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The Bible Christians in Penryn, and my family's involvement

Rev. Graham Warmington (Autumn 2001)

The story of the Bible Christian Movement can clearly be sectioned into three periods: the early years under the leadership of William O'Bryan; the middle years under the leadership of James Thorne and the latter years [from 1872 onward] under the leadership of F W Bourne.

In many ways the three time periods of the Movement can be identified by these overlapping phases: the charismatic phase, the consolidation phase and the conformist phase, which of course was followed by the amalgamation period after 1907 - although, as we shall see, there was a reaction to this amongst the Penryn folk.

Although there does not seem to be any evidence that speaking in tongues were manifested amongst their early members , the expression of their faith was similar to that of modern day Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. H Miles Brown, writing in the 1960s, described their worship as being “characterized by a mysticism almost Quaker-like, with emotional preaching and a Celtic reliance on signs and dreams”. As a body of believers, and because they had witnessed so much of the Lord’s power in their midst during their formative years, they sought to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and were therefore suspicious of the forms and ceremonies encountered in other churches . Because of this they often caused offence. When William Clowes, the co-founder of the Primitive Methodists was invited to preach at Twelveheads [Billy Bray’s hamlet] he was somewhat upset because during the meeting some of the Bryanites present began to laugh and dance during the worship, “I was grieved at their conduct for many people, who had come to hear preaching, were disappointed by witnessing their noise and actions…”.

These early Bryanites were also noisy in their enthusiastic singing in other places as well. At Michaelstow in 1818, a complaint was made that a villager could not sleep on Sunday mornings because the “b…grs were up chorusing at an early hour”. Although, according to Shaw, the Movement soon frowned on such behavior so that by 1841 at the Annual Conference there was a complaint made that some people were ‘in the habit of putting on their hats and talking in the chapel at the close of divine service instead of walking quietly and reverently out of the chapel’.

According to the “Rise and Progress of the Connexion” account in the “Arminian Magazine” issue of October 1825 , an unnamed preacher who had lost favour with the Wesleyans of west Cornwall went to Falmouth to establish a Bible Christian society in the town, but it seems that there was a problem within the group regarding “discontent and division”, and as a result of this, “their chapel was put for a play-house” . At “about the same time” however, so the article records “the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit on the people in some other parts of the circuit”. By ‘some other parts’, it principally meant Hick’s Mill in the parish of Gwennap. William O’Bryan and James Thorne themselves had officially opened the chapel here in August 1821 . This was mainly due to the zeal and enthusiasm of the local miller, ‘the jolly miller of Hicks Mill’, Thomas Tregaskis, who later attempted to rid Helston of its ‘Hobby Horse’ tradition as being a pagan celebration.

When Edmund Warne was travelling the circuit in February 1822, he wrote to William O’Bryan from Penryn, in which he ../php/shared “I am quite out of notes of admittance, and want some very much, - I suppose there are fifty to be given at one place [Hicks Mill] bless the Lord, twenty four are risen to one hundred and ten, in less than 3 months, and I believe fifty of them are soundly converted to God. “Bless the Lord, good is doing in some places in this circuit, and souls are flocking to the standard of the cross. Many labourers are rising up with a mighty cry, ‘O Lord revive thy work’. There is a great prospect of good in some parts. Glory to God. The last time I was at Hicks Mill, our evening meeting lasted until 6 o’clock next morning. Some were eight or nine hours on their knees; and I have heard that before the next Lord’s Day, there were thirty converted to God in that place””

When Thomas Tregaskis’ first wife, Betsy, died in December 1829, he wrote her obituary for the Bible Christian magazine, which leaves us with a wonderful insight into God’s dealing with His Bryanite people [both generally but also specifically in the Falmouth Circuit area] during the early charismatic period of the Movement’s history. Included in this testimony was the description of how she was ‘baptised with the Holy Spirit’. Apparently a brother [W.M.] had come to the house to pray for the family. After the departure of this said brother, Thomas and Betsy went upstairs “and while we were there, the Holy Ghost came down with such a powerful manner that it went through her heart, and was like fire in her bones. She was made so abundantly happy while under this powerful operation, that she appeared scarcely to know either how to restrain her feelings, or express her joy; after that baptism she enjoyed such sweet communion with the great head of the church, as language fails to describe.”

