Roche, St Gomonda

Grid Ref SW9859
Fore Street, Roche, St Austell, PL26 8EP

This important china clay area church is Grade 2* listed, and is dedicated to St Gomonda or Gonand. The cult of St Gonand (male in medieval sources) appears to be unique to Roche, but further information is elusive.

St Gomonda, Roche

Nearby, the ruined medieval St Michaels’ chapel sits atop Roche Rock. One legend (there are variations) is associated with a hermit, diseased with leprosy, who carved his solitary cell out of the solid stone, and was ministered to by his daughter who fetched him water from a nearby well (a holy well is still in evidence in the environs of the village).

St. Gomonda’s Church has the following features:

The Norman Font is dated about 1180. It is carved from Pentewan stone and is said to be ‘in the Bodmin style’.

The Bell Tower is 15th century and made of moorstone granite. It rises to 85 feet. The tower carries a peal of 8 bells. The organ is a good instrument and was made by Hele and Company from Saltash.

St Gomonda, Roche

The main east window and the pulpit are made of polyphant stone. The altar rails are oak, made in loving memory of Clarence Cock who died from wounds in the Great War (1917). The eagle lectern is carved from oak and was presented to the church at it’s re-opening in 1890 (an inauspicious re-ordering was carried out around 1830, and then made good by a major refurbishment in 1890). The lectern was carved by a local man, Mr Robins of Tregarrick Farm.  The classic expanded guide to the church by H.M. Cresswell Payne including its full history can still be found, though out of print. There is, in the church, a list of Rectors/ incumbents, on which the earliest date is that of Roger de Ellestone in 1258AD.

The Lady Chapel altar is of oak in the ‘English’ style. The altar was erected in memory of William Henry Gill in 1925. More recently a bequest from the late Margaret Gill has provided for the upkeep of this part of the church (the recently re-laid wooden-block floor is in her memory). The south east stained glass window (‘The Adoration of the Magi and Worship of the Shepherds’) is believed to be one of the very few of its kind in Cornwall. It was erected in 1924 by Alfred Bennetts of the parish. This is a focal point for school groups as they come for the telling of the Christmas story.

The Cross in the churchyard, a few yards south of the porch is believed to be in situ. It is an early example of a Wheel Cross, and is 8ft 8ins tall and approx 13ins thick.

This local (parish) church retains its importance to the people of Roche. In addition, a covenant with the local Methodist church, signed in 2003, is a sign of unity in the work of the Gospel. St Gomonda’s services are both traditional, faithful to the rich inheritance handed down from earliest Christian times, and more open and welcoming, trying to provide worship that is meaningful, and accessible for today’s generation.

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