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The Old Rectory

A Grade II Listed Building in Saint Austell, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4051 / 50°24'18"N

Longitude: -4.8345 / 4°50'4"W

OS Eastings: 198673

OS Northings: 59975

OS Grid: SW986599

Mapcode National: GBR ZT.JKF4

Mapcode Global: FRA 07RZ.BD1

Plus Code: 9C2QC548+25

Entry Name: The Old Rectory

Listing Date: 11 April 1995

Last Amended: 26 March 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1226634

English Heritage Legacy ID: 424009

Location: Roche, Cornwall, PL26

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

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A rectory, built c1819-22 for Reverend Thomas Fisher, with later extensions to the rear; including garden walls and ha-ha.


A rectory, now (2014) a house, built c1819-22 for Reverend Thomas Fisher, with later extensions to the rear; together with garden walls and ha-ha.

Granite ashlar with slate roofs, and brick stacks.

Roughly square, double-depth plan, with irregular extensions to the rear (north-west) side. Principal rooms are ranged along the south-eastern side, overlooking the gardens.

The house is of two storeys and has a shallow-pitched, hipped slate roof and tall, rectangular gable end stacks. The principal elevation is the south-eastern garden front, a symmetrical, three-bay arrangement, with three-over-six pane first-floor sashes, and six-over-nine pane ground-floor sashes; the ground-floor window to the right has been altered by the insertion of a late C19, canted, ashlar bay window. A plat band and deep bracketed eaves run across this elevation and the returns. There is similar fenestration to these elevations; the right-hand, three-window entrance front has a keyed, flat arch over the six-panel door. The rear elevation is irregular, the result of a series of remodellings to the service ranges; parts are rendered, and some slopes have roof lights.

The interior retains its high-quality early C19 decorative scheme almost intact. There are panelled doors in moulded architraves with contemporary handles throughout, panelled shutters to the principal rooms, and moulded cornicing (that to the parlour enriched with trailing vines). There are also moulded architraves to the cupboard recesses and other original joinery. The entrance hall from the north-east give access via an arch to the central stair hall, and to the left to the principal rooms, which have panelled shutters and shutter boxes, moulded cornices, and one with a section of original shelving with a heavy cornice over the shelves and an extended, panelled doorcase, indicating that it was used as a library. Both rooms to the garden front have paired, segmental-arched niches in their end walls, with reeded uprights and floral bosses. To the right, immediately on entering the entrance hall, another large room is believed to have been that in which the rector received his parishioners, in order to maintain the division between the family and public spaces. The rooms have a variety of wood and stone chimneypieces which retain their original cast-iron grates. The former service rooms have undergone some alterations but retain their layout and some joinery. To the rear, a larder retains its slate shelves and half-glazed door.

The open-well stair has paired, turned balusters to the open string and a wreathed handrail. Its half-landing has two narrow doors set at angles in the corners, giving access to rooms in the service range beyond, including the former housekeeper’s room. First-floor bedrooms retain their shutters and shutter boxes, and fireplaces appropriate in size to their locations. There are original floorboards throughout the house.

The rectory has a number of buildings and structures within its grounds. To the south-west of the house is a WALLED GARDEN, which is bounded on the north and west sides by high granite walls c 3m high. A wide doorway with a plank and batten door under a segmental-arched head with flush voussoirs leads from the walled garden to the rear yard; a wide buttress stands between the doorway and the house. To the south of the house, the stone-lined HA-HA follows a serpentine line and bisects the plot, dividing the pleasure grounds from the park paddock beyond.


The Church of St Gomonda, which lies to the south of the former rectory gardens, dates back to the C13, and by the time that a new incumbent, the Rev Thomas Fisher was appointed as rector of Roche in 1819, it was in a poor state of repair. The living had been bought by an evangelical society in London in 1754, and ‘Parson Fisher’, as he was known, found the church not only in need of extensive repairs, but too ornamented for his low-church tastes, and set about making major alterations. These included changing the structure from a cruciform church with transepts and aisles to a large, undivided nave. The existing rectory, at Parkwoon, had been deteriorating since at least the early C18, when the parish records show that the reed-thatched roofs were leaking and the ground floor had mud floors, so Parson Fisher built a large, new rectory for himself in Regency style, possibly using some of the dressed granite which he had removed from the church. The house, with its attendant coach house, piggery and stables, was set at the northern end of the roughly rectangular area of glebe land between the church and the old lane to Harmony, which ran behind the house.

In the period c1819-1822 Parson Fisher laid out an extensive garden, on the lines of a miniature country-house landscape, to the south of the house, between his home and the church, which lay on rising ground; the features included a high-walled garden to the west of the house, a kitchen garden with glasshouse, and a sunken lawn, beyond which the garden was separated from the adjacent glebe fields, which formed a park paddock, by a serpentine ha-ha. The views from the house were focused across the garden and paddock to the tower of the church beyond, and incorporated a standing Celtic cross which stood beyond the ha-ha. Along the western boundary of the glebe land, running between the rear of the rectory and the western edge of the churchyard, Fisher created a long path between an avenue of ash trees, which offered a safe route for worshippers between the village and the church. The ensemble was admired by Drew and Hitchens, who wrote warmly in their History of Cornwall, published in 1824, that Parson Fisher had “erected a new and commodious house of residence, and surrounded it with a garden and shrubbery laid out with no small degree of elegance and taste”. A stone cross (listed Grade II) was added to the garden in 1921.

The house has undergone various alterations to the rear (north-eastern) elevation, in the C19 and C20. The coach house was altered in the C20 to lower its height, and various new openings were introduced, and the piggery roof has collapsed.

Reasons for Listing

The Old Rectory at Roche, a former parsonage built c1819-22 for Reverend Thomas Fisher, is listed at Grade II, together with its walled garden and ha-ha, for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: as an early C19 rectory, in Regency style, demonstrating good quality in architectural style;
* Historic interest: as part of an early C19 development of house and garden on the site by Parson Fisher, who sited the house deliberately with views of the church of St Gomonda, and a Celtic cross in the meadow beyond the garden;
* Interior: the interior retains almost all of its high-quality decorative scheme largely intact;
* Group value: with the Trerank cross in the rectory garden, a second cross in the meadow beyond (both listed at Grade II), and the Church of St Gomonda (Grade II*), on which the garden front is aligned.

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