In a following, undated, letter Warne writes of other happenings within the area, including Penryn itself. Here he mentions some incidences concerning his place of lodgings; and as in the previous letter he was lodging at Penryn, he could therefore be referring specifically to testimonies of Penryn folk: “The best of all is that the Blessed Lord owns His own word, and sinners have felt His power. In the last three or four weeks, many have been deeply awakened, and many souls converted to God. Backsliders have been brought to their Father’s house, and to the enjoyment of His love; and believers appear to be stirred up to greater diligence. At Hicks Mill there is the deepest work I ever saw in this part of the country; much as it used to be in the higher parts of the connexion: they fall like people shot, and lay as dead for hours. Sinners tremble and saints shout aloud for joy. At Penryn, Wheal-Rose and Cross-Coomb there is a good work going forward, and in private houses also. One night at family prayer, in a house where I lodged, the power of the Lord came down: a young woman was taken in distress; she shook, shrieked, and cried as in the mouth of a lion; and when we rose from our knees she was covered with a cold sweat from head to foot. One day I called at another house, where the people were growing cold; two of them were brought into distress, and one made happy. I called at another house as I was going to my plan one evening, and a woman who had gone back about 12 months, was taken into distress, and in about half an hour the Lord sat her soul at liberty; she was made abundantly happy; a more evident conversion I hardly ever saw. Soon after, a young woman came in; after talking to her a little, she fled to doors: very soon after a woman came crying, ‘Come quickly sir, to the young woman’. I went in and found her fallen before the Lord in deep distress. Though at first she seemed to sink almost in dark despair, yet before we rose from our knees, the Lord set her at liberty, and filled her with peace and joy through believing. I trust we shall see better days in this circuit before long, bless the Lord; I trust He hath not done with ram’s horns yet. The Lord of Host will use whom He sees fit.”

Referring to a few years later, John Bassett, in his memoirs, wrote of his time in the area, “At the Conference 1825, I was appointed to the Falmouth Circuit. In that circuit I had great liberty through being the second preacher. The people in general were much alive to God, and I had sometimes an usual liberty in preaching, particularly at Hick’s Mill. That was a happy year to me. My soul was much united to the people as they were to me. The glory of God shone in a wonderful manner. O what glorious seasons has my soul enjoyed in that circuit”.

It therefore seems that a circuit for the Falmouth area was in existence from the early 1820s, with Hick’s Mill being the strongest chapel within the circuit, mainly thanks to the hard work and ministry of the ‘Jolly Miller’ ; but also that there was a Bible Christian society in Penryn from 1822-1824 onward. Apart from this article in the “Arminian Magazine”, the earliest reference to a Bible Christian presence in the town relates to an Indenture of 1829, and the recognition of a Bryanite place of worship in the Pigot’s Trade Directory of 1830.

The said Indenture of September 12th 1829 identifies the understanding that the first Bible Christian Chapel in Penryn was on Lower Street [then known as Fore Street] near the junction with Truro Lane. The agreement was between a Mr Francis Major of the Borough of Penryn and Mr Joel Morcom, a mine agent acting on behalf of the Bible Christians . We must assume that the Bible Christians built their Chapel there in 1829/1830 because [1] the Trade Directories from 1830 onward refer to a Bryanite or Bible Christian ‘Place of Worship’ in the town; [2] that when they moved into their new Chapel in 1866, reference is made to an older Chapel; and [3] the Tithe Map of February 1845 identifies a Chapel belonging to the “Wesleyan Methodist Society” on Fore Street. As on the same document a Wesleyan Society Chapel is also identified on Chapel Row, it seems that there is an error concerning the designation of the Fore Street Chapel.

