Mapping Methodism – Tregonning Hill Preaching Pit

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Tregonning Hill is the westerly of two granite hills overlooking Mount’s Bay in west Cornwall, the other being Godolphin Hill. They are approximately 6 kilometres west of the town of Helston. This profile of Tregonning Hill Preaching Pit was compiled by Barry West and Tony Mansell.


Little is known of Tregonning Hill Preaching Pit, nestling as it does below Castle Pencaire, but its existence and possible use by John Wesley belies the claim that Cornwall has only four Preaching Pits: Gwennap, Indian Queens, Newlyn East and Whitemoor.

“… For many years on Whit Sundays, Ashton Methodists have congregated here for their Sunday School celebrations. Nowadays Christians of many denominations meet annually for ecumenical services.” (Germoe Parish Council)

“It is possible that this Preaching Pit was favoured as a smaller version of Gwennap Pit near Redruth, where John Wesley preached on many occasions.” (Germoe Parish Council)

18th August 1750 / 10th September 1765: John Wesley visited Breage. He wrote in his diary “I preached at Breage under a lovely shade of trees”. (Germoe Parish Council)

The path to the Preaching Pit (Photo: Barry West)

The Preaching Pit (Photo: Barry West)

Circa 1970: Ashton Chapel Anniversary – Breage Band playing at Tregonning Preaching Pit. Robert Jewell, marked with an ‘X’ playing Tenor Horn, said that Breage Band played there every year during the 1960s and 70s for the Chapel Anniversary: at the Tregonning Hill pit in the afternoon and in the same evening either outside the Public House if dry, or in the Chapel if raining. (Photo: courtesy Jonathan Warner, Robert’s son-in-law)

(Photo: Barry West)

The Preaching Pit with “John Wesley” standing on what is believed to be the preaching mound

Tregonning Hill is known for more than its Preaching Pit, it is where William Cookworthy, the Plymouth chemist, mixed china stone with kaolin, mined from the hill. It is said that it is not the best quality China Clay but its discovery signalled the beginning of a major Cornish industry.

Another famous monument on Tregonning Hill (Photo: Barry West)

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