Mapping Methodism – Profiling the Heritage of Cornish Chapels

Christianity and place have been closely connected in Cornwall since the middle decades of the eighteenth century through the rich heritage of Methodism. It is a connection that is still symbolised today by the physical presence of town and village chapels and Cornish Story is now working in partnership with both the Methodist Church and the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies to create a series of profiles of both existing and former religious sites. Entitled ‘Mapping Methodism’, the project team led by Garry Tregidga and Tony Mansell would like to hear from volunteer researchers who would be interested in the study of chapels and other related sites (e.g. outdoor preaching pits) at the local level. The immediate task is to create a series of historical timelines on individual sites with relating information on any books, films or other media. A template will be provided along with advice on researching the subject. The aim would then be to disseminate this information through digital platforms and use this project as a catalyst for further research in relation to the Methodist heritage of Cornwall.

Karin Easton, President of the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies said, ‘Mapping Methodism is an ideal project for Old Cornwall Societies to become involved with. The information resulting from the project so clearly matches the Old Cornwall Societies motto of "Gather ye fragments that are left that nothing be lost" "Kyntelleugh an brewyon es gesys, na vo kellys travyth”. There are over forty societies all across Cornwall making them ideal partners to assist with researching the connections with Methodism in their area. Uploading the research on to the Kernow Goth/Old Cornwall website will make it all available for future researchers worldwide’.

Patrick Reynolds, District Property Secretary for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Methodist District, said that ‘The Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Methodist District is delighted to be in partnership with Cornish Story and the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies for this exciting and much needed project, It is planned as the first phase of a wider project to discover and explore the continuing story of Methodism within Cornwall. The participation and involvement of volunteer researchers will provide a unique opportunity for local communities to explore and record their links with Methodism, and to better understand how these frequently extensive links have developed and evolved through time.’

Researchers Template - Mapping Methodism

This template provides an overview of requirements and can be downloaded as a pdf document plus a separate guidance pdf at the end of this section. Please contact us if you would like more assistance in getting involved with this project. 

(This template is for guidance as is the attached example for Mawla Chapel)

Chapel Name or Preaching Location: ___________________________________________________________

Whether originally Wesleyan, Bible Christian, Primitive etc: ________________________________________

Name(s) of researcher(s) / author(s):  ___________________________________________________________

Map showing chapel location:

(These maps are very suitable and relatively easy to use – highlight and copy the blue link and then paste it into your browser or press control Ctrl on your keyboard hover over the link, when you see the hand click)

National Library of Scotland - Maps

This should take you directly to maps of Cornwall allowing you to zoom onto the area that interests you

Please complete as much information as possible relating to the sections below

  • ????: Year built.
  • Features such as capacity, who built and any important aspects.
  • One or more photographs with dates.
  • ????: Significant events.
  • Is / was there a Sunday school building?

If the chapel was replaced:

  • ????: Year built.
  • Features such as capacity, who built or any important aspects.
  • One or more photographs with dates.
  • ????: Significant events.
  • Is / was there a Sunday school building?

If the chapel was closed:

  • ????: Closure date.
  • ????: Date if demolished.
  • Present use of building or site.

Please add any additional information relating to the chapel that could benefit the reader

(e.g. books/articles written about the site or film/oral histories that might be online)

Please construct your chapel history using “Word” and email it to Cornish Story: mappingmethodism@gmail.com

If you wish to contribute but would prefer not to use the template, we will be happy to receive information relating to chapels including names, locations, historical information and photographs so that others can complete the template.

Similarly, we would like information on preaching locations. In comparison with chapels there is likely to be less information but any data (including stories that have survived in local folklore would be welcome)

For queries regarding content please contact either

Garry Tregidga 07714 210966 or Tony Mansell 07812 463746

 

Thank you for taking an interest in “Mapping Methodism” we hope you will join this project

 

Additional information and advice:

This together with further guidance information can be downloaded through the button at the bottom of this section 

Research may be aided by reference to the Cornwall Council website: www.cornwall.gov.uk Historic Environment Records through the Interactive Mapping section. Any new finds can also be reported.

Further mapping research can be found vis the National Library of Scotland website at www.maps.nls.uk Also at Archi Maps www.archiuk.com

A list of church and chapel links for Cornwall can also be found at the following websites:

The Churches of Britain and Ireland

SW Churches / Cornwall

When taking part in this project we would ask that you to bear in mind the “Buildings at Risk Project” being undertaken by Cornwall Building Group. Details of this can be found at www.kernowgoth.org

The Federation website has a webpage helping to promote and assist contributors with further information, website links and advice. This can be accessed via a button on the www.kernowgoth.org Home Page.

For those who wish to participate and finding themselves with technical challenges, please call Len Sheppard the Federation Publicity Officer on 01637 850055 or by email publicity@oldcornwall.net he will be pleased to help you.

To prevent duplication please check to see if your choice of chapel is already being researched and compiled. If so, once it has been published if you have additional information, we would be very pleased to add your information and images

Projects currently being researched and compiled - Click for chapels already being compiled

Chapels already completed, subject to additional information being discovered - Click for published chapels

Mawla Wesleyan Chapel

By Clive Benney & Tony Mansell

1805: Lysons referred to the remains of an ancient chapel at Mola.

1842: Mawla Wesleyan chapel built with seating for a congregation of 120.

The chapel was also used for the Sunday school.

The chapel was “by the side of the high road to Menagissey, about half a mile beyond Mawla Farm”. (Maurice Bizley)

1847: Mr Newton recorded in a paper to the Royal Institution of Cornwall that Mawla Chapel was 25 to 30 feet long by 16 feet wide and had recently been used as a cows’ house. He said that the font together with all the other remarkable parts of the building were gone. (Presumably this is the chapel referred to by Lysons)

Mawla Map
Mawla tea treat pre-1902 in front of a building which may be the 1842 chapel (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)

8th July 1908: Foundation stone laid for new chapel.

1908: Laying the foundation stone (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)
1908: Laying the foundation stone (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)
1908: Laying the foundation stone (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)

1909: Opening of new chapel.

The interior of the 1908 chapel (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)
1908: Leaving the chapel after the opening (Photo: courtesy Clive Benney)

The 1842 chapel continued to be used for the Sunday school when services transferred to the 1908 chapel about 50 yards away.

The 1842 chapel was considered unsafe and demolished.

Peter Simmons of Mawla, whose family farmed the field in question, recalled pieces of foundation being removed from the field, appropriately named Chapel Croft. (We are unsure if this refers to the chapel mentioned by Lysons or the 1842 chapel)

2008:  New community hall built next to chapel.

Early Image of Mawla Wesleyan Chapel
Mawla Wesleyan Chapel 2020 (Photo: Tony Mansell)
Mawla Wesleyan Chapel 2020 showing hall/schoolroom (Photo: Tony Mansell)