At this stage in the history and development of the Bible Christian Society in Penryn, there does not seem to be any involvement by family members in the Church. At the same time, one must remember that the Society in the town was very small [membership being less than 40 persons]. Having said this, there is evidence that the King Nicholls had had Nonconformist links, as it appears that Richard and Grace King Nicholls had been married in a Nonconformist Chapel in 1803.

Due to the growth and expansion of the Movement in Cornwall, the Circuit System was changed several times during the course of the 19th century, sometime as part of Gwennap or Hicks Mill Circuit and at other times as part of Falmouth Circuit. The chart [over] seeks to show the development in terms of growth of the membership of the Penryn Chapel from 1840 onwards.

Growth there was within the Falmouth area, which included the two main chapels in Falmouth and Penryn, plus smaller chapels at Flushing, Mawnam and, later, Mylor. In 1834, the Falmouth Circuit was mentioned as being one of four that were specially favoured with revival influence and power at the time.

In the Indenture of 1848, as well as mentioning the acquisition of the piece of land at the back of Francis Major’s dwelling house off Fore Street, and the turn-over of responsibility concerning the mortgage that was taken out in 1837, the trustees for the Chapel were mentioned. They were William Corier of Penryn [cordwainer], William Rule of Mylor [yeoman], William Perkin Williams of Penryn [carpenter], James Davis of Penryn [ironmonger] and William Warne of St Austell [miller]. Accompanying this indenture was a document explaining the bond of Christian expression that held the Bible Christians together, and something of the responsibility of local Chapel Trustees. “Of the circuit in which each chapel is situated… to have and enjoy the said premises in order that they may therein preach and expound God’s Holy Word and perform all the acts of religious worship. The said trustees shall have full power to choose from among themselves a steward as Treasurer who shall receive all the seat rents and all sums might may be collected for the benefit of the said chapel…”

As previously mentioned, Great Grandfather Robert Treneer [who originally was a Teamster on the Carclew Estate and later farmed at Gonreeve near Treluswell in the St Gluvias’ Parish] became one of the trustees of the Chapel, as well as being a class leader and dedicated teetotaller. His son, John, told a wonderful story about his father, “My father was teamster for 25 years on Carclew Estate, except at seeding time and harvest. Then he sowed the grain by hand and carried the seed in, mowing with the help of 15 men. In those days they got no extra money for mowing, but there were 16 gallons of local brewed beer a day sent out, one gallon a day for each man. My father did not drink; the other 15 got the 16 gallons. The land steward was a Mr Sanders, a Scotsman. He said to my father one day: "Robert, why don’t you drink the beer, if you are punished for it I will take half your punishment.”

When the future leader of the Movement, F W Bourne visited the Fore Street Chapel accompanying Billy Bray in 1863, he mentioned that the meeting at which Billy had preached on the theme, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty”, “…was one of the best [meetings] that the writer ever attended”. Bourne also added that “New chapels ought at once to be built in Penryn [& Falmouth, where he also visited] in eligible situations, and much more attractive and commodious” . Billy Bray also officially visited the town in the year following the building of the new Chapel, when the District Meetings were held in the West Street premises. The proceedings began on the Monday evening [June 24th 1867], and on the following morning Billy began the day when he preached “a warm, unctuous and earnest discourse on Hebrews 6:12” at 5.00am. This was followed at six o’clock by the business meeting!

