Mapping Methodism – Truro Bible Christian Chapel

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This profile of Truro Bible Christian Chapel has been compiled by Tony Mansell.


1817: The Bible Christians first came to Truro when they had a little chapel (rented) in Rosewin-Hill/Rosewin Lane.

The first ministers of the denomination in the city were the Rev. William Lyle and his sister. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1817: John Boyle (Boylites) retired and “handed over” his societies to the Bible Christians.

1821: A Church of England report mentioned that there were dissenters called Methodists in Truro: seceders from Methodism (probably meaning Wesleyans) which were Bryanites and Shouters or Trumpeters. The latter was said to have “very few members, chiefly women…”

The chapel soon became too small to accommodate the growing congregation. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1834: In order to meet the society’s requirements a piece of land in St Clement Street was purchased for £350. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1834: Build date.

Built as a Bible Christian chapel. (SWChurches)

1878: The chapel was considerably enlarged and improved at an outlay of £300. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1907: The Methodist New Connexion, Bible Christians and United Methodist Free Churches amalgamated to become the United Methodist Church.

1907: Became St Clement Street United Methodist Church. (SWChurches)

1932: The Wesleyan, Primitive Methodist and the United Methodist Church amalgamated to become the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

1932: Became St Clement Street Methodist Church. (SWChurches)

1876: TRURO BIBLE CHRISTIAN CHAPEL. This chapel, or, at least, the original portion of it, was built in 1835. It was a very ill-proportioned edifice, had a heavy appearance, and was allowed to get in a bad state – so bad, indeed, that some of the speakers at a meeting held on Friday week, said they were ashamed to enter it. For many years there was a mortgage of £600 on the building, and the congregations and managers of the Sunday- school (held in the chapel) were working in anything but a satisfactory manner; indeed, every department was in a depressed state. At this critical period some friends removing from a neighbouring town threw their energies into the work, and the mortgagee of the chapel (Miss blarney) offered to give J£200, provided the balance of £400 was speedily paid. Appeals were made and liberally responded to by the congregation and members of other societies, and the debt was paid. A schoolroom with necessary buildings was then erected, at a cost of £200, in the rear of the chapel, with which there was communication by means of doors and after this it was decided to enlarge and alter the chapel itself. This work has now been completed. The front has been carried out fifteen feet, a circle end to the gallery substituted for a square one, the elevation of the seats in the gallery altered, and pews added upstairs and down, whilst the free forms have had backs put to them, and the old pulpit has given place to a handsome and ornamented rostrum, behind which are two large painted glass windows, the gifts of Mr Roberts, of Truro, and Mr. Prinn, of St. Austell. The entire cost of the work has been about £450, or with the school £670. Messrs. Solomon were entrusted with the painting. The seats are oak grained, and the front of the gallery and rostrum are painted in pearl and pearl grey, with gilt mouldings. Messrs. Clemens were the masons, and Messrs. Jabez Parkyn and Edward Buzza the carpenters. The re-opening services were begun on Friday… At the meeting the Chairman stated that the school had increased by 50 pupils, and that there were 130 members in the society…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Saturday 16 December 1876)

Bible Christian Chapel, St Clement’s Street, Truro. Foundation stone with 1835 date. Now commercial premises. Opened 11th August 1835. When it was first built the chapel was set back from the street behind a number of cottages and was approached by a passage with ‘rooms’ on either side which were occupied by the preachers as their apartments until 1876 when they were taken down. Plans for the demolition of the cottage which stood between the front of the chapel and the street were considered in September 1875: the materials were to be used to build a day schoolroom at the rear of the chapel. After the demolition of the cottage the chapel was extended 15 feet towards the street. The 1876 chapel extension commemorative stone was deliberately defaced with concrete. On the 8th December 1974 the congregation joined the St. Mary’s Methodist Church and the chapel was sold and is now commercial premises (2). Earliest surviving building frontage probably 1875 (range facing road), remodelled, 1885, extended 1901 (front of rear range), possibly adding to original chapel. Built for local Bible Christian Society formed c 1817 on amalgamation with an independent Society founded in 1814 by John Boyle. Bible Christian conferences held here in 1842 and 1879. Billy Bray was invited in 1856 and 1864 to give the Sunday School Anniversary sermon (2). Coursed local stone with granite dressings. Two classical style pedimented fronts, some C19 windows. Interesting group with good frontages. Listed in Stell (b1). (Cornwall Heritage Gateway)

1853: Sunday school room built at the rear.

1874: The congregation and Sunday school largely increased under the pastorate of the Rev. I. C. Penwarden. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1875: Building a schoolroom on a piece of land at the rear of the chapel which the trustees had purchased some years before. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1876: A cottage was demolished and the chapel extended forward towards the road, a larger schoolroom added and repairs and alterations undertaken…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Saturday 16 December 1876)

A day schoolroom built at the rear of the Bible Christian Chapel in 1876. Plans for the demolition of a cottage standing between the chapel and the street were considered in 1875, and it was decided that materials from the cottage would be used to build the day schoolroom at the rear of the chapel. The school was completed in the summer of 1876, was enlarged in 1878, and again in 1901. At the same time that the schoolroom was extended in 1901, an inscribed granite slab was placed over the main entrance giving the name and date of the re-opening, although this has now been deliberately defaced with concrete. The front wall of the 1901 schoolroom has granite quoins, window and door dressings and the walls are of coursed stonework. Set towards the bottom of the wall on either side of the main entrance are three one-foot square granite blocks giving the names of the people who laid them. The south wall is of rubble masonry with red brick quoins and window arches. About three feet above a granite foundation sill, a single course of red bricks which run the length of the wall have been impressed with the initials of the people who purchased them in aid of the Schoolroom Building Fund. (1) (Cornwall Heritage Gateway)

1885: “… In the early part of this year – the jubilee of the present chapel in St. Clement-street – it was thought desirable to celebrate the event by increasing the accommodation of that edifice, and also that of the schoolroom. To this end it was decided to raise the schoolroom to the height of the chapel, to take out the end of the chapel and build an orchestra so as to leave additional room for school purposes to the extent of thirty-six feet long by thirteen feet wide with a small class-room, to reseat the chapel, and to have a new organ…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1885: “Re-opening and jubilee services…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 18 December 1885)

1902: Truro Bible Christian Church School enlarged, renovated, and re-furnished at a cost of £750. It was re-opened on Friday afternoon with a dedicatory service in the schoolroom, conducted by Mr. Mansell…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Thursday 26 June 1902)

1940: Seating for 427. (David Easton, Methodist Minister and historian)

“I attended St Clement Street Methodist Sunday School from the age of two as my aunt was a teacher there. In the attached photo, taken in October 1956, you can clearly see the row of green Lloyd loom armchairs. They had green and gold cushions on them. The boy at the back left is Andy Corner, son of the then minister Rev. Ron Corner. The Sunday school was accessed upstairs inside the side door as you walk towards the cathedral by Millpool. I am in red in the front row of the Sunday school picture.” (Kath Jones)

The manse was at the top of Agar Road. (Kath Jones)

“This picture is of my aunt’s wedding in March 1957 when I was the bridesmaid.” (Kath Jones)

1974: The Chapel closed. (David Easton, Methodist Minister and historian)

1976: Closed and the society amalgamated with St Mary’s Methodist Church. (SWChurches)

Premises sold and used as a wine store. (David Easton, Methodist Minister and historian)

4 thoughts on “Mapping Methodism – Truro Bible Christian Chapel

  1. Does anyone know if records were kept of the congregations or persons involved in the Church in the 19th Century? Would be keen to read the names of people involved with the Church.

    1. I have a copy of Ronald Tonkin’s ‘The Life and Times of a Chapel’, which he wrote, printed and published himself, detailing the history of Truro’s Bible Christian Chapel, and which contains the names of many people associated with it over the years. Are there specific periods you would be interested in, in which case I could copy the odd page or two for you?

      1. Hi Rex, It’s really anything about the building and, as my gt gradfather was invoved there, anything about A J Mansell.

        1. My apologies for the delay in replying. I have scanned Ronald Tonkin’s book (there is no index) and on page 47 vI found the following: “The several years of faithful service rendered by Bro. A.J. Mansell were considered in 1944 by the Trust, who decided that a testimonial should be presented as a token of their appreciation. May 1 was the date fixed for the presentation…” Is this the individual you were interested in?

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