St Austell Downs Primitive Methodist chapel

camp meetings on the wrestling downs

St Austell, Downs: return from the Primitive Methodist chapel to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship. Return no: 306 2 1 24
transcribed by David Tonks 2021

St Austell Downs is “a large and populous neighbourhood about three quarters of a mile east of St Austell”. They were known as the “Wrestling Downs” where the annual wrestling matches took place at the parish wakes – and evangelistic camp meetings held by the Primitive Methodists. St Austell Downs Primitive Methodist society and chapel dates back to the 1820s.

The return from the Primitive Methodist chapel at St Austell Downs to the 1851 Census of Places of Public Religious worship, completed by Thomas Green, the minister, of High Cross Street, St Austell, reports that the chapel was erected around 1825 and held 218 people.  On Census Sunday 90 attended in the morning with a Sunday school of 88 scholars, and in the evening 140 attended the service with a further 40 scholars.

In 1859 they opened a new, larger chapel. The foundation stone was laid in August 1858 by S Kernick and the opening services took place from March 27th 1859. Speakers at the ceremonies included Rev Collier (Wesleyan), CG Honor, Isaac White, Mr Prescot, Rev W Gilbert, Mr Bate and Mr Hodge. There were tea meetings at both the stone laying and the actual opening. Indeed, the day of the opening started with a very well attended 6:00am. prayer meeting.

The occasions are described by Isaac White in the Primitive Methodist magazine.

When I set up this page I asked where was the chapel and what happened to it? Thanks to Jo Lewis in the Comments below for adding some clarity.

Reference

Primitive Methodist magazine June 1859 page 369

 

Comments about this page

  • The Wrestling Downs chapel is shown on the St Austell tithe map (1842); the tithe apportionment lists its as ‘Methodists Chapel’. It was located on the north side of what is now Polkyth Road at SX 02592 52787, opposite an open area labelled ‘Wrestling Green’. A building with an apparently similar footprint was shown on the site on the Ordnance Survey 1st and 2nd edition 25in maps (c 1880 and 1907) but not labelled as a chapel. The revised 1:2500 edition of the mid 1930s suggests that the building was removed when the road layout was altered at what is now the Aldi crossroads. There is a record for the chapel on the Cornwall Historic Environment Record (MCO 34369) – accessed via the Cornwall Council website or at https://map.cornwall.gov.uk/website/ccmap/?zoomlevel=1&xcoord=162690&ycoord=64380&wsName=CIOS_historic_environment&layerName=

    By Graeme Kirkham (23/05/2021)
  • Thanks for the insight Sue. There is more about Richard Abey here.

    By Christopher Hill (16/06/2020)
  • My direct ancestor Richard Abey’s diary reads:-
    March 5th 1827 I started to open a chapel at Redruth and another at St. Austell.
    March 9th I was in a pit not 4 miles from Redruth in which Mr Wesley used to preach in – the Methodist preach in it once a year to this day. It is 100 yards round the top and 20 yards round at the bottom and 12 steps from top to bottom.
    March 10th I was on a mountain called Carn Brae where the druids once had a temple of worship and used to sacrifice their children and human victims to the sun and moon.
    March 18th and 19th Me and William Hewson opened Redruth chapel on the 18th – I preached in the morning and evening in the chapel and the afternoon in the open air. Mr Hewson preached in the afternoon.
    March 19th I preached in the afternoon and Mr Hewson in the afternoon. A large congregation and a good collection totaling £24.0.0 . And what is better still is that many people converted to God.
    March 25th Me and Mr Garner opened a chapel on St Austell Downs

    By Sue Stacey (15/06/2020)
  • I have been spending a little time trying to work out where the ‘wrestling downs’ PMC was that is described on the website and actually i think it might be this one the PMC on Clifden road. I can’t find any other PMC in the right area and the timings all work too

    My explanation is as follows.

    Clifden Road used to be called Union Road and this Chapel is clearly marked as a Primitive methodist chapel on old maps from 1881 – 1947.
    There is a small building at the back -it is not clear what this is.
    It may not be unreasonable to suggest this or the smaller building is the Primitive Methodist Chapel built on Wrestling Downs (possibly also known as St Austell Downs Chapel).
    St Austell Downs was “a large and populous neighbourhood about three quarters of a mile east of St Austell”. They were known as the “Wrestling Downs” where the annual wrestling matches took place at the parish wakes – and evangelistic camp meetings held by the Primitive Methodists. St Austell Downs Primitive Methodist society and chapel dates back to the 1820s, but in 1859 they opened a new, larger chapel. The foundation stone was laid in August 1858.
    http://www.myprimitivemethodists.org.uk/content/chapels/cornwall...

    ukwells.org/wells/wrestling-down-primitive-methodists

    It has been hard to locate the St Austell Downs chapel. Wrestling Downs absolutely existed as a registered location in Cornwall (also known as Wrestling)
    The St Austell genealogy site lists this as Wrestling (Wrestling Downs) 52/01 before 1828; 53/03 after (between Polkyth & Mt. Charles) bounded by Union Road (ref OS map 107)
    sites.rootsweb.com/~staustell/Word_Doc/Dir/Pl-s_z.htm

    Cornwall archived show account books and seat rent ledgers from 1842-1946 which also fits with the known closure of this chapel

    discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/N13742024

    Union Road Chapel closed in the 1940s (and presumably the congregation moved to the other two nearby methodist churches. In the 1970s the congregations of Bridge Street (see other) and Victoria Street (see other) churches amalgamated to become Mount Charles Methodist Church (See other)

    http://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/202503/52500/12/100115

    By Jo Lewis (17/08/2019)

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