Ancient Monuments

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Medieval chapel of St Michael's on Roche Rock

A Scheduled Monument in Roche, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.402 / 50°24'7"N

Longitude: -4.8282 / 4°49'41"W

OS Eastings: 199111.376578

OS Northings: 59617.167241

OS Grid: SW991596

Mapcode National: GBR ZV.VM37

Mapcode Global: FRA 07SZ.LTG

Entry Name: Medieval chapel of St Michael's on Roche Rock

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006664

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 191

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Roche

Built-Up Area: Roche

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Roche

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval chapel, built onto a prominent rocky outcrop known as Roche Rock. The chapel survives as a small rectangular roofless building which partly utilises the rocky outcrop on which it is built. The lower floor provided accommodation for the chaplain (or an anchorite) with the chapel above. The external walls retain architectural mouldings which surround the doorways and windows although the upper floor has been removed. The building is currently accessed by iron ladders clamped to the rock. The chapel was licensed and built in 1409.

St Michael's Chapel is Listed Grade I (70972).

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-429980

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre- Reformation period. Chapels were designed for congregational worship and were generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provided accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which was the main domain of the priest and contained the principal altar. Around 4000 parochial chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship built for the convenience of parishioners who lived at a distance from the main parish church. Other chapels were built as private places of worship by manorial lords and lie near or within manor houses, castles or other high-status residences. Chantry chapels were built and maintained by endowment and were established for the singing of masses for the soul of the founder. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. Unlike parish churches, the majority of which remain in ecclesiastical use, chapels were often abandoned as their communities and supporting finances declined or disappeared. Many chantry chapels disappeared after the dissolution of their supporting communities in the 1540s. Chapels, like parish churches, have always been major features of the landscape. Abandoned chapels were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment. The medieval chapel of St Michael's on Roche Rock is one of the most striking and instantly recognisable in Cornwall. Its location, perched onto a sheer rocky outcrop rising above the surrounding landscape, is undoubtedly of both spiritual and social significance and the nature of the fabric indicates the intricacies and technical difficulties of building such a chapel in a difficult and exposed location.

Source: Historic England

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