched the Governor's face, shouting "I am a Christian also!" The Governor threw Circus from the high tribunal onto the stone steps fracturing his skull. Circus died soon after.

St. Julitta and Cyricus are venerated in many countries and particularly in France. The cult of St. Cyricus was strong in Celtic Britain. The half brother of William the Conqueror Count Robert de Mortain was given most of Cornwall after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and one of his main centers of power was Helstone. close to Lanteglos. This close link with France may well explain how the dedication to St. Julitta came to Cornwall.

The dedication to St. Julitta and Cyricus is to family happiness and the cure of sick children. St. Julitta's dedication day is 16th June.

Courtesy of Lanteglos by Camelford Church