St Just in Roseland Church is about 20 minutes’ drive from Bosinver. This glorious little church is one of my favourite places to visit at any time of year. It’s the most tranquil and soul-nourishing space I know, offering peace, silence, beauty and awe in equal measure. It always makes me feel ‘far from the madding crowds’.
Described by Sir John Betjeman as ‘the most beautiful churchyard on earth’, the church itself dates from 1261 with some 13th and 15th century additions. My favourite feature is the wonderfully colourful roof bosses, modern replicas of the original medieval ones.
The gardens tumble down from the car park through a lovely lychgate, dating from 1620. This originally contained a ‘coffin slab’ where the coffins of local people carried in vía bearers or horse and cart were placed prior to burial. I love the wild but well-tended mix of trees and shrubs surrounding the hotchpotch of gravestones, some dating from the 17th century.
Many of the subtropical plants were placed here by John Treseder, a well-known 19th century Cornish gardener. He brought seeds and plants back from a foraging trip to Australia, including the Western Red Cedars which feature in many coastal gardens in Cornwall.
One of the other features I love are the granite stones lining the path down to the church provided by Church Rector, Rev Humphrey Davis (1901-1930). They contain scriptures texts and verses, hymns and poetry. Each was installed with a short ceremony of dedication. My favourite is this one:
I enjoy pottering around the churchyard reading the gravestones. There’s a wide variety, some with simple inscriptions of names and dates and some with flowery verse. It’s interesting to see whole families but sad to find so many young children in the older graves. In Cornwall we have many coastal churchyards often detailing unknown sailors washed in from shipwrecks.
The churchyard goes down to St Just Pool, where there is a working boatyard. There are some excellent walks from here in both directions. You could head off to do a spectacular circular walk to St Mawes and back along the Carrick Roads, or turn right at the creek and walk to Messack.
You can plan an hour or a day here, whichever you choose, I guarantee it will find a place in your heart!
St Just in Roseland Church: useful information
There are two car parks close to the church (suggested donation £2). Find out more and see directions.