The Bible Christian Movement grew and expanded throughout the Duchy by means of the many localized “Revivals” of the 19th Century – Penryn being no exception. During this period, the “Bible Christian Magazine” reports on Penryn Revivals in the 1830s and 1850s [mentioned above], and also in the1860s, 1870s and again in the 1890s. Writing for the February 1866 edition, James Coles shares, “God is moving among us in some other places in the circuit. At Penryn a blessed revival is in progress. It commenced last Sunday week, Jan. 7th. During the preaching service a very gracious influence rested upon the congregation, and many tears were shed by saints and sinners. In the prayer meeting one cried for mercy, and after she left the chapel, before closing her eyes in sleep, she found peace. One man, among the many wrought upon, directly the service was closed, made his way home, retired to his bed-chamber, fell on his knees, and implored mercy from the hands of God. He sent for his pious father, who first went to the house, and then came for me. Before my arrival the man had obtained the forgiveness of his sins, was very happy in God, and doing his best to help his dear wife, who was earnestly crying to God for the salvation of her soul. Meetings were held every night last week, and not a night without a soul or souls crying for mercy. Many have been converted, men and women, young and old. One dear old man about 70 years of age is among the converts. I preached last night, Monday, Jan. 15th. A crowded congregation, and several in distress. Many at Penryn are working hard to get some living stones to go in the chapel by the time it is completed; this revival came most opportunely. Brethren, pray for us. ”

Similar scenes were experienced in the new Chapel at the end of 1871: “DEAR BR. BOURNE, You will, I am sure, be glad to know that there is a mighty work of God going on here (Penryn). It is not confined to the sanctuary, but extends to people's dwellings. Night and day there have been knockings at the door by those who have come to call assistance... I think I have never had a dull meeting here, on a Sabbath or week night… At length came a memorable Sabbath night (Nov. 12th.) on which a female stood up to speak from her full heart the words of life. The meltings and shakings grew. In the prayer meetings which followed sobs and cries of penitents were heard. One woman shrieked for mercy, another prayed for it, while many for the time resisted the Good Spirit sent to enlighten and lead to Calvary. Those we have named were all sooner or later enabled to rejoice in, God, and are now walking in the way to heaven. A week before Christmas a backslider was so powerfully arrested, that on the following Friday night he resolved to go to the class meeting. He was late, but waited at the door till those inside came out. He told the leader he had not been able to rest since Sunday, and that he had resolved, by the grace of God, to return from his wretched wanderings. On Christmas day, according to due announcement, Br. J. Johns preached Chapel Anniversary Sermons. It was a day long to be borne in mind. Congregations, sermons, collections - decidedly good. Best of all, three were led to seek pardon, two of whom were filled with the joys of realization.”

It must have been about this period that my family became involved in the Chapel. J Edward Warmington and Elizabeth King Nicholls [Great Grandparents] were married at St Gluvias Church in 1864, but by 1874 were members of the Bible Christian Chapel. Why they changed denomination… one wonders whether it was because they were influenced by the ‘Move of God’ amongst His Bryanite people in the town during the 1865 Revival, shortly after commencing married life together.

F W Bourne’s comments about Penryn and Falmouth needing new chapels both came to fruition within a few years: Falmouth at Berkeley Vale in 1868, and Penryn a couple of years earlier at West Street. The Memorial Stone for the West Street site was laid on Wednesday April 25th 1866 by the Mayor of the time, J B Read esq. in the presence of 1000 people. The celebration had begun with a procession from the Fore Street Chapel to the new site. After a short service and the stone laying, the crowd moved onto the Wesleyan Chapel where Mr W B Lark of Exeter gave the Address. Three hundred folk then moved on to the Mechanics Institute where they “sat down to an excellent tea”, and then back to the Wesleyan Chapel for another service; only to be followed by a lecture by Mr Lark at the Town Hall during the next evening. The Chapel was opened for worship on Sunday December 23rd of 1866, with the first services being conducted by James Thorne himself, both on the Sunday and for the two services [morning and evening] on Christmas Day – his sermons thought to be “highly appropriate and rich in evangelical truth” . Commenting on the new chapel, the same writer adds, “The chapel is in a good situation, and has a commanding appearance. It is 52 feet by 31 within, with side and end galleries, and will seat 500 persons. There are schoolrooms and vestries underneath. The entire cost will be about £1,000. By collections, bazaar, and donations, nearly £200 have been raised. This, we think, considering the monetary depression in these parts, is a noble effort. The old sanctuary, which we have just left, has been the birthplace of many souls; we pray that the glory of the latter house may in this respect exceed that of the former.”

