ST. AUSTELL AREA
The PRIMITIVE METHODIST CONNEXION AT ST. AUSTELL
From the book “The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion” by John Petty, Richd. Davies, pub., London, 1860
[Note: the "shaking time" mentioned by Mr. Clowes probably meant he was overcome by the Holy Spirit, as were/are the Shakers, and other Pentecostal groups. The "Wrestling Grounds" mentioned were located just south of town, near Trewhiddle; the grounds were moved to a new location near Holmbush after the Primitive Methodists built their chapel.)
From the Journal of Mr. Clowes:
Sunday, October 9 th, 1825; I led a class at seven o’clock in the morning. In the afternoon, I preached in the open-air at Redruth; the congregation was large and well-behaved, and some of my hearers were convinced of their sinful nature and evil practices. In the evening, I held a service in the house of Mr. Jenkin. The next day, I spoke in a dwelling-house at Illogan-highway. I felt well while preaching; and in the prayer-meeting which followed, persons were in distress about their souls, but not many of them were converted.
“On Tuesday, 11 th, I preached at St. Day’s, and had a shaking time. The next night I exhorted at Redruth. On the following day, I went to St. Austell, a distance of twenty-two miles, in the neighbourhood of which Mr. Stephenson had a few members who had belonged to Mr. O’Brien. These people had two chapels, one at St. Austell, and the other at the Downs; one was built of mud, and the other of stone and mud. As the people wished to be placed under our wing, I stated the principles of our discipline, of which they approved.”
“On Sunday, October 16 th, I preached at St. Austell chapel, but had not much freedom of soul. Next, I preached in the Downs’ chapel, and had good liberty. I afterwards led a lovefeast at St. Austell, where the people spoke freely. On Monday evening, I spoke again, when the power of God flowed in an unbroken stream. On Tuesday I opened Hombush, where backsliders were very numerous.”
An account furnished by Mr. Joseph Grieves, one of the early missionaries in Cornwall; it appears that a great proportion of the members in Cornwall belonged to the St. Austell part of the Mission.
Mr. W. Clowes was the first Primitive Methodist Missionary to Cornwall. His labours were chiefly confined to Redruth and the vicinity; he paid a few visits to St. Austell and a few neighbouring places, but his head quarters were at Redruth where he laid the foundation of a revival which broke out just after he had left the country. He was succeeded by Messrs. John Garner, W. Driffield, Richard Abey, and John Hewson. Mr. Hewson was the superintendent of the St. Austell Mission; the other mentioned brethren were stationed at Redruth. In July 1827, I was sent by the Hull Circuit to labour with Mr. Hewson in the St. Austell mission, and the Lord prospered the work of our hands.
On Sunday evening, July 22 nd, whilst preaching in St. Austell chapel, the whole congregation seemed moved by the Holy Spirit; cries for mercy and shouts of glory drowned my voice; I stood upon the pulpit stairs and exhorted penitents to believe for present salvation. Numbers fell down in the pews; but how many were saved I do not know. The converting work went through the Mission, and we visited several new places with success.
On the “Wrestling Downs,” about a mile from St. Austell, we had a glorious work. This place derived its name from being the spot on which the annual wrestlings took place at the parish wakes. On a Sunday previous to one of those annual games, a camp-meeting was held on the Downs, when fervent prayer was offered to God to stay the prevalence of vice, and abolish the Sabbath-desecrating custom, and one of the umpires of the games was arrested by the awakening Spirit of God, abandoned his evil practices and became a member of [our] society. Other lovers of the game were abashed, and sought a more retired place on the opposite side of town, where they could carry on their sports without molestation. A chapel was erected on the “Wrestling downs” which has been the birth-place of many souls.
Sinners were saved and societies formed at Mevagissey, Lostwithial, New Mills, St. Blazey, Polgooth, Tregenessey, Biscovay, Mendew, Kessel, and Tregrehain Mills, at the last four mentioned places, chapels were erected. During the same year, 1827, I opened St. Stephens, St. Columb, St. Minver, and Sticker.”
“At the September Quarterly Meeting of 1828, [St. Austell mission] contained 457 members, and the Home Branch of Redruth Circuit then contained 282 members.” At the Conference of 1828, Redruth was a circuit, having twelve traveling preachers attached to it.
"The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion” by John Petty, Richd. Davies, pub., London, 1860
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