Mapping Methodism – Portreath Wesleyan Chapel

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Portreath is a village and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall about three miles northwest of Redruth. The village extends along both sides of a stream valley and is centred on the harbour and beach. This profile of Portreath Wesleyan Chapel has been compiled by Jo Lewis and Tony Mansell with considerable input by David Thomas.


Circa 1820s/1830s Chapel

1827: Land purchased from Henry Trounce. for a Wesleyan Chapel which apparently stood some seventy yards to the west of the 1858 chapel. (David Thomas)

First Trustees: Robert Bennett, James Budge, Joseph Andrew, William Burrall, Thomas Hitchens and Francis Bottrall. (David Thomas)

1836: Portreath Wesleyan Chapel built. (SWChurches)

July-Oct 1836: Redruth Wesleyan Circuit preaching plan listing Portreath as one in the Circuit. (David Thomas of Kresen Kernow MRR/1472)

9 January 1839: Registered for religious worship with the Bishop of Exeter by an Assembly or Congregation of Protestants. (David Thomas)

1850s: The first chapel became too small. (David Thomas)


1858 Chapel

Portreath Wesleyan Chapel (Photo: courtesy David Thomas)

Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Refenestrated at the front end and refitted late C19. Local rubble with granite dressings. 2-window pedimented front has round date plaque and tall round-arched windows with Y tracery. Similar openings to 3-window side elevations have their original sash windows with spoked fanlight heads. House (“Trecarrel”) to right (east) of chapel may be the old manse. (Heritage Gateway)

Methodist church. Dated 1858 in pediment. Killas rubble lightly coated with scored render, with granite quoins and dressings, slate roof. Rectangular plan on north-south axis, 2×3 bays, gable to road, but with porches built as small wings to the rear end of each side. Single storey, in simple classical style; the 2-bay facade has 2 tall round-headed windows with quoined surrounds and raised keystones (altered glazing now making 2 lights with V-glazing bars in the heads), and the simple pediment with moulded surround on kneelers contains a moulded roundel with the raised date “1858”. The 3-bay side walls have tall round-headed sashed windows with radiating glazing bars and brick arched heads, and the small porches have their front walls carried up to make small pediments. Interior: rostrum at front end (to road); no gallery. Listing NGR: SW6596745284 (British Listed Buildings)

1857 – Aug-Dec: Plan, building ground, Portreath, Illogan. Shows premises east of the Wesleyan chapel, Portreath on the north side of the road to Redruth. Plots with names of takers. Drawn by William Bond. (Kresen Kernow TEM/1/231)

1858: New larger chapel, with a plain but imposing façade was constructed at a cost of £660. (David Thomas)

1858: Portreath Wesleyan Chapel built. (Heritage Gateway)

7th February 1864: First recorded baptism in the 1858 chapel’s surviving register was that of Charles Henry Richards, son of Alfred and Emma Maria Richards. (David Easton)

1870: Portreath Wesley Chapel School: “… the children and teachers of the Wesley Chapel School marched in procession through the town with flags, headed by the Roscroggan Brass Band. Afterwards the children were regaled with tea and cake in a field near the schoolroom. …” (4 August 1870 – West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser)

Portreath Wesleyan Chapel at a Harvest Festival in the early 1900s by an unknown photographer after the alterations and looking south towards the road. The un-named organist wearing glasses poses with his voluntary open on the music desk. The organ case of the one manual instrument appears to have some particularly ornate and colour stencilled pipework. (Photo and text: courtesy David Thomas)

1883: “A concert was given in the Portreath Wesleyan School-room on Wednesday evening, by some local choristers.” (Cornubian and Redruth Times – Friday 16 March 1883)

29 September 1895: The Basset estate granted a long lease of the property for 999 years at an annual rent of 19 shillings and 6 pence. (David Thomas)

1895: “Wanted. Organist for Portreath Wesleyan Chapel. Small salary. Apply C. H. Richard-, Portreath.” (Cornubian and Redruth Times – Friday 04 October 1895)