Comment has been made of the pre-occupation of the Bible Christians with the Temperance Movement especially during the later years of their separate history. This was true of the Penryn Church as well. The Church in its new Chapel had a large Sunday School. When at Christmas 1876, F W Bourne returned to the town to preach at the Anniversary Services, it was recorded that the Sunday School had over 400 pupils. Five years previously the Church had created some unrest in the town because the Sunday School teachers wanted to form a separate Band of Hope at the Chapel. This was felt by Mr J Gill of the “Advertiser” and others to weaken “the present flourishing and unsectarian Society that met at the Temperance Hall” In the following edition, the teachers responded by stating that they were not acting in opposition, but where providing an alternative for those who were not currently belonging to the temperance Movement. By August of the same year, the Bible Christian “Band of Hope” began with 150 members. Later reports of the activities of this group include a Temperance Lecture delivered by the then Minister, Rev Mark Brokenshire at the Chapel on the theme, “Drinking usages, weighed and wanting”. According to Mr Gill, “there was a good attendance and the service was enlivened by the Chapel Choir”; and during the following month it was reported that that Mrs Alice Oppy was in the chair, the schoolroom was filled, and those taking part included Mrs Brokenshire, Miss Cullis, Miss Warmington and Miss Clemens.

Alongside this zeal for Temperance activities, the third phase of the Movement’s history was marked by a change of direction where evangelism was concerned. For whereas the earlier years focussed toward unchurched adults, this later period demonstrates a shift towards proselyting on the ‘inside’, aiming for conversion of children and family members. This was most certainly true where my family was concerned. Mention has already been made of Edward and Elizabeth Warmington – Edward who served as Circuit Steward for many years. Elizabeth’s brother, Edward King Nicholls was also an Elder of the Chapel, as was William James Francis [another Great Grandfather]. Other family names that appear in Circuit minutes, church reports, newspaper reports, etc. include the Treneers, Dawes, Clemens, Newcombes, etc. When in 1897, Edward Warmington was both Circuit Steward and Circuit representative at the District Meetings, the Circuit Quarterly meeting record that seven new names were being added to the list of Trustees for the Jewry’s Trust, of these three are family members: William Dawe, smith [related by marriage]; William Francis, stonemason [Great Grandfather] and Robert Treneer, market gardener [great, great uncle] . Throughout this period there was quite a lot of marrying between the Chapel families, with the evangelistic focus being made upon those family members. Many of the members of both the United Methodist Church [after 1907] and the Methodist Church [after 1932] were descendants of these Bible Christian families of the late 19th Century period.

The minutes of the quarterly Circuit meetings of 1881-1900 make interesting reading, especially as this was the time of my family’s greatest influence in the Church. As the minute book opens, Edward Warmington is the Penryn Circuit Steward, and of the seven elders on the board representing the Chapel, one is a great grandfather [Robert Treneer, senior] and two are great-great uncles [Edward King Nicholls and Robert Treneer, junior]. During the previous year, William Hill had reported that over a hundred folks had professed conversion at Penryn, resulting in an increase of nearly sixty new members for the chapel. In his annual report for the June 1882 meeting, Hill had ../php/shared that “We desire to record our gratitude to the Most High for the measure of success which has attended our united labours during the past year. Although we have not had an extensive revival, the gospel has been very expealedly, the power of God with Salvation; for scarcely a month has passed without conversions having been witnessed.” A year later, he added, “The effects of the converting power of the Holy Spirit has been witnessed at Penryn and Mylor especially – and we have admitted sixty-five persons on trial.”

