Mapping Methodism – Helston United Methodist Chapel (Church St Chapel)

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Helston is a town and civil parish situated at the northern end of the Lizard Peninsula approximately 12 miles east of Penzance and 9 miles south-west of Falmouth. Helston is the most southerly town on the island of Great Britain, about 1.5 miles farther south than Penzance. This profile oh Helston United Methodist Church was compiled by Terry Moyle.


“Little Ship”

Built 1838

Built on the site of an old brewery

Located on corner of Church Street and Penrose Road

Site purchased by Wesleyan Methodist Association (1857 became United Methodist Free Church) – purchase led by William Odger and Thomas Treloar

Caretaker lived in the basement (later converted into a schoolroom)

Helston WMA Plan for Helston Circuit 1846-1847 – two Sunday services and Thursday weeknight service (both William Odger and Thomas Treloar on the plan)

Capacity 500 (1940 Survey)

Chapel reached from Penrose Road by a granite bridge.

Entered into a small vestibule with stairs on both sides leading to the gallery

Sunday School – on side of the main building in Penrose Road – Primary Department

Senior Sunday School department – underneath the chapel at road level with the windows facing Church Street.

March 1861 – free sittings have been added to Helston UM chapel for the poorer hearers who attend. Two new galleries have been erected for that purpose at a cost of £100.

May 1875 – the collection box has been stolen from Helston UM chapel

June 1876 – Helston UM chapel to be enlarged and much improved. Plans drawn up by Mr.

Hicks of Redruth, contractors Messrs. Broad (Porthleven), Gard (Breage) and Philp (Truro). Cost £700. Mr. Penrose of Helston is the treasurer of the Improvement Fund.

Dec 1876 – Helston UM chapel which has been enlarged and made to look pretty is to be opened on 7th January

1877 – United Methodist Magazine – alterations to the chapel – building widened, gallery re-arranged, high pulpit replaced by a rostrum, pews made more convenient and comfortable by being spaced wider. Re-opening services on 7 January led by Rev. E. Gray of Heywood (morning and evening) and by Wesleyan Minister, Rev. I. Iredale, in the afternoon. The collection amounted to £35-6s-6d. At the Monday evening service the Rev. Gray gave a lecture on “Aims in Life”. On Tuesday there was an afternoon service, followed by tea and an evening meeting. The choir sang well.

January 1878 – The children of Helston UM Sunday School numbering about 250 were rewarded with suitable books and motto cards. At the weekly meeting of the Mutual Improvement Class an interesting talk with illustrations on “The Botany of Scripture” was given by Mr. James Cunnack

1881 United Methodist Magazine – First ever bazaar organised by Church Street Chapel – held in the Corn Market on 12th October; there was an excellent range of farm produce including livestock (4 pigs, 1 turkey, ducks and fowls). £50 was raised by the sale of livestock and the total effort raised over £200.

January 1885 – a free tea was provided in the schoolroom with the aim to bring together all members of the congregation into a more intimate acquaintance with each other. The collection was for distribution to the poor. The tea was followed by an evening meeting.

February 1887 – Helston United Methodists are collecting for a new organ at a cost of £300. £100 had been promised but a gentleman, at present out of the county, announced through the treasurer of the organ fund that he will defray the cost of the organ and the necessary alterations to the building.

October 1887 – at Helston UM Chapel on Sunday the new organ was presided over by Mr. H. T. Moore of Redruth who, we hear, has been offered the post of organist. He, however, declined.

February 1891 – with the death of Mr. Thomas Gill, Helston UM chapel has lost its oldest member

October 1891 – Mr. G. Groves of Torquay has been appointed organist and choirmaster at Helston UM Chapel

Choir – strong choir, regularly sang anthems and oratorios such as Handel’s Messiah. Members included Mrs. Trengrouse, Miss Emmie Lugg, Misses Opie, Mildred and Annie Bray, Miss Emma Jenkin, Miss Olive Chenoweth, Phyllis and Ivey Walters, Misses Perry and Mrs. A. S. Oates. The men included William John Winn, Alfred Oates, Stanley Oates, John Jenkin, Denis Bray, Leonard Pascoe, Pearce Gilbert, R. J. Holden (Science teacher at the Grammar School) and Stanley Dransfield (Headmaster at Helston Grammar School). Mr. Dransfield was the choirmaster.

September 1896 – Helston UM Choir gave a concert at Aston Free Methodist Chapel. At their Harvest Festival services the choir gave a new cantata “Harvest Tide” with Miss B. Hammill at the organ

November 1907 – Helston UM choir gave a concert in Troon UM chapel. Soloists were Mr. Rowe, Mr. Howlett, Miss Benney, Mr. Oates and Mrs. Oates. Mr. W. Howlett was the organist and choirmaster.

