Mapping Methodism – Balwest Wesleyan Chapel

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Balwest is a hamlet in the civil parish of Porthleven in west Cornwall. It is in the civil parish of Germoe. The hamlet is on the southern edge of a former mining area, part of a geological formation known as the Tregonning-Godolphin Granite which was formerly an important source of tin and copper ore. This profile of Balwest Wesleyan Chapel has been compiled by Barry West and Tony Mansell.


Balwest Chapel and Sunday School from Tregonning Hill (Photo: Barry West)


Sunday school and possible first chapel

The graveyard with the Sunday school and chapel beyond (Photo: Barry West)

The Sunday school and possible former chapel (Photo: Paul Phillips)

Sunday school (possibly the original Wesleyan chapel pre-dating the 1829 dated chapel across the road), built within Wesleyan burial ground. Vernacular colour-washed rubble walls; scantle slate roof. Vernacular example with 12-pane sash windows to side walls (flanking blocked original doorway to right-hand wall) and later central doorway to front end. On left is gateway to burial ground with granite gate-piers and granite grid stile with low side walls. On the right are grouted rubble forecourt walls. Very interesting group. (Cornwall Council Heritage Gateway)


1829 Chapel

1829: Build date. (Chapel plaque)

The chapel was built as a Wesleyan chapel. (SWChurches)

A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was opened at Balwest in 1829 for miners. (Balwest Heritage Society)

A Wesleyan Methodist chapel was opened at Balwest in 1829 for miners. The building is Grade II listed. (Wikipedia)

Wesleyan chapel in small, dispersed hamlet, grouped with Sunday school and traphouse across the road. Colour washed rubble with pediment to front end with round-arched openings: 2 sash windows with fanlight heads over central doorway. Good interior with horse-shoe gallery. Very interesting group. Listed in Stell (b1). (Cornwall Council Heritage Gateway)

Part of Marazion Wesleyan circuit. (SWChurches)

30 Nov 1896: Surrender of lease, Wesleyan chapel, Balwest. Parties: 1) Rosevear Rosewarne of Godolphin, farmer, William Lobb of Trenance, St. Austell, agent, and Nathaniel Coulson Whear of Penzance, sanitary inspector 2) George Godolphin, Duke of Leeds. Plot, part of Balwest common, late in the occupation of James Schollar, with the chapel erected there, by assignment and by lease of 1860, 1) being the surviving trustees, who have applied for a new lease. Number 69, Manor of Godolphin. (Kresen Kernow RH/1/1947)

31 Dec 1897: Lease, Wesleyan chapel and Sunday School, Balwest, Germoe. Parties: 1) George Godolphin, Duke of Leeds 2) The Reverend Robert Hasell Killip of Wesley House, Marazion, present superintendent minister of the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion. 3) Rosevear Rosewarne of Reawla, Gwinear, retired farmer, William Trerise Richards of Godolphin farm, Thomas Polglase of Godolphin Cross, shoemaker, John Kitto of Great Work, miner, Richard Rogers of Great Work, miner, Benjamin Edwards, junior, of Herland Cross, farmer, all of Breage; John Thomas of Tresowes, builder, John Richards junior of Tresowes, miner, Joseph Kitchen of Tresowes, miner, John Harvey of Boscreeg, stone breaker, William King of Tresowes, clay worker, William Richards of Tresowes, farmer, Thomas William Richards of Balwest, smith, William Polglase of Boscreeg, miner, James Jacka of Ninnis, farmer, Samuel James of churchtown, engineer, and John Kitto of Tresowes, miner, all of Germoe; Herbert Arthur Rosewarne of Coswansawsen, Gwinear, farmer, and William Williams of Crowan, farmer, trustees. Recites lease by the Duke of Leeds to George William Wood of 1828 [RH/1/1946] of the premises where the chapel has since been built. Consideration: surrender of former lease; also the lessees have recently spent at least £150 in erecting a Sunday school room. Term: 75 years. Rent: 10 shillings. Plot of ground, Wesleyan chapel and premises at Balwest now in the occupation of the lessees; also a plot where the lessees have recently erected a Sunday school room. Plan on dorse. Number 69, Manor of Godolphin. Read more… (Kresen Kernow RH/1/1948)

1899: “FORM OF STATUTORY NOTICE. NOTICE is HEREBY GIVEN that a separate building, named “WESLEYAN CHAPEL,” situated at Balwest, in the civil parish of Germoe, the county of Cornwall, in the registration district of Helston, being building certified according to law as a place of meeting for religious worship, was, on the 31st day of July, 1839, duly registered for solemnizing marriages therein, pursuant to the Act of 6th and 7th Wm. IV., c. 85. Witness my hand this first day of August, 1899. FREDERICK VIVIAN HILL, Superintendent-registrar. HELSTON UNION.” (Cornishman – Thursday 10 August 1899)

11 Jun 1902: Copy newspaper cutting, dedication of cemetery, Balwest Wesleyan Chapel, Germoe. (Kresen Kernow MRMB/398)

The 1902 Stable and Traphouse (Photo: Barry West)

Balwest Chapel (Photo: Barry West)

Balwest Chapel which has a build date plaque at both ends (Photo: Barry West)

The Altar (Photo: Barry West)

One of the lovely windows behind the pulpit (Photo: Barry West)

The boxed seating and beautiful balcony (Photo: Barry West)

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

1932: Became Balwest Methodist Church from 1932. (SWChurches)

Part of Marazion Methodist Circuit. (SWChurches)

The chapel has its own cemetery, opened in 1902. (SWChurches)

Methodist chapel. 1829. Slurried granite rubble with dressed granite quoins, jambstones, sills, voussoirs, lintels, pediment string and gable copings. Low- pitched grouted scantle slate roof with coped gable ends, the entrance front gable in the form of a simple triangular pediment. Cast iron ogee gutters. Plan: rectangular aisless plan with semi-circular-on-plan gallery on 3 sides, the ritual east end, west, and the entrance front facing approximately east. Later single storey room at the west end. Symmetrical 2 window east entrance front: round-headed central ground floor doorway, 2 original round-headed hornless sashes to light gallery above and all surmounted by a simple triangular pediment with central blind oculus (presumably for former date plaque). The doorway has double doors and fanlight, the windows have integral. fanlights. The round-headed arches have projecting granite keystones. The sides are 2-storey 2-window elevations with circa late C19 or C20 4-pane horned sashes in the original openings. Interior: is largely complete. The gallery has been reduced so that it now reaches only halfway long each side but original panelling has been used to return the now canted ends. The gallery is now carried on 5 of the original Doric columns. There is a complex moulded cornice under the gallery front and the front has bead-mouldings with scalloped corners to the rectangular panels. At the east end of the chapel, and in the gallery over, the original box pews survive. The fine rostrum has a canted pulpit and a short flight of stairs at either side. There are 2 memorial windows with coloured glass in the west wall. This building is a good example of an early C19 Methodist chapel, restrained classical style with detail more domestic than ecclesiastical. Sources: 150th Church Anniversary leaflet. Nonconformist Chapels (manuscript) by Christopher Stell, R.C.H.M., to be published by HMSO. Listing NGR: SW5960329964. (Historic England)

2 thoughts on “Mapping Methodism – Balwest Wesleyan Chapel

  1. Hello from BC Canada…I’ve been working on my ancestor genealogy for years and only just found this location…Robert Toy and wife Elizabeth and family worked and lived there..excited to hear about this part of Cornwall thank you..Margaret…

  2. Thank you for this lovely information. We have a family connection to Balwest through the Richards family, the christening bowl being a gift dedicated to my material grandmother Lottie Irene Richards. Thank you!!!

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