A year later however, the effects of the blessing of a couple of years previously were beginning to wane. In his annual report, Hill’s successor, Rev Mark Brokenshire gives the possible reasons for this [although in the same report he mentions that the Penryn chapel itself remains healthy]: “We cannot refrain from expressing deep regret that certain means of grace are sadly neglected, or but ill-attended. The prayer meeting finds the support of but a few in comparison with our numbers, and it is to be feared that the Christian conscience needs considerable enlightening upon our obligations to receive the memorials of a Saviour’s dying love. How Christians can year after year coldly ignore the duty embodied in that express command ‘This do in remembrance of me’ is to us passing strange as it is painfully discouraging. Perhaps if we had greater faith in the regular ministry and services of the church and looked out for conversions every time the gospel was preached instead of relegating soul-saving to an order of workers that cannot claim any monopoly of Bible knowledge or religious fervour or godly consistency, and voting religious awakenings to dull December or chilly January months it might be more to our credit without any detriment to our success.”

According to the quarterly figures for the Penryn Chapel, as well as the Circuit as a whole, the number of members continued to fall from 1884 for the next decade. In fact in his annual report for 1894, the then Pastor [John Stephens] deeply regretted this continuing decrease in membership. Like Brokenshire before him, he also commented “the class meetings, prayer meetings, love feasts and the Lord’s Supper are not well attended. Only a very few special services had been held during the year.”

But later in the same year, revival fire came to Penryn once again. Back in 1867, writing for the Bible Christian magazine, F W Bourne had sought to address the question close to the heart of many Bible Christians, “What becomes of revivals?” In the article he attempted to get across to his readers that they must expect revivals to happen, and that when the gospel is being preached, that sinners will be converted. Bourne concluded the article, thus: “When the tide is rising, we must endeavour to pass over the bar and enter the harbour, or we may be again driven far away to sea; when the field is white, then must we gather the wheat into the barn; when the influence is rich and powerful, then should we expect the earth to be turned into a Paradise, and sinners to be transformed into saints.”

Over the winter months of 1894/95, the tide indeed was rising at Penryn: “Many hearts have been cheered, and many Christian workers encouraged in this neighbourhood of late. God has revealed himself very graciously and souls have been converted in great numbers. For some weeks increased power had attended the services. Often we were subdued as we felt that God was near, and now and again persons decided for Christ. But these proved to be but the beginning of brighter days, for one Sunday evening, after an ordinary preaching service, there was a complete breakdown, and thirteen young people were converted. As the news spread, much interest was awakened, and for six weeks large congregations gathered every night to hear the word of the Lord, and best of all, many began to serve Him. Over a hundred have professed conversion, and our Church is now rejoicing in renewed spiritual life and vigour.” The same report records the early death of one of these converts, and its effect upon the community: “One of the earliest converts, a young man nearly eighteen, has gone home already. He only lived to testify for Christ about a week and then entered upon his rest. He was a promising youth, and we would gladly have kept him to work with us; but though ‘We loved him well, Jesus loved him best’, and with this we are content. His death made a great impression upon nearly all in the town, and we expect that good resulted from this heavy blow to all, to some persons especially.”

In his following annual report, Stephens commented, “The year now closing has in some respects been the most prosperous in the history of the circuit. We have admitted 157 persons into Church fellowship and six have come to us from other churches”. He even made encouraging remarks about numbers attending evening services, prayer meetings and class meetings.

One of the reasons why these numbers were never maintained was because of the number of emigrations to America and other places. In William Hill’s report of 1882, he reported that although “sixty seven persons have been admitted on trial; but as we have lost fifty four by emigrations and removals, our numbers don’t differ much from those of last year”. During the couple of years from September 1881, eighteen members from the Penryn chapel are recorded as leaving the church due to ‘emigration’, many more would have been lost to the Chapel who were not members, or would have just been removed from the membership list. Amongst Edward and Elizabeth’s ten children who reached adulthood, the three eldest [Edward, Edith and William] all emigrated to America in the 1880s– Edith to Illinois with her husband, Hart Mellow and her brothers to Quincy, Massachusetts – while two of the younger brothers, Frederick and Harold followed them to Quincy in 1905 [although Harold later returned to the UK and settled in the Swansea area of South Wales, where his descendants still reside].

