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Roche Rock

Natural Rock Feature

<b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postmanImage © Chris Bickerton
Nearest Town:St Austell (7km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   SW991596 / Sheet: 200
Latitude:50° 24' 4.5" N
Longitude:   4° 49' 38.37" W

Added by phil

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Photographs:<b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by Crazylegs14 <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by postman <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by phil Artistic / Interpretive:<b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by Rhiannon <b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by Rhiannon


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Roche rock has been on the list for ages, and seeing as my new year resolution was to not make the list longer but to actually start getting to some of the top numbers on the list, hence my trip down to Cornwall with the kids. This place looked great for a number of reasons, like Carl before me I love rocky outcrops, scrambling round, up and over, and in some cases under, it satisfies some need in me, like a childhood rediscovered. I also like old churches, chapels and such, so to find an old chapel perched precariously a top a mini mountain, with more atmosphere than you can shake a barometer at, I was quite literally all over it.

Phillippa elected to stay at the hotel and watch some silly movie, so Eric and me took the fifteen minute drive from St Austell up to Roche. We parked on a housing estate just to the north of the rock, barely a five minute walk and we'd passed the less than helpful information board and were making our tentative way up the rocks furthest east. From here you get the best view of the chapel and its little path up to it. We scampered up said path and was confronted by a blank rock face with metal ladders secured into the granite, we ascended into the chapel, a little bit of Gods house, a shed really, it's tiny inside, no weddings here, just contemplation.
Inside the chapel are more ladders stuck into the rock, here and there are carved steps, worn smooth with the feet of serious worshipers and the curious traveler alike, not to mention our more distant ancestors.
Up the second ladders and your right up on top of the rock, I can well imagine some hermit like robed character sitting up here to serenely enjoy a sunrise or the full fury of a thunder storm, a bit like me actually, a bit.
We gingerly descend the makeshift staircase and scramble around on to the next rocky outcrop, from here we can see the full moon rising out of the eyesore clay pit quarry place to our east. we go further round on the rocks until I can get the chapel rock and the moon into the same shot. Tremendous.
Doesn't Roche mean rock ? it surely must, so that makes this place called Rock rock, like the river Avon means river river, daft aren't we.
Can fully recommend a visit to Roche rock.
postman Posted by postman
24th August 2013ce

Visited 18.4.12

This is a superb place to visit and very easy to access.
You can’t miss it – just south of the village of Roche.

I have a ‘thing’ about rock outcrops and have always been drawn to them.
This may sound strange to most people but I guess those reading this will know what I mean?
Obviously in this part of the world there is no shortage to choose from.

There is a lay by to park in, small information sign and then a short walk through the gate onto the rock.

The rock is even more dramatic and impressive than the photos suggest.
(I had a big grin on my face whilst walking to the rock despite the wind and rain)

I must say it is an impressive achievement building the church here.
You can but only admire the skills and effort in achieving this feat.

I made my way up to the base of the rock to have a good look at the masonry and admire the views – which weren’t that great due to the weather!

I really liked this place and would love to come back on a nicer day.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit but you would need to be mobile to get up close to the rock. Disabled visitors can have a great view of the rock from the lay by.

Visit, visit, visit!!!
Posted by CARL
3rd May 2012ce


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An 18th century visitor tries to communicate the atmosphere:
Roche-Rocks (so called from the neighbouring village of St. Roche) are situated in the midst of an open heath, half a mile south from the road leading through Bodmin to Truro, and about six miles from the former place. The country around is naked, barren, and dreary almost beyond conception.

[...] A pile of rocks starting abruptly out of a wide green surface, and covering some space with enormous fragments on which there are only a few vestiges of incipient vegetation, form a singular scene, exhibiting a kind of wild sublimity peculiar to itself. Some of them are full sixty feet in height, and on a projection in one part stands a small Gothic building to all appearance very ancient, and tradition reports that it was once the cell of a hermit.
volume 1 of William Maton's "Observations relative chiefly to the natural history, picturesque scenery, and antiquities of the western counties of England, made in the years 1794 and 1796."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd August 2013ce

A little more on the spring:
Roche: St. Gundred's.
Roche, north of St. Austell, famous for the Roche rocks, with St. Michael's Chapel built amongst them. Once tenanted by a hermit; then by a leper, whose daughter waited on him, and drew water from a well, said to ebb and flow, called after her. To St. Gundred's, near a group of cottages called Hollywell village, maidens would repair on Holy Thursday, to throw in pins and pebbles, and predict coming events by the sparkling of the bubbles which rise up. Lunatics were also immersed in it.
From 'The legendary lore of the holy wells of England' by Robert Hope (1893), scans of which are now available for your free perusal at the Open Library.

I think Robert Hope got confused about things (he copied them from books like I do). So perhaps the spring is actually some way further north - you can read about it here on the ADS website - a report by the Cornwall Environment Service.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th January 2010ce
Edited 19th May 2015ce

..when the wind is easterly, the devil amuses himself with chasing Tregagle three times round Dosmary pool. After the third chevy, the wily giant makes off with all speed to Roche Rock, and thrusts his huge head into the chapel window, much as the ostrich is said to bury his neck.. but with this essential difference in the result, that the latter is still caught by his huntsman; while with the giant, the safety of his head guarantees the safety of his whole body, and Beelzebub has nothing left for it but to whistle off his pack and return bootless from the chase.
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. p21 in vol24 Jul-Dec, 1828.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th March 2007ce

A SONG OF A CORNISH GIANT.—When my wife and I were at Fowey, in 1904, we stayed at the house of Mrs. West, {..} During some conversation about Cornish songs, Mrs. West informed us that there was one particular song that her brother used to sing, in which she thought we might be interested. Acting, gladly enough, on this suggestion, we arranged with Mrs. West for her brother to pay us a visit, and after he had sung it we asked and received permission to commit it to writing. {..} It was called by the name of The Old Cornishman.

In Cornwall there once lived a man,
Though his home I won't vouch for the truth, Sir
But if I am not misinformed.
He didn't live far from Redruth, Sir.
His name was Powicky Powick
Powicky Powicky Powido;
His mouth was so monstrously big,
It was near upon half a mile wide o
Tol de rol etc.

I suppose you have heard of Roach Rock.
Why, with his little finger he'd rock it.
And as for St. Michael his Mount
He could put it in his waistcoat pocket.
One day he fell down in a fit,
And his nose stuck so deep in the ground, Sir,
It made such an uncommon pit
That it's what is [now] calld Dolcoth mine, Sir!
Tol de rol etc.

One day he went down to Penzance
Of provisions to get a fresh stock. Sir,
And if I am not misinformed
He must have passed great Logan Rock, Sir,
Says he, I'll let Cornish folk know
[That] this rock shall not long here abide, Sir,
[So] he tried it to swallow—but oh!
It stuck in his throat and he died, Sir.
Tol de rol, etc.

Now in Cornwall they built a large ship
All out of England to carry him.
In the water they just let him slip—
And that is the way they did bury him.
His head stuck so high above sea,
Trees and grass grew there just as on dry land,
And for what Cornish folk have told me
That is what's called the Great Scilly Island.
Tol de rol, etc.

Here's success to tin, copper, and fish,
And may all his enemies fall, Sir!
Here's success to tin, copper and fish
And success unto one and to all. Sir.

Lyme Regis.
From Notes and Queries, October 7th, 1939.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2006ce
Edited 25th August 2006ce

After wee haue quitted Restormel, Roche becomes our next place of soiourne, though hardly inuiting, with promise of any better entertainement, then the name carieth written in his forehead, to wit, a huge, high and steepe rock, seated in a playne, girded on either side, with (as it were) two substitutes, and meritorious (no doubt) for the Hermite, who dwelt on the top thereof, were it but in regard of such an vneasie climing to his cell and Chappell, a part of whose naturall wals is wrought out of the rock itselfe.

Neere the foote of Roche, there lyeth a rock, leuell with the ground aboue, and hollow downwards, with a winding depth, which contayneth water, reported by some of the neighbours, to ebbe and flowe as the sea. Of these, as another Cornish wonder.

You neighbour-scorners, holy-prowd,
Goe people Roche's cell,
Farre from the world, neere to the heau'ns,
There, Hermits, may you dwell.
Is't true that Spring in rock hereby,
Doth tide-wise ebbe and flow?
Or haue wee fooles with lyers met?
Fame saies it: be it so.
From The Survey of Cornwall by Richard Carew (1602), online at project Gutenberg
Scroll down to 139.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th July 2006ce
Edited 17th July 2006ce

The Story Of Tregeagle
Tregeagle, the Cornish Bluebeard, was popularly supposed to have sold his soul to the devil that his wishes might be granted for a certain number of years. He is supposed to have married and murdered several heiresses for their money. One day, just before his death, Tregeagle was present when one man lent another a large sum of money without receipt or security on the behalf of Tregeagle. Soon after Tregeagle's death the borrower denied he ever had the money. He was taken to court and there said "If Tregeagle ever saw it I wish to God that Tregeagle may come into court and declare it." As soon as the words were spoken Tregeagle appeared and gave witness for the plaintiff against the man saying that he could not speak falsely "but he who had found it so easy to raise him would find it difficult to lay him." The money was paid, but Tregeagle's spirit followed the man day and night. Finally the Parson was able to exorcise the spirit from the man with great difficulty. There are variations on this story, including that Tregeagle himself received the money but failed to enter it in his books. His ghost was doomed to do many impossible things, such as to empty Dosmery Pool, near Bodmin Moor, with a shell with a hole in the bottom. This pool had the reputation of being bottomless.

Strange tales are told of Tregeagle appearance to people and his dismal howls at not being able to fulfill his tasks. Mothers say in Cornwall of their crying children "He is wailing louder than Tregeagle!" Other stories have ghosts on the shore of this lonely pool trying to bind sand into bundles with bands of sand. Tregeagle had to remove sand from one cove to another only to have the sea return it. On one of these sand hauling expeditions he is supposed to have dropped a bag of sand at the mouth of Loe-pool, near Helston. Now, in the wet seasons, the waters of this pool rise and obstruct the workings of the mills on its banks and heavy seas silt up the mouth of the pool. At these times the mayor of Helston by ancient custom presents two leather purses with three halfpence each as his dues to the Lord of Penrose who owns the pool and asks for permission to cut a path through the sand to the sea. Another task for Tregeagle is to make and carry away a bundle of sand tied with a rope of sand near a cove at Land's End. But the spirit never rests with these never-ending tasks and the devil haunts the spirit until it hides for refuge in a hermit's ruined chapel on St. Roche's rocks. Near Land's End, when the sea roars before a storm, people say "Tregeagle is calling!" and his voice can be heard around Loe-pool.

Popular Romances of the West of England
by Robert Hunt

Hunt, Robert, editor (1807-1887). Popular Romances of the West of England: Or the Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of Old Cornwall. 2nd Ed. 1871. London: John Camden Hotten, 1865.
Posted by phil
1st November 2001ce


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In this ragged pile may be observed five several works: the first of nature, who, as a mother, begat this stony substance; next of force, whereby the water at the general flood deprived it of her earth covering shelter, leaving it naked; the third of art, which raised a building upon so cragged a foundation; fourth, of industry, in working concavity in so obdurate a subject; lastly, of devotion, wherein men, in their then well-meaning zeal, would abandon, as it were, the society of human creatures, and undergo the tedious daily ascent, and continuance of so cold and so abandoned a place. To this may be added a sixth work, even of Time, who, as she is the mother, and begetteth, so is she the destroyer of her begotten children; and nothing that she brings forth is permanent.
From Norden's 'Description of Cornwall' (written 1610), quoted in Ancient Crosses, and Other Antiquities in the East of Cornwall By John Thomas Blight (1865), p108.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th May 2007ce

Archeological recording done in Jan 2004 on fields to the north of the rock uncovered 10 hearth pits. These were found to contain neolithic pottery, a quern. flints and burnt hazelnuts.

It is thought that the hearths were possibly constructed for seasonal ritual gatherings rather than a permanent settlement.
Mr Hamhead Posted by Mr Hamhead
16th March 2005ce


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The Land of Arthur

A contemporary theory, first advanced by E. M. R. Ditmas in her study of the topography of the Tristan legend, suggests that this may have been the site of the hermit Ogrin's chapel, where the lovers, having escaped from King Mark, found temporary refuge. The medieval poet Beroul, who wrote one of the earliest versions of the story, appears to display an intimate knowledge of the Cornish landscape, and his description of Ogrin's chapel certainly bears a more than passing resemblance to Roche Rock.
Posted by phil
17th November 2001ce