St. Erth Parish Church
St Erth Parish is one of five encompassed within the Godrevy Team Ministry which was founded in 1996, the other four being Parishes of St Elwyn, Gwinear and Phillack with Gwithian, covering the town of Hayle and the surrounding area.
Nothing is known of the first Church of St Erth, or of others which may have succeeded it until the present Church was originally built in the 14th or 15th centuries. The present Nave has some early Perpendicular work, with the Chancel a little earlier in the Transitional period. The Tower, which is without buttresses, is 14th century. There are six bells, the tenor bell having been re-cast by Harvey & Co Ltd, Hayle, in January, 1901.The difficulty of dating the Church with accuracy arises from the extensive restoration and re-building carried out. Vicar Collins, in 1747, showing great zeal in his removals and repairs, and even more extensive re-building was instigated by Vicar Mills in 1873. How great this was can be judged by a Press report of the re-opening of the Church in 1874 stating: “The work taken in hand was so extensive a character that of the old building all that now remained are the tower and pillars, the latter having had to be extensively restored.
Altar, reredos and roof are all brightly decorated with painted carvings of many interesting subjects. The reredos, unusually, has the Adoration of the Magi as its central subject flanked by four Cornish Saints: Petroc, Erth, Piran and Conan. There was a tapestry incorporated in the wall decoration which has been returned to Trewinnard Manor from whence it came.The walls are built of polyphant stone, the old high pews, which were described as modern cattle pens, are succeeded by open benches of varnished pitch pine, the chancel roof has been beautifully decorated, and the chancel paved with encaustic tiles.
The old windows have been worked in with the exception of that of the East end, which is entirely new.” It may well be this account is a little exaggerated. It is recorded elsewhere that it had been decided to rebuild the east and south walls, and the other walls may have been less drastically dealt with.T he Chancel was extended a few feet eastward, and as well as the new window already mentioned, a new doorway was built in the porch using the same dark stone. The floor level was raised considerably, and the bases of the pillars are now mostly buried. Much of the old timbering can be seen in the roofs of the aisles,, some of it still with traces of the bright colours which covered the original beams.
It is unusual to have dormer windows in a church. St Erth has two, which were inserted early in the 20th century, each with a pair of angels carved at its corners.
For further details please contact the Godrevy Team.
St Erth Methodist Chapel
James Gilbart in his ‘Records of St Erth Methodism’ (1913) claimed that Methodism came with skilled artisans employed in the building of Battery Mill who came from the Midlands. Battery Mill was constructed in 1782 to roll copper using an ingenious system of water-powered rollers.
The earliest record of the St Erth Methodist Society is for Easter 1783. The Society Steward was John Thomson. In 1784 John Gilbart came over from Hayle Copperhouse to manage the Rolling Mills and some time after this became the leader of the society. The family settled at Battery Mill and were supporters of Methodism at St Erth through the Nineteenth Century. In 1796 the first Methodist chapel was built up at the cross where the post office is now. Before that a ‘hired’ room was used. This was used by the Wesleyans until 1827 after which it had various uses. By 1851 Independents and Bible Christians were using it for worship and it eventually became St Erth Bible Christian chapel, closing c. 1906. The Bible Christians were a Methodist group dating from 1815 and first appeared in St Erth in 1837. There were also Primitive Methodists, a group which was strong in the Midlands and the North of England; they were meeting for a time in St Erth about 1850.
The present chapel of 1827 was built as a result of increasing numbers following revivals. It was built with a gallery, a pulpit on a ‘pole’, a ‘leader’s seat’, a seat for the singers (instrumentalists who played for the church in the morning and chapel in the evening) and a pew for Captain Richard Hodge (a friend of Richard Trevithick). The chapel went through the usual pattern of alterations in the Nineteenth Century. Fifteen feet were added to the western end in 1859. In 1864 the organ arrived but did not take up its present position until 1872 and this involved the extending of the roof and a loss of floor space at the western end and the commandment tables were moved forward. In 1889 the rostrum was built. The gallery at the western end was lowered. In 1893 the ‘Higher Vestry’ was built to provide additional space for class meetings etc.
The final extensive alteration came in 1906 to plans by the Penzance architect Oliver Caldwell with the raising of the