Helston, Cornwall

Charles Wesley visited the area in 1746, but preached in the neighbouring parish of Sithney, referring to Helston as ‘a town of rebels and persecutors’. Until 1845 the town itself was in the parish of Wendron. John Wesley found ‘many from Helston’ in his Sithney congregation on his first visit in September 1747. Sickness prevented him from preaching in Helston itself in 1753, but he did so for the first time on 3 September 1755, describing the town as ‘once turbulent enough, but now quiet as Penryn’. (There are references to his being pelted with rotten vegetables.) The first society, of five members, was formed by a Peter Quintrell and met at the home of a Mrs. Warren just inside Sithney parish. The society prospered and a chapel was built there at St. John’s Bridge c. 1760-61. Methodism was not yet tolerated in the town itself.

In 1796 a piece of land was acquired just off Coinagehall Street and a Wesleyan chapel, seating 850, was opened there in1798 to accommodate the congregation that had outgrown the St. John’s chapel. This soon became the mother church of a large and flourishing circuit with a membership of 800 by 1821. On 1st May 1889, with the need for more accommodation, a new chapel, built in front of the old one at a cost of £5,000, was opened. Its predecessor was converted into a hall and classrooms and became known as the Epworth Hall. The new chapel has an imposing frontage and a very fine coffered ceiling. Unfortunately, its centenary had to be celebrated back in Epworth Hall as there were structural problems in the ceiling. Funds were raised for the restructuring and refurbishing and the chapel was reopened on 11 February 1995. It was renamed 'Central Methodist Church' in 2016 when it was joined by Trewennack Methodist Church.The sanctuary is now on the first floor and retains its beautiful ceiling. The classrooms and ‘Wesley Hall’ at street level provide for much greater community use. Both buildings were ‘listed’ in 1990 .

The Wesleyan day school records date from 1844; at that time it was at The Tubban and is the present Masonic Hall. In 1856 the Wesleyans bought the old workhouse in Shute Hill and converted it into a day school, which was taken over by the County Council in 1903. In 2019 he churtch was awarded a bronze ECO award for switching to an eco-friendly energy supply, the second to do so in Cornwall

The Wesleyan Methodist Association built a chapel in 1838 in Church Street on the site of a former brewery. It was frequently referred to as ‘the Little Ship’, became United Methodist in 1907 and was demolished in 1969, after the congregation had joined the Coinagehall Street society the previous year.

The Bible Christians buiilt a chapel in Meneage Street in 1859. It closed in 1961 and the congregation joined the one in Coinagehall Street. In2019

Quotations

Charles Wesley's Journal:

July 1746: 'Rode to Sithney, where the word begins to take root. The rebels of Helston threatened hard. All manner of evil they say of us. Papists we are, that's certain; and are for bringing in the Pretender. Nay, the vulgar are persuaded I have brought him with me, and James Waller is the man…'

John Wesley's Journal:

September 1766: 'What a surprising change is wrought here also within a few years, where a Methodist preacher could hardly go through the street without a shower of stones!'

Sources
  • Helston Methodist Church Centenary 1889-1989
  • Betty G. Pascoe, Reflections on Some People Called Methodists in Helston 1755-2001 (Helston, 2001)

Entry written by: BGP
Category: Place
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