Problems within the granite industry of the Penryn area had begun to show during the 1870s. In 1876, the following article relating to possible strikes amongst the masons appeared in Mr Gill’s little newspaper: “We are sorry to hear rumours of a movement among the granite masons in this neighbourhood, which if we rightly understand it, threatens anything but good for the prosperity of the trade. Notwithstanding the calamity which is falling upon every branch of industry in the country, through the attempts of the men to overrule their employers, it would seem that there is a disposition on the part of some of the masons to destroy the confidence and harmony which have hitherto existed here. We trust wiser counsels will prevail; and that the movement will not succeed. It is not long since we heard that Concrete was being introduced, instead of granite, at Liverpool and Chatham, and this is sure to be the result of any such combination to coerce employers.” It is no wonder why so many young granite masons responded to such advertisements as that submitted by one of the local tradesmen at the time.

Edward Warmington died during the closing months of the Nineteenth Century – on the 20th October 1899. A grocer by trade, his home and shop was on the same street as the Chapel. He had collapsed on the Thursday afternoon with a brain hemorrhage and died the following day. The ‘Falmouth Packet’ reported that the “Deceased, who was fifty-six years of age, was very popular in the borough. He was a staunch supporter of the Bible Christians, being a Society Steward, and holding prominent positions in the Sunday School and Band of Hope.” At the Quarterly Circuit Meeting of December 14th it was agreed that the following resolution of sympathy should be sent to his family. "That this meeting desires to express its deep sympathy with Mrs Warmington and family in their great trial occurred by the death of our much esteemed Brother E Warmington and in doing so we would place on record our high appreciation of his moral character, the valuable service rendered to the circuit in filling the office of Steward for many years, and his unabated interest in all that pertains to the welfare of Christ's Kingdom. We pray that the Great Head of the Church may sustain the family while passing through these deep waters and eventually bring them to the shores on which the billows never break and the storms never come. "

Within the Pastor's report of June 1900, there is this comment, "Death has been busy in our midst and taken from our ranks amongst others, our much esteemed Brother E Warmington who for many years held the highest position in the Circuit, in the judgement of many, he could be but hardly spared, but we bow to the inevitable."

Around the time of Edward’s death, the Pastor [Rev Vincent H Culliford] reported that over sixty Penryn folk had professed to have found faith in Christ during 1899; and in his annual report of June 1900, he also confirmed that the gospel message that had stirred and motivated the Bible Christians at the beginning of the Movement was still the motivation for the Falmouth/Penryn Circuit at the beginning of the 20th Century: “We still believe in the Gospel of Christ, and to preach it is the joy of our life and while we rejoice in the manifestation of its power yet we are led to think, that had there been more private prayer, greater attendance on the means of grace and individual consecration the victories achieved would have been far greater and the souls saved more numerous, to us may the power come, on us may it fall.”

In 1907, the West Street chapel became a member congregation of the United Methodist Church, and in 1942 following the amalgamation of the U.M.C. with the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists a decade previously, the West Street congregation was officially united with that of the Wesleyan Chapel on the Terrace – with the larger church being used for Sunday services, and the old Bible Christian Chapel was being used for the Sunday School. Within a matter of months however, a section of the old West Street congregation broke away from the combined membership and started holding services at their old chapel. This move was thought to be “utterly irregular”, causing “much bitter feeling between the two societies” . After a couple of years of such bad feeling, it was agreed that the two churches should remain separate, which was the case until the 1970s.

By 1974, it seemed that the inevitable would happen. The minutes of the Annual General Meeting of that year recorded that “Each member agreed that they did not wish the Chapel to close because this was like home after so many years” . In 1979, the chapel was closed, sold and turned into flats – thus bringing to an end a separate Bible Christian witness in the town of one hundred and fifty years.

"Now the most remarkable effect of singing… is, the excitation and expression of the emotions: the emotions of joy, grief, gratitude, awe, love, etc. The air of the tune may be adapted to all the more prominent passions of the mind, and where that adaptation is striking, it does more than merely express the emotion – it awakens and deepens it. Thus a tune with a lively air would not only be in unison with a cheerful frame of mind; but such a disposition it would cherish. A solemn tune is calculated to produce or deepen a feeling of seriousness and awe. Now, singing is applicable to devotional purposes, chiefly from its influence on the emotions of the mind. Right feeling is the very essence of devotion… Singing is most naturally indicative of joy; and hence in divine worship it seems most naturally employed as an expression of praise and gratitude."

Bible Christian Church


Elders at the Quarterly Falmouth Circuit Meetings representing the Penryn Chapel [just 7 from 1886 onward] Also the two Circuit Stewards for the Circuit, bracketed, normally representing the Circuit at District Meetings. [Family members highlighted]

1881: Jn Datson; W Ould; Robert Trenear,sen.; D Ackerley; T Willows; T Vivivian; C Bennett; T Mitchell; W H Goodman, Edward King Nicholls, Robert Trenear, jun.; T Young; brother James of Enys. [Edward Warmington & C B Kelway].

1882: Jn Datson; W Ould; C Bennett; T Mitchell, W H Goodman; Edward King Nicholls; R Saunders; W James; T Young; J Tresidder; S Dowrick. [Kelway & Goodman] – also 1883

1886 Futon Cummings; William Job; Edward King Nicholls; Thomas Chegwidden; Robert Trenear; Thomas Mitchell; & James Opie. [Kelway & Edward Warmington]

1887 Futon Cummings; William Job; Edward King Nicholls; Thomas Chegwidden; Thomas Mitchell; James Opie; & John Vivian [H Hodge & Edward Warmington] – also 1888

1889 Alfred Prualuna; William Job; John Vivian; John Thomas; Thomas Mitchell; Joseph Warmington & Thomas Chegwidden [H Hodge & Edward Warmington]

1890 William Dawe; Alfred Penaluna; Robert Trenear, jun.; John Vivian; Ambrose Newcombe; Joseph Warmington; & William Francis. [Kelway & Edward Warmington]

1891 Thomas Chegwidden; William Dawe; Ambrose Newcombe; William Francis; Thomas Mitchell; John Vivian & Edward Warmington [also District rep.] [Kelway & May]

1892 William Job; Ambrose Newcombe; William Francis; H White; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & Edward Warmington.

1893 William Job; Ambrose Newcombe; William Francis; H White; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & J Hawker.

1894 William Job; Ambrose Newcombe; William Francis; H White; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & E Francis. [Tregunna & Edward Warmington]

1895 J Collins; J Hocker; William Francis; John Thomas; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & E Francis. [Bassant & Edward Warmington – also treasurer]

1896 H White; J Hawker; William Francis; William Pinch; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & G Francis.

1897 Joseph Warmington; J Hocken; William Francis; John Thomas; H White; Thomas Mitchell & E Francis.

1898 Joseph Warmington; J Hocker; William Francis; John Thomas; John Vivian; Thomas Mitchell & H White. [Broadway & Lang] [H Veale & Edward Warmington: March ‘99]

1899 Joseph Warmington; W A Young; William Francis; John Thomas; ? Thomas; Thomas Mitchell & William Pinch. [H Veale & Edward King Nicholls]

1900 only: J Collins; George Oppy; William Dawe; & John Thomas [H Veale & W B Williams]

Map of Penryn Chapels

© Copyright 2004. Graham Warmington. All rights reserved.