Penryn Primitive Methodist chapel

Jo Lewis - 2019
Penryn: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 308 3 2 6
transcribed by David Tonks 2021

The opening of Penryn Primitive Methodist chapel in the Falmouth circuit is described by Joseph Best, one of the preachers at its opening on 27th January 1861.  Penryn had had a longstanding, struggling Primitive Methodist society which met in a rented chapel. This is the chapel recorded in the return from Penryn Primitive Methodists to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship.

However, in 1860, following the initiative of Bro. R Killingrey, they bought and demolished a house at Fish Cross and in its place built a chapel.

The celebration services and associated tea meeting were held in the Independents’ chapel. Preachers in addition to Joseph Best included CT Harris (St Ives),  and Revs. J. W. Lawson (Independent) and W. D. Tyack (Wesleyan).

The new chapel cost £213 of which they had raised £100  Principal donors included J. Freeman, Esq., G. A. Jenkin, Esq., S.JGurney, Esq., M.P.; P. Sambell, Esq; J. Baring,Esq. M.P, Mrs. Mead, Mrs. Davies, S. Stephens, Esq. and T. Corfleld, Esq.

Possibly the most interesting part of the account is the description of the social make up of Penryn before and after the arrival of the Methodists.  “Penryn is a borough town in Cornwall, containing about 4,000 inhabitants. Before the Reform Bill was passed it returned two members to Parliament. The social and religious state of the town was very different then from what it is now. There were then, strictly speaking, but two classes, the rich and the poor. The honourable and useful middle class had then, comparatively, no existence in Penryn. Aristocratic elements and influences were powerfully predominant. Such a state of things, opposed at once to the religious interests and social progress of the people, now no longer obtains ; a numerous class of respectable shopkeepers, thriving traders, and rich merchants, has been raised up, and they are actively concerned for the sanitary, social, political, moral, and religious wellbeing of the town. The several churches of the place are most fraternal in their intercourse with each other.”

The chapel was built at the bottom of St. Thomas Street. Later it was acquired by Roman Catholics and damaged by bombing in 1941.


Primitive Methodist magazine May 1861 pages 302-303


Comments about this page

  • Hi all.
    further research is still on going but:
    The St Thomas Street Chapel, as in photo, is the (second) Primitive Methodist Chapel
    Marked on old maps this is now a residence

    From Higher Market Street, turn down St Thomas Street and the Chapel can be seen at the bottom of the hill
    This chapel is marked on early maps as a Primitive Methodist Chapel and was built in 1878, with 400 sittings.There is a certificate of registration for 1878.
    It became Thomas Street Methodist Church in 1932. At some point it may also have hosted the New Life Elim Church
    It was initially converted to a workshop and is now housing, called The Old Chapel.

    The first 1861 chapel was built up the top of the street at Fish Cross, opposite the cross, although exact location is not yet found. It is not clear (yet!) what happened to this chapel once the new one was built.

    It was the Church Institute on Quay street that was destroyed by bombing in 1941.

    I have not yet managed to work out exactly which building the Roman Catholics used.


    By Jo Lewis (07/05/2021)
  • I don’t think it was completely destroyed by bombing – or was rebuilt.

    This is likley the (second) Primitive Methodist chapel 1860 – 1931. Marked on old maps and also recorded on hand drawn map. This is now a residence (called The Old Chapel)

    The chapel built 1860 at the bottom of St. Thomas street. This building was acquired by Roman Catholitics and damaged by bombing in 1941.

    It Became Thomas Street Methodist Church in 1932. Part of Falmouth Methodist Circuit from 1932.

    This also possibly housed the Falmouth New Life Church at some point

    By Jo Lewis (20/06/2019)

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