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News Archive > Sport > The father of Methodism

The father of Methodism

By Warren Wilkins 10th March 2004

NEWQUAY WESLEY Church in East Street is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Methodism has a rich history in the area going back to when its founder John Wesley stayed at Cubert during his tour preaching around the country.

Although Wesley never came to Newquay there’s hardly a town or village in Cornwall without a Methodist Church, Chapel or School such was the impact of his message.

John Wesley visited Cornwall no less than 32 times.

During twelve of those visits he stayed at his friend Joseph Hosken’s farm ‘Carines’ in Cubert’ for rest and quiet.

He first came in 1751 and Hosken later built a wing for Wesley to the left of the farmhouse.

It contained a parlour below and a bedroom above.

It is recorded that he wrote and prayed below and slept above. From reading his journal it is clear that the village was close to his heart.

At Carines itself or in Cubert village, Wesley preached many times, and stealing along the country lanes from all directions the folk came out to hear him when the whispered word went around "Mr Wesley is preaching at Carines."

Joseph Hosken was responsible for the first Methodist Chapel in Cubert a ‘proprietary’ chapel and probably the oldest still standing in Cornwall.

Although there is no evidence that Wesley ever visited Crantock, services were held in Joseph Prater’s kitchen at Halwyn until the building of the chapel in 1827, which was in use until the present chapel was built in 1872.

The first Methodist preaching at Newquay was recorded by Richard Treffy in 1802, the Innkeeper Carter being the host.

In 1810 preacher William O’Bryan came to Newquay and formed the nucleus of the first Methodist Society.

The Society, later known as the Bible Christians or ‘Bryanites,’ built a Chapel in the Deer Park, now Sydney Road. When finished, the society was £20 in debt.

Billy Bray, the converted tin miner, preached in the Chapel.

The next Chapel was built in 1833 at the junction of Crantock Street and St Georges Road.

The stone for the building was brought from the Truro district.

It cost £170 to construct and in 1849 a gallery was added and also a bell in a belfry.

Members of the congregation could rent a pew for 9d a quarter or use a bench for nothing.

The Wesleyan Conference, which took place in the middle of the nineteenth century proved responsible for dividing the Newquay Methodists into two groups: The Wesley Methodists and the Reformist Methodists.

The more wealthy members of the Wesley Methodists ultimately decided to build their own Wesley Methodist Chapel in 1852 on Wesley Hill.

When builders were excavating the site they came across bricks 15 feet below the surface, built up like chimneys of buried houses – evidence perhaps, that a town existed there long ago.

The Reform Methodists continued to worship in the original old chapel, which the Congregationalists were eventually to take over when it became known as John Cotton’s Chapel.

By 1865 the Reform Methodists had again changed their name, this time to the United Methodist Free Church, and moved into their new Chapel, called the ‘Steps Chapel’ at the bottom of Marcus Hill.

When this became too small, the present day church, know as Claremont, was built in Beachfield Avenue.

By the end of the century the Chapel in Wesley Hill had become totally inadequate, and this together with the expansion of Newquay it was plain that new accommodation must be provided.

Congregations were by this time always large but in the season the church was clearly not adequate to meet the needs.

The town was extending eastward and this had to be considered as vital when a new site was acquired.

Events moved rapidly, the East Street site was purchased – room for a large new church, Sunday School and Manse.

The Rev William Hodson Smith was sent by the Wesleyan Conference as Superintendent Minister of the North Cornwall Mission Circuit to oversee the development.

It was a formidable task, but he was a born leader, a man of great resource, full of faith, and with the natural genius for raising funds.

He had held important appointments, and came to Cornwall from Scarborough where he had a very fine church.

Many years later he confided that when he and his wife viewed the Chapel in Wesley Hill on the first morning of their life in Newquay he had many misgivings.

But the text printed on the wall at the back of the Pulpit – "Rest in the Lord," came as a word from God.

He turned to Mrs Smith and said, "so that’s it, my dear" and from that instant, neither of them worried for another moment.

The work would go forward, there could be no turning back. It was God’s work.

Though at the inception of the scheme the local Methodists could see their way to promise only a few hundred pounds.

A meeting was held on November 13 1901, which provided an amazing step forward.

The proceedings began with a great tea in the Victoria Hall and at least 300 were present.

This was followed by a crowded meeting in the Chapel, the feeling was tense.

Hodson Smith spoke for over an hour examining the great project from every angle.

Many felt that the utmost limit of the scheme of the scheme, which could be faced was in the region of £6,500.

But the immediate proposals would mean raising in the region of £10,000.

Appeals for donations and promises had been issued, and when Mr Smith had ended his speech – these began to pour in.

The stewards were busy collecting the slips and the treasurer could hardly keep pace with the listing of promises, which were being given verbally from all parts of the chapel.

As the enthusiasm rose, a check up of the results was made - £2,010 had been promised.

Not only money donations were given as people gave their skills and time for free in the building of the church.

The willingness to give and eagerness to work impressed "outside" Methodism and a lot of help came from many sources

The sod cutting ceremony took place in November 1902. Mrs Geake of St Columb, who was one of the large subscribers, did the honours and was presented with a silver spade.

Over 70 more sods were cut mainly by local members of the Methodist Church.

The actual building of the church took up a considerable part of 1903-4.

The unusual design was the result of a competition won by Messrs Bell, Withers and Meredith of London.

By the terms of the competition the winning architect was expected to act as supervisor in the erection of the building. But it was James Vivian who was appointed as clerk of the works.

The day of the stone laying another thousand guineas was raised.

At last, after one or two changes of date, came the long anticipated opening day on Friday, July 8 1904 – when a further £800 was added to the building fund, which helped toward the eventual £12,000 cost of project.

The doors were opened in the afternoon and the two stain glassed windows in memory of Mr Hodson Smith’s parents were unveiled.

The dedication service followed and was conducted by the Rev Marshall Hartley – president of the Wesleyan Conference.

A public meeting of praise and thanksgiving followed in the church in the evening.

The chairman was Sir George Smith, one of the most noted Cornish laymen.

From that day on the new Newquay Church became a kind of recognised "cathedral’ of the mission.

Next week in the Newquay Voice we will be looking at the turbulent times of the church and its triumphs.

By Warren Wilkins 10th March 2004

Jace 23rd October 2011 12:59
Nothing I could say would give you undue ceirdt for this story.
Angela Carrington 25th December 2011 13:27
Joseph Hosken was my ancestor, he married Jean Gay in 1879, they had four sons, one of whom was John Hosken Captain, my great great grandfather. John´s son Frederick, had a daughter named Beatrice Charlotte who married my grandfather James Roscoe in 1904.
Sheila Williams 19th June 2015 13:31
A stranger to the area, I find I am about to preach at Cubert for the first time and so am looking for information on its history or background. This article is very interesting. Coincidentally, I have just read "Feet of Clay", the life and ministry of William O`Bryan, founder of the Bible Christians, written by the late Thomas Shaw and Colin C. Short.
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