Mapping Methodism – Boswarthen Wesleyan Chapel

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Boswarthen is a hamlet between Madron and Morvah. On early maps this hamlet is variously named Buswarthen, Buswarton and Buswarthen. It is a very historic settlement with one of the farms having the date 1676 on a stone.  The main industry of the area was farming and mining as it is close to Greenburrow (Ding Dong) mine and many others. However, this Boswarthen must not be confused with the Boswarthen which is in the parish of Sancreed, not far away! The Madron Boswarthen is reached by the same turning off the B3312 road that leads to Madron Baptistry and Madron Wishing Well. The 1888 map below shows Boswarthen chapel in the top left corner. This profile of Boswarthen Wesleyan Chapel has been compiled by Val Thomas with images from Maddy and Stuart Nicholls of Boswarthen Farm and Peter Scrase.

1585: John Buswarthen was buried on 15th February.

1839: Boswarthen Chapel was opened by “that dignified preacher, the Rev. John Hall, who was a most beautiful expounder of sacred truths. That somewhat lessened the congregations at Madron. Still they were good.” This is from the “Cornishman” newspaper dated October 10th 1901 – Reminiscences of an old Madron boy.

1841: The census shows 10 houses with 72 people living in the hamlet. James Dale, wife and 2 children. Friggens, farmer +8. Andrews, 40, tin miner +10. (one being a lodger of 19) Pascoe, tin dresser +5.  Mann, agricultural labourer +4. Matthews, farmer +11. Edwards, farmer +5. Grenfell, carpenter   farmer +8. Matthews +2 and Nicholls +6, farmer with 7 in his house. Some of the houses appear to have more than one family living in them.

1842: The excerpt below which is taken from West Penwith resources contradicts the date of the founding of the chapel as stated in the article except above! It does, however, give the number of seats as 96.

1851: The steward was Jno. Jenkins.

1861: There are 16 homes in the wider area with 84 people living in them.

1867 Wednesday February 20th: On Monday evening the Wesleyan Chapel at Boswarthen was crammed to overflowing, it having been announced the previous evening that a tee-total meeting was to be held and that several friends of the cause from Penzance would be present to address the meeting. Twelve people joined the abstinence pledge at the close.

1873: The chapel had 73 seats.

1875: ‘…. a large number of persons were present, and a good collection was made at the close of the service in aid of Boswarthen Chapel. Mr Kneebone is to preach at the same place on Sunday afternoon next’. This article was in the Cornish Telegraph on Wednesday May 5th 1875.

1881: The census shows only farmers and their families living in the area, so mining must be ending.

1883: The Kelly’s Directory states that ‘There are 5 chapels for Wesleyans, situated at Church Town, Trenere Road, Tregavara, Boswarthen and Bosullow.

1888:  On Dec 20th The Cornish Telegraph reported that The Wesleyan Sunday School Union, at the Penzance circuit annual meeting …. “the union now comprises eleven schools, an increase of one during the year, a new school having been established at Boswarthen…”.

1889: From the following article it appears the chapel was renovated and reopened at this date.

(Cornish Telegraph Thursday 16th May 1889)

1892: A revival mission was held at Boswarthen when Miss Julia Ashford preached to a crowded audience in the Wesleyan Chapel. The collections, which were in advance of former years, were in aid of the Boswarthen trust funds.

1893: ‘Old Customs Survive’ from the newspaper: “On Sunday, being the first Sunday in May, the usual service was held at St Madron’s wishing well. The Wesleyans had one at Boswarthen; and at a quarter to three Mr Sholl, of Penzance, expounded from Genesis… A large number were present… “

1896: There is no mention of Boswarthen Chapel on the map issued at this date, the chapel in large letters is the Baptistry which is not the one in this article.

1901: ‘In Spite of Dr Borlase’, Chapter 10 has a section discussing the building of the new Wesleyan Chapel in Madron. It mentions selling the ruins of Boswarthen Chapel to fund the building of the new chapel. £15 was raised from the sale.

Late 1970s: These photographs of the ruins of the Chapel were taken by Mr Peter Scrase. At that time the building was derelict. Most of Boswarthen is now listed as Grade 2, but I am unsure if the ruined chapel was included in this listing. There was an original path leading up, beside the ruins, going from Boswarthen to the road leading to Morvah. The double door end faced this path which has now become impassable. Inside the ruins was an old Lister engine which was still in working order.

Images courtesy of: Peter Scrase

The Chapel has now been converted to become a garage for the house next to it. Images courtesy of Maddy Nicholls of Boswarthen Farm.


Texts used:

Madron’s story – Dundrow.

In Spite of Dr Borlase

Find My Past.

National maps of Scotland

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