Porthleven is a town, civil parish and fishing port near Helston in Cornwall. As the most southerly port in Great Britain, it was originally developed as a harbour of refuge, when this part of the Cornish coastline was infamous for wrecks in the days of sail. This profile of Porthleven Bible Christian Chapel has been compiled by Terry Moyle.
1830 first chapel. Enlarged 1840 – the new Sunday School was built on the site of the original chapel in 1879
1844 – a crippled girl, Florence Hosking, was healed of her infirmity; she believed that she could be cured and she was cured. Billy Bray preached in this chapel on many occasions and in the book “The King’s Son” by F.W. Bourne he quotes from Billy Bray’s first – hand account of the miraculous healing of Florence Hosking. She walked with the aid of a crutch and stick but after attending a class meeting at the chapel and prayers for healing, Florence was able to walk around the chapel unaided. “Florence Hosking is walking around the Bryanites Chapel without crutch or stick”.
Bible Christian Magazine 1863 – A neat and commodious chapel with side and end galleries and capable of holding about 500 people was opened for divine worship at Porthleven in the Breage Circuit on Friday April 3rd and Sunday April 5th1863. Mr. F. W. Bourne, Plymouth and Mr. W. Hawkes (Gwennap) conducted the services. The attendance throughout (with the exception of Sunday morning) was very satisfactory. To aid in the liquidation of the debt a few friends furnished provisions sufficient to tea about 300 persons from which a collection of £13-16s was taken. The services altogether produced the sum of £25-10s.
Peverell Road opened April 1863
First service Friday 3rd April 1863
Building cost £500
Always known as the Fisherman’s Chapel
1876 Chapel enlarged
Extension cost £330
May 1879 Sunday School built – the foundation stone was laid for the new Sunday School adjoining the chapel and occupying the site of the first chapel erected more than 50 years since. Mr. A. W. Young, M.P. favoured them with his presence and laid the first stone. Mr. W. J. Samble of Helston prepared the plans. The building is 42 ft long and 14ft wide with vestries on the north side. The walls are to be of local slate stone with a dressing of granite. The roof will be of slate with pitch pine wood for the interior. Porthleven tradesmen will be carrying out the work – Mr. E. Cardell, mason and Mr. James Rubbery, carpenter. The contract will cost £320 but the total cost is £400. The service was taken by Rev. E. Turner, Superintendent of the Breage Bible Christian Circuit. The old chapel, acting as a school room, was too dilapidated and therefore there was need for a new Sunday School building. Mr. Young placed a cheque for 19 guineas on the first stone. Mr. Bickford Smith and Mr. H. Rogers made speeches. Mr. Harry laid the second stone and placed 2 guineas on it, Miss Eddy, the third stone on behalf of the Young Women’s’ Class (£6-5s placed on it), Rev. E. Turner the fourth stone on behalf of Mr. W. Kitchen (away with the mackerel fleet) for the Young Men’s’ Class and £5-12s was placed on it. The service was followed by a tea and an evening service. The total proceeds for the day were £40. Mr. J. J. Rogers (Penrose Estate) granted a new lease of the site. The day was a success but the only drawback was that many fishermen were absent for the afternoon ceremony owing to a calm sea. (Extracts from the Cornishman)
Originally in Breage BC Circuit (1824-1835)
Baptismal register for Breage Circuit 1821-1937 – entries for Porthleven BC chapel
Later in Helston BC Circuit (1835-1907)
UMC Meneage Street Circuit (1907-1913)
UMC Helston-Porthleven Circuit 1913-1932)
April 1886 – BC chapel anniversary – Good Friday & Easter Sunday – Rev. John Martin ex – President of the Conference and governor of Shebbear College preached.
1886 – a great revival
March 1889 – Porthleven BC chapel has been closed for several weeks and thoroughly renovated. A new porch has been built with staircase access to the gallery. The old rostrum has been replaced with a new one of pitch pine and the ground floor seats have been replaced by new pitch pine sets. Behind the rostrum a new orchestra has been built of rising seats with the American organ at the upper base. The walls and ceiling have been stained and the gallery seats painted in imitation of pitch pine. The work was undertaken by James Julian of Truro. At the re-opening on Friday the Rev. Dr. Keen preached followed by luncheon in the school room. The afternoon service was led by Rev. Mr. Cox, minister at Helston, and followed by a public tea. In the evening a public meeting was held; the choir sang suitable anthems and the collections were in aid of the renovation fund. The renovation cost £260
1900 – alteration to the choir stalls for the installation of the new pipe organ. Costs- £322.
October 1901 – Harvest Festival – Rev. T. Squires preached. Public tea on Saturday afternoon followed by a service. Sale of produce on Monday – proceeds were a record high of £25-11s
1901 230 members
1901 500 scholars in SS
July 1907 – Re-opening services held on Sunday. Preacher Rev. F.J.H. Coles of Camborne. Collection for the renovation fund.
August 1907 – Rev. A. Hancock of Plymouth on Saturday evening gave a lecture on Billy Bray to a crowded audience
February 1908 – Mission services led by Rev. S. G. Jenkins of Plymouth. Lecture on the Welsh Revival on Saturday evening. Meetings held every evening during the week.