Organists at Church Street included Mr. W. Howlett, Mr. J. H. Williams, Mr. Ernest James, Mrs. Dransfield and Dr. and Mrs. Curzon-Miller (1964)

Church Street and Helston Civic Life – many of the town’s businessmen attended Church Street and several of its members became Mayor. The list includes the Beringer family (jewellers in Meneage Street – George Beringer mayor 1900-1901 and 1908), Alfred Randle Thomas (senior partner in firm of solicitors and Mayor 1902-1903 and 1907), Henry Toy (mayor several times between 1912 and 1933), Francis Henry Cunnack (mayor 1910-1911), Arthur and Mrs. Lee, Alfred Oates, Edward Cunnack, Spencer Toy and Dr. Francis Carter Toy

Sunday School – teachers included Frank Cunnack, Kitt Rowse, Mr. Coutier, Philip Charles and Edward Cunnack. At anniversary services children trained by Mr. Stanley Dransfield with Mrs. Dransfield playing the organ.

Annual Sunday School outing to Carbis Bay – joined with Helston Wesleyan SS, met at station and used a chartered train going directly from Helston to Carbis Bay without changing at Gwinear Road and St. Erth.

Sunday School met half an hour before the morning service and then in the afternoon.

December 1906 – the Choir sang “The Holy City” with Miss Maria Yelland of London singing the contralto solos. She has recently sung at the Albert Hall in “Elijah”. Cornish folk have every reason to be proud that the Delectable Duchy has given so renowned and gifted a singer to the musical world. The organist was Mr. W. Howlett.

August 1912 – the choir had their annual outing; they went to Falmouth by Jersey car and then enjoyed a steamer trip followed by tea in Gyllyndune Gardens

September 1912 – the pulpit was draped in black on Sunday in memory of the Rev. W. Bailey who had died in Manchester aged 49. He had been the minister in Helston and Chaplain to the Mayor (1910-1912) where he had been held in high esteem.

November 1912 – the pulpit on Sunday evening was occupied by the Mayor of Helston, Mr. Henry Toy. At the civic service the collection was taken in aid of Truro Infirmary and Helston Nursing Association

December 1913 – there was a large congregation for the visit of the President of the Conference Rev. W. Redfern. The choir sang an anthem with Mrs. C. Rowe the soloist

Member William Kemp Bray killed in action on the Somme in September 1918

February 1921– Helston UM Sunday School was re-opened by Mrs George Thomas after being renovated. A concert was given by the children and refreshments served.

September 1921 – Helston UM chapel has lost one of its most loyal workers by the death of Mrs. Oliver aged 72. She was the widow of the late Mr. Thomas Oliver who had been a local preacher for 58 years. Two of her sons are local preachers and the other son is the minister at Okehampton UMC.

January 1926 – the death has occurred of Mr. George Beringer of Meneage Street – Alderman, Mayor, J.P., local preacher and an active Liberal. He had a long association with Church Street and was a choir member.

December 1930 – marriage at Marazion Wesleyan chapel of Miss Nellie Harris of Marazion and Mr. Ernest James of Meneage Street, Helston. The bridegroom has been organist at Helston UM chapel for 7 years

December 1931 – Choir Festival services were taken by Rev. F. J. H. Coles. The choir sang Maunder’s “Bethlehem” and on the Monday evening an augmented choir sang Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus”

Chapel activities included – annual missionary weekends, Men’s and Women’s Class meetings, Guild, Young People’s Guild, Improvement Class, Band of Hope, Drama Group, tennis club and rambling club. The Guild members attended rallies and went on outings and the tennis club played matches against other local teams.

Helston UM chapel had strong links with Meneage Street BC chapel (rather than with Helston Wesley) and with Vivian House Children’s Home in Meneage Road.

Some families even split up to go to chapel – Reg Jenkins recalled that his grandfather and uncle Fred and aunt Annie attended Helston Wesley while his uncle Ernie, mother and the rest of his family attended Church Street.

Local preachers’ convention outside Helston UM chapel – Date unknown (Photo: William Frederick IVEY 1903-2000)

March 1951 – death of Mr. Francis (Frank) Joseph Lugg aged 87 of Meneage Street, coachbuilder and wheelwright. He had a long association with Church Street of over 60 years and had been a local preacher since 1885. He was also a choir member.

Deterioration of the building – February 1968 – a new build was declined as there would be two chapels close to each other.

October 1968 – vote to demolish the building

West Briton 21 November 1968 – Helston’s Church Street has just been closed and some members have joined Wesley. The chapel was built on the site of a brewery in 1838 and attracted many of the town’s leading public figures – mayors, councillors and magistrates came from its congregation. The building had deteriorated and is unsafe.

Membership at closure – 64

Just prior to closure from Helston History (Photo: William Frederick IVEY 1903-2000)

Demolition in progress in May 1969 (Photo: William Frederick IVEY 1903-2000)

May 1969: The view from Penrose Road (Photo: William Frederick IVEY 1903-2000)

Building demolished – site now a private car park

Much of the granite was removed to Kynance Cove where it was used until recent times as steps from the car park on the cliff to the cove below.

Source of much information





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