Saint Germoe’s Chair

The tiny hamlet of Germoe is one of those places you see the sign for on the way to somewhere else.

St Germoe's Chair
St Germoe’s Church

Picturesque and timelessly peaceful. The 14th century church sits in the middle of the cluster of houses. And in the churchyard stands a curious structure known as St Germoe’s Chair.

When John Leland, the great antiquarian, visited Cornwall in the reign of Henry VIII he mentions St Germoe’s tomb, St. Germoe’s chair and St Germoe’s well.

St Germoe's Chair
St Germoe’s Chair

St Germoe’s tomb has long since disappeared but the well from which it is said the saint drank is still there and so is his so-called ‘chair’.

“Germoe’s chair has been the fruitful source of many curious speculations and ingenious theories as to its origin.” H R Coulthard.

Mysterious origins

One tradition says that it was erected by a member of the Pengersick family, although this has not been proved. And there was a suggestion that the saint’s bones were once buried beneath it. However investigations into this theory have produced nothing. No bones or other relics.

St Germoe's Chair

The most likely explanation then is it is a detached sedilia probably dating from the 13th century. A sedilia is a set of seats used by clergy. There are usually three, with a canopy above and some decoration. They are very rare. Why this one is where it is is a mystery.

St Germoe’s Chair fits the description rather well however. It is a small pillared structure with twin arches and a stone bench that can seat three. There are faces carved into the stone roof, now badly weathered.

St Germoe's Chair

St Germoe's Chair

Whatever its origins to this day the chair plays an important part in the community. On the Palm Sunday there is a procession to it from the church. Every year the lesson is read and a hymn sung at the chair. But it’s true age and purpose remains lost to us.

St Germoe’s Well

Finally the Holy Well of Saint Germoe stands just a short distance south of the church. It was restored for the Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Further reading

The Longest Grave in the UK – Veryan, Cornwall

In Launceston, Throwing Stones at Mary Magdalene

3 thoughts on “Saint Germoe’s Chair

  1. I’m loving the face at the top of the Sedliia and I think it’s wonderful the well was restored. Maybe that should be done for all historical holy wells.

Leave a Reply