Mapping Methodism – Halsetown Ebeneezer Bible Christian Chapel

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Halsetown is a village near St Ives. This profile of Halsetown Ebeneezer Bible Christian Chapel has been compiled by Val Thomas of St Ives Old Cornwall Society.


Halsetown is named after James Halse who founded the village in the 1830’s to provide housing for his workers. Halse was a solicitor and tin mine owner who was also MP for St Ives. He designed the village so that each house had enough attached land to entitle the occupier to vote. As well as houses, the original village included an hotel, a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built in 1833 with a school attached, Bible Christian and Primitive Chapel/St Mary’s Mission Methodist Church. The church of St John’s in the Fields was erected in 1866 but is not in the village itself. The actor, Sir Henry Irving, then known by his birth name of John Henry Brodribb, born 1838, spent his childhood in the village with his aunt and Uncle, Sarah and Isaac Penberthy, who was a local mine Captain. The Penberthy family were devout Methodists who attended the Wesleyan Chapel and their children the school next to it.


1832 The chapel was founded with seats for 140. Martin Ustick was the steward.

Later closed for some years.

1851 The population was 1836 persons. Martin Ustick was the steward for the chapel.

(Martin Ustick, according to the census returns, was aged 45 in 1851 and a tin miner. His wife, Mary, was 40 and he had children of 10, 9, 7, 5, 2 and 1 month and a lodger aged 20 living in his house.

1858 The snippet above says this is the date of the Bible Christian chapel. Was there an earlier building?

1861 1,940 people lived in Halsetown.

1871 Martin Ustick is 77 and living in Halsetown. There are very few unoccupied properties.

1873 The National school for both sexes, was supported by Government grant and children’s pence. (Kelly’s directory 1873.) It was next to the Methodist Chapel by the entrance to Polmanter Campsite.

1873 The National school for both sexes, was supported by Government grant and children’s pence. (Kelly’s directory 1873.) It was next to the Methodist Chapel by the entrance to Polmanter Campsite.

1880 August 13th The Royal Cornwall Gazette had an article saying that the Bible Christian Chapel, Halsetown – Sunday School Anniversary had been held on Sunday last. The Rev James Hawkins (Primitive Methodist Minister) preached two capital sermons on behalf of the Sunday school. Collections were made in aid of the school funds. The annual tea treat will be held on Saturday.

1881 Martin Ustick and his family no longer live in the village and there are many unoccupied properties.

1891 The population was 1,200 persons.

1898 The above photo shows the Halsetown Hotel which was on the opposite corner. The water pump for the village was in the yard at the back of the hotel, which is now called the ‘Halsetown Inn’.

1902 The chapel was reopened according to Kelly’s Directory.


1908 The chapel is still recorded on the map published in 1908.

1911 The population was 2371 persons.

1921 The population was 2,398 persons.

This is the shop as it was in the mid 1900’s. It is now a home, but in the 1800s used to be the shop run by Sarah (nee Behenna) and Isaac Penberthy who were the aunt and uncle who brought up Sir Henry Irving, or John (Johnnie) Broadribb as he was called as a child. Isaac was the local Mine Captain who was well regarded locally. One of their lodgers was a local schoolteacher who later married the daughter of Sarah and Isaac. John Brodribb went to the dame school in the village run by Miss Elizabeth Penberthy who lived close by. He also went to the local Sunday-school at the Wesleyan Chapel. It is said that his first reading was made at the Bible Christian chapel next door to his home.

1991 The population was 190 persons.

2021 The chapel is now a store/garage with a corrugated tin roof. It is neatly walled in on 3 sides with small back and side areas which are enclosed. The front has a rough door on it but there is evidence of 4 large hooks to hang doors from on each side. There is no outside evidence of windows but it has been roughly plastered in patches and there is a lot of ivy. The far side is impossible to get to as the tall wall encloses it.


Images: Val Thomas March 2021

The entrance to the front is off the busy main road from Penzance to St Ives, just past a nasty bend. The walling around the chapel is in good condition and it is still enclosed on all three sides as shown on early maps. The area is covered in undergrowth.

The roof is just visible to the right of this photo


Resources: –

Find My Past newspaper and census returns

St Ives Retreats holiday lettings   West Penwith resources, Kelly’s Directory of Cornwall 1883 and 1893. Rick Parsons.   Kelly’s directory 1873 (Cornwall)

St Ives Town Plan – Halsetown

The Methodist magazine                                                                                                                   


I can find no records at Kresen Kernow for this chapel.


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