1901: Trust Renewed. (David Thomas)

1901: “Portreath Chapel, in the Redruth Circuit, is to undergo alteration at an outlay of £275. Sunday in all the Wesleyan chapels a general distribution of promise forms, envelopes, etc, in connection with the final appeal about be made on behalf of the Million Fund was made. Ne effort is being spared to make the great collection of the last Sunday in the year a success.” (Royal Cornwall Gazette – Thursday 12 December 1901)

1902: “Re-opening of Portreath Wesleyan Chapel: The Wesleyans at Portreath were very fortunate in having a bright sunny day for their services, and they must certainly have been greatly cheered by the large contingent of visitors from every part of the circuit. The renovations of the Chapel consist chiefly of a new rostrum, which has been placed in the eastern instead of the western end of the building, new seating, and an entire re-decoration. The pews are pitch pine, the rostrum pitch pine with panels and fittings of mahogany, and the choir stalls have frontal panels ornamental ironwork. The colour of the walls is of a soft shade of light sage green with frieze and dado of dark sage. The archway which was at the back the old rostrum is prettily picked out in green and gilt. The effect of the whole is exceedingly tasteful and reflects great credit the architect, Mr S. Hill. The chapel is lighted and heated by two rows of hanging lamps…” (Cornubian and Redruth Times – Friday 31 October 1902)

Early 1900s: The seating and pulpit were reversed to face south towards the road, at a cost of £293. The wisdom of altering the interior pew arrangements can be called into question as the two windows have obviously had blinds installed to cut out the light from the south during the day. The congregation viewing the preacher would have been affected by the glare. (David Thomas)

1904: Portreath Tea Treat (Photo: courtesy Paul Phillips)

1905: The chapel had 175 sittings, in addition to the choir pews. 115 seats at that time were rented out, with a seat rent income of £28. (David Thomas)

1906: “Portreath. A Branch the Wesley Guild, is to be formed Portreath Wesley chapel.” (Cornubian and Redruth Times – Saturday 13 October 1906)

Part of Redruth Wesleyan Circuit. (SWChurches)

1856-1928: Trust accounts, Portreath Wesleyan Chapel. (Kresen Kernow MRR/5023)

1921: Land at rear of Chapel purchased for the sum of £5 and a stable erected where the preacher’s horse could be placed as he led worship. This building later became a garage. (David Thomas)

1922: Trust Renewed. (David Thomas) 1937 and 1952.

1930: Chapel licensed for the solemnization of marriages and re-registered for public worship at the same time. (David Thomas)

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

1932: Became Portreath Central Methodist Church and later became known as Portreath Methodist Church, following the closure of the former United Methodist chapel in 1953. (SWChurches)

Part of Redruth Methodist Circuit. (SWChurches)

1937: Trust Renewed. (David Thomas) 1952.

1940: Seating for 194. (David Easton)

29 January 1945: The Trustees obtained the freehold of the premises for the sum of £24. 7 shillings and 6 pence. (David Thomas)

16 December 1948: Chapel placed on the Model Methodist Deed of 1932. (David Thomas)

1951: New heating system installed at a cost of £269. (David Thomas)

1952: Trust Renewed. (David Thomas)

1954: Seat rents at Portreath abolished. (David Thomas)

1954: Remaining congregation from the closed former Free Methodist Chapel at Primrose Terrace joined Portreath Central Methodist Church. (David Thomas)

1956: Chapel organ overhauled at a cost of £207. (David Thomas)

January 1959: Stained glass memorial window to Mrs Beatrice Roynon, for many years an active church member. The window plaque is with the chapel archives at Kresen Kernow, Redruth. (David Thomas)

1997: Closed. (David Easton)

1998/99: Chapel closed and sold. (David Thomas)

Used as community hall. (David Easton / David Thomas)

Portreath Wesleyan Chapel (Photo: Jo Lewis)










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