Roche Rock. Cornwall

Bodmin Moor surrounds the chapel at Roche Rock in Cornwall. It is haunted by the despairing cries from the ghost of Jan Tregeagle.

Bodmin Moor St Austell Moor surrounds the chapel at Roche Rock in Cornwall. It is haunted by the despairing cries from the ghost of Jan Tregeagle.

In life he was a seventeenth century corrupt local magistrate. Tregeagle earned a reputation as a crook and swindler, and bribed clergy to bury him in consecrated ground when he died. The bizarre story has it that after Tregeagle’s death he emerged from the grave to appear as a witness in court.
The case involved land ownership, and the prosecution claimed Tregeagle had wrongfully claimed this land (while he was alive). Upon summing up, the court room suddenly developed a chill and Tregeagle’s ghost appeared in the witness box.

Despite the ghost’s presence Tregeagle’s was found guilty of fraud. Legend has it that local clergy then took charge of the ghost and set him tasks that would keep him occupied for all eternity. The impossible tasks set for the ghost included, emptying the Dozmary Pool with only a cracked limpet shell. When the ghost failed in one of the tasks he was and banished forever to the moors.

The current church dates to the fifteenth century, albeit with an interior modified in the late nineteenth century, and its exceptionally tall tower looks across the tree tops to Roche Chapel, also built in the early fifteenth century and dedicated in 1409, as is common with chapels in high places, to St Michael.

The chapel, built on the precipitous outcrop, ingeniously incorporates the bedrock in its structure. Built of large squared blocks of granite, probably quarried from the surrounding moor, its construction in this position must have been a masterpiece of mediæval engineering. It stands two storeys high with a lower room in which, according to tradition, lived a hermit attended by his daughter who fetched water for him from a hole in the rocks known as Gonetta’s Well. The room above served as the chapel. Although the west wall has all but disappeared, the east wall survives to almost its full original height, with a large arched window now missing its tracery. Old drawings of the rock hint at further buildings on top of the rock, but these have long disappeared, as has the chapel’s roof. Access to the chapel was originally by rock-cut steps but is now by an iron ladder (take care!).

The precise reason for building it is unclear. It may simply represent continuity of religious activity on a site long-venerated or may be a pious but very visible reminder of the importance of the person or group that funded its construction. One suggestion is that it could have stood as a light or beacon for guiding travellers across the moors; another that it was set up in imitation of the most famous place of pilgrimage of St Michael in Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount, perhaps even with the aim of attracting pilgrims en route for the Mount.

Loves a good ghost story, especially whilst sat in front of an open log fire on a cold and dark winters night.

11 Comments on "Roche Rock. Cornwall"

  1. Murray Best says:

    I visited Roche Rock a few years back. The reason being my ancestors lived in and around Roche before some moved on to Australia (I live in Launceston Tasmania).
    When climbing the Iron ladder I spotted the word “BEST” imprinted on one of the rungs (just by pure luck really).
    Does anyone have the history of when the ladder was erected and by whom?
    Are there any Best’s still living in the area.

  2. i visited Roche recently, like i do every year, around the end of April, its the most beautiful time to visit, due to the haze of English blue bells, surrounding the rock, stunning. i have heard all sorts of stories but just the rock itself impresses me. the stillness, and vibration in the air tells its own story. its steeped in history true or false. i dont know what the attraction is really, to a lot of people its just a pile of sones, but to me i get pulled back every time i visit Cornwall every year.and love it. Its a shame about the people who live near by, that insist in walking their dogs up it and dont take their little poos with them, but it takes all kinds of people to make a world, and may be, its my fault i dont like seeing poo left. roll on next year, or even maybe this again, i will be back.

  3. Marie says:

    I visited the rock last week because quite a few of my ancestress come from Roche.
    It was a dark, windy, day and felt quite creepy at 8am in the morning. Probably beautiful when the sun is shining

  4. Brian says:

    Umm – I think you’ll find its on St Austell Moor – Not Bodmin.

  5. Casey-Jane says:

    My step dad works in Roche and one of my mums mates live opposite it, like its on the rock and she can see it, anyway I stayed there one night, looked out of the window- wether it was my imagination from all of the stories or not, I saw a figure staring at me through the window of the house.. It was standing behind the window on the rock…. I sleep walk and I woke up outside the window on the side of the house.,..

    People think I’m lying but I know what I saw…. 🙂

  6. Casey says:

    My friends dared me to go up and I have three scratches on my arm. Obviously someone-something didnt want me up there -.-

  7. DEBS says:

    When living in Cornwall in the nineties- the locals always believed that Roche’s rock was built on and lived on for a hundred years by a hermit by the name of Roche, and that where the rock got its name- I never found it at all sinister- while I spent time there. I found it a good place to oversee local land. But didn’t go there at night- you can’t see much at night- so whats the point

  8. rick garcia says:

    i found this place in my book and i decided to look it up and it is true what my book says. and it also says it’s haunted by demons as well as other ghosts

  9. maria says:

    i was always told that monks use to live at roche rock

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