Mapping Methodism – Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel

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Twelveheads is a hamlet east of St Day in the parish of Chacewater between Truro and Redruth. The name comes from its mining history. Sets of stamps, machines for crushing ore, were once used on the dressing floors in the village. The stamps had a total of twelve ‘heads’. Billy Bray, the Methodist preacher, was born here. This profile of Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel has been compiled by Jo Lewis and Tony Mansell.


According to Billy Bray, his grandfather help build the chapel – the group was led by a Mr Sandoe. (Billy Bray Memoirs circa 1864)

Possibly the Thatched chapel of Twelveheads and maybe built circa 1760. (The Journal of the Cornish Methodist Historical Association Volume Four No. 5 May 1974)

Between 1818 and 1828: Twelveheads Society formed. (The Journal of the Cornish Methodist Historical Association Volume Four No. 5 May 1974)

19th July 1819: Date of registration. (Probert) Could this indicate an earlier build date for the circa 1828 chapel?


Circa 1828 Chapel

Circa 1828: Build date for Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel thought to be 1828. (Cornwall Council Heritage Gateway/Wesley’s Ministerial Itineraries in Cornwall 1879)

1869: The trustees of Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel considering making alterations to the building. (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Saturday 31 July 1869)

1876: Seating for 380. (Wesley’s Ministerial Itineraries in Cornwall 1879)

1880: “On Saturday evening last, an interesting service of song entitled “Uncle Tom,” was given at Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel, in aid of the Trust Fund. The chapel was crowded in every part, and the service was highly appreciated by the attentive audience the musical part of the service was given by the Ponsanooth Wesleyan choir, accompanied by the organist, Mr T. Odgers…” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 27 February 18

1882: “To Painters Tenders for the Painting of Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel, Are invited on or before the 31st inst. The Committee do not bind themselves to accept the lowest or any tender. B. H. Stapel, Chacewater. Twelveheads, May 6, 1852.” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 19 May 1882)

1883: “A new organ was opened on Sunday at the Wesleyan Chapel, Twelveheads. Mr. M. Clemens, of Truro, presided at the new instrument, and thoroughly tested both its power and tone. Messrs. Brewer and Co., of Truro, are the builders, and the same firm has been instructed to build a new instrument for Polruan, near Fowey, which makes four for Wesleyan Chapels, beside two for Churches to be erected in the county this year.” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Friday 13 April 1883)

1886: Sunday School built. (Cornwall Council Mapping)

1891: “The Twelveheads Wesleyans. The Twelveheads chapel was re-opened after enlargement and renovation on Thursday. The Rev. F. Woofenden, of Redruth, preached to a large congregation in the afternoon. A tea followed, which was very largely patronised, after which public meeting was held. Mr. W, Rabling, J.P., C.C., of Camborne, presided, and was supported the Rev. W. S. D. Winter (superintendent). F, Woofenden (Redruth), Messrs. John Nettle (Mount Hawke), J. Bawden (Chacewater), C. W. Boot, and Captain Hay. The chapel was crowded. The services were continued on Sunday, when Mr. C. W. Boot preached in the morning, and the Rev. T. Darlington, of Falmouth, in the afternoon and evening. The total outlay has been £420 … making nett total in hand of over £2OO. Just now we are glad record an advance “all along the line” in the Gwennap circuit.” (The Cornish Telegraph – Thursday 12 November 1891)

1894: Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel extended. (Cornwall Council Mapping) Perhaps this relates to the 1891 enlargement.

1924:  The Wesleyan fete at Twelveheads on Saturday was a special effort on behalf of the organ fund. Twelveheads boasts a fine new organ and other recent additions in the shape a vestry for the preachers, another for the choir, outbuildings attached the schoolroom for wood and coal, as well new stable. The cost of these enlargements was £7OO. £5OO of this has been paid off and Saturday’s fete was to reduce the remaining debt. The builders of the organ are Messrs. Hele and Coy, of Plymouth. The proceedings began by singing the hymn, “Praise ye the Lord,” Mr. Whitford, after offering prayer, called upon Mrs. Hockey, of St. Day, to perform the opening ceremony. Mrs. Hockey, in thanking Mr. Whitford for his kind words, said that was the first time she had opened a function of that sort. She expressed her great appreciation of the work done at Twelveheads. and in a few glowing words exhorted her hearers to greater love and service in the work of God. She deplored the fact that the rain had made outdoor fete impossible, but she added, “we must make it jolly tea party instead.” The great thing was that money should come in, and she wished Twelveheads every success in its undertaking. Mr. Whitford moved a vote of thanks Mrs. Hockey, which was seconded by Mr. R. Escott. In the course of his remarks, the latter deplored the materialism of the world to-day but that, he said, was not the note of Mrs Hockey’s address. She put the first thing first. In returning thanks on behalf of his wife, Mr. Hockey pointed out what a great help the chapel was to any boy or girl who came among them, and they should make the sanctuary as attractive possible for the benefit of the younger generation they would find that the seeds sown in kindness would be reaped in love. The stallholders were; …” (Cornubian and Redruth Times – Thursday 11 September 1924)

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

1932: Became Twelveheads Methodist Church.

1945: New lease agreement due to the original one having lapsed. (The Journal of the Cornish Methodist Historical Association Volume Four No. 5 May 1974)

1958: “Billy Bray is one of the best known names in Cornish Methodism and the obelisk erected to his memory in Baldhu churchyard is visited by pilgrims from all parts of the world. There is surprisingly little information available about him. He was born at Twelveheads near Chacewater on June 1. 1794; died on May 22. 1868; and was buried on May 25, in Baldhu churchyard. His father was a pious man, and he died when his children were very young. Then they lived with their grandfather. where Billy remained until he was 17 years old. The name of neither the father nor the grandfather is known: possibly they were both called William. The grandfather was one of the early Wesleyans and helped to build Twelveheads Chapel. Billy, on his return to Cornwall lived, worked and preached in many places. but concerning this there is little first hand evidence; such accounts have been published are chiefly reminiscences produced after his death.” (Cornish Guardian – Thursday 31 July 1958)

“Twelveheads Methodist church is a simple rectangular structure which is well decorated with a pipe organ in an organ chamber at the front of the chapel. The pipe organ can be found in the National Pipe Organ Register” (Wikipedia)

Twelveheads Methodist Chapel (Facebook)

Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel (Photo: Jo Lewis)

Twelveheads Wesleyan Chapel (Photo: Jo Lewis)

“Wesleyan chapel in hamlet. Remodelled and extended in 1894. Local rubble front with granite dresssings, side walls painted, rear with brick dressings; dry slate roof. Attractive example with round-arched windows and simple Italianate show front with moulded coping. Inscribed foundation stones at rear. Interior has late C19 fittings. Good group with detached 1886 Sunday school q.v..” (Cornwall Council Heritage Gateway)


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