April 1913 – Jubilee Services. Good Friday service taken by Rev. G. Matthews (a former minister), public tea and anniversary service. Easter Sunday service taken by Rev. Matthews and attended by St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and Boy Scouts. Large congregation and accompanied by Porthleven Reed and Brass band.
1935 – electric lighting replaced oil lamps.
1935 – purchase of freehold from Mr. J. L. Rogers of the Penrose Estate.
Before the Sunday Schools united for the tea treat, Peverell Road held their St. Peterstide celebrations the day after Fore Street Wesleyan Chapel.
Choir sang Merritt’s Carols around Porthleven at Christmas time.
Capacity 1940 survey – 540
June 1948 – Porthleven’s oldest resident, Mr. Robert James Williams is 93; he lives with his daughter Mrs. P. Laity. He went to sea aged 8 and remained a fisherman until he was almost 80. He has four sons – 3 are in Australia. Another son, Mark Williams, was lost when the armed merchant cruiser Rawalpindi went down. He has been connected with Peverell Road chapel from boyhood. Mr. Williams has 13 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren
January 1949 – The Christmas effort raised over £124. A short programme was given by the young children of the Sunday School. The children presented their gifts followed by the opening of the letter box containing donations. There were stalls, a tea and a concert given by the children in the evening
April 1950 – The Good Friday afternoon service was conducted by Rev. E.H. Chaple of Marazion. There was a faith tea followed by a public meeting. Miss June Pascoe sang a solo
November 1950 – Porthleven Peverell Road Choir visited Meneage House in Helston and sang well known hymns to the residents. Mr. Pat Kitchen entertained on the accordion.
1952 – Harvest of the Sea service renewed
1959 – installation of oil – fired heating to replace the solid fuel system
April 1963 – Centenary Celebrations – Saturday public luncheon and Centenary Thanksgiving Service conducted by Rev. C. W. Jarvis, Superintendent minister. Speakers – Rev. Wilfred Wade (Chairman of the District), Rev. A. R. Stephens (Camborne), Rev. John Stocks (Hayle) and Rev. Gerald Williams. Service followed by high tea, a public meeting and items by the choir. The Sunday services were to be taken by Earl Alexander of Hillsborough but, owing to illness, he was unable to attend. There was a Civic Parade to the chapel; the morning service was taken by Mr. F. R. Mountford of Truro and the evening service by Mr. Peter Thomas of Leedstown. The choirmaster was Mr. C. C. Allen and the organist Mr. G. Richards.
1974 – Redecoration of the chapel
1986 – floor completely renewed – removal of old wooden floor and a new concrete floor put down.
Civic Services held at Peverell Road – 1945 Mrs. Susan Bawden Cowls (First female Mayor of Helston), 1950 Mr. W. Reed Johns (Mayor of Helston) and 1974 Mr. J. Renfree Bray (Chairman of Kerrier District Council)
List of Chapel activities/meetings in 125th Anniversary Book – Sunday School, Class and Prayer meetings, Young Ladies’ Guild (later Ladies’ fellowship), Ladies’ Sewing Class, Women’s’ Bright Hour, Searchers (for 5 – 9-year-olds), Senior Ladies’ Guild, Senior Guild, Youth Club, Young People’s Class and Wednesday Club (later ladies’ Circle).
Greetings in 125th Anniversary book 1988 (dates indicate when ministers at Peverell Road) from Pastor Bill Reed (Helston) who grew up in Peverell Road, Rev. Colin Allen former choir master and trustee, Rev. Tom Jenkinson (who preached at SS Anniversaries for over 30 years), Mrs. Enid Stocks (widow of Rev. John Stocks 1949-1954), Rev. Mark Alsop (Superintendent Porthleven Circuit 1963-1969), Rev. Trevor Smith (Superintendent Porthleven Circuit), Rev. Reginald A.W. Bailey Superintendent Minister Porthleven Circuit), Rev. Arthur R. Stephens (Camborne -former minister), Rev. T.W.M. Darlington (1954-1959), Rev. and Mrs. Gerald Williams (1959-1964), Rev. David Sexton (1964-1969), Rev. David Pudner (1969-1971), Rev. Gordon Elford (1971-1976), Rev. Keith Fantham (1976-1979), Rev. Timothy Demore (1979-1984) and Rev. Philip Atkinson (1984-1987)
Closed 1989 – membership at closure 108 and attendance at closure 150. Closed as result of Circuit Policy and state of the building.
Grade 2 listed building in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Porthleven Conservation Area
Interior 1970s (Terry Moyle)
February 2021 – plans submitted for conversion of building into a dwelling. Grade 2 listed
Photographs and map from planning application (Source Cornwall County Council)
The western front elevation of the chapel, with the central lean-to porch, surviving left pediment lobby, and partly demolished right lobby.
Ceiling Rose (one of two)
Source – Peverell Road Methodist Church, Porthleven “125 Years On! 1863-1988