Described by John Betjeman as ‘to many people the most beautiful churchyard on earth’, the gardens of St Just in Roseland have delighted many, many people over many years. Explore the winding paths through the bamboos, follow the running stream down to the creek and pause by our Holy Well. Beautiful views lead the eye over to the boatyard or back towards the church. Step away from all the noise and traffic and rest in the tranquillity of our historic church.
History of the Church
St Just in Roseland Church is one of Cornwall’s most visited churches. The 13th century church is set amongst beautiful gardens beside a peaceful tidal creek. A local legend tells of Joseph of Arimathea bringing his boy nephew, Jesus, to Cornwall, and that he landed at St Just in Roseland.
The church is on the site of a 6th century Celtic chapel, and for 400 years after its foundation it was served by clergy from the adjacent cell of Lanzeague, until Roseland was taken over by the Saxon Bishops of Crediton and Exeter. Robert, Bishop of Exeter, gave St Just Church to the Canons of Plympton Priory in 1140, but the patronage was bought back in 1190 by John le Sor, Lord of Tolverne for a yearly sum of 13s 4d, which would be paid out of the Benefice to the Priory.
The present church was dedicated to St Just on 14th August 1261, by Walter, Bishop of Exeter, and the Chancel, with its double piscina, is of this date. The parish registers date from 1538.
History of the Gardens
A 19th century Rector, aided by John Garland Treseder, introduced many tropical plants, and the combination of the church on the water’s edge and the wonderful flowers and shrubs in the churchyard are what gives the church its uniqueness. The path down to the church from the road is lined with granite stones which are carved with quotations and verses taken from the Bible.
In H.V.Morton’s book ‘In Search of England’ (first published in 1927) he wrote ‘I have blundered into a Garden of Eden that cannot be described in pen or paint. There is a degree of beauty that flies so high that no net of words or no snare of colour can hope to capture it, and of this order is the beauty of St Just in Roseland…. I would like to know if there is in the whole of England a churchyard more beautiful than this.’ *
Today the gardens continue to inspire wonder in visitors and residents alike, and the resident church community is committed to keeping and maintaining the church and grounds for the generations to come. We warmly invite you to support us in this task.
* you can download the whole H.V. Morton extract on St Just in Roseland (pdf) here
With trails and paths, the gardens are a place of discovery and adventure for all ages. Find the Holy Well, see if the tide has come in, listen to the birds, count the boats in the boatyard, seek out the geo-caches. We have a children’s area inside the church with a discovery trail leaflet and colouring in, and looking at all the colourful pictures on the beautiful kneelers is great fun.
There are many circular paths through our churchyard and each path leads either to the lychgates, the church or the creek. You can’t get lost, but you may want to look out for some special sights, please click below for our ‘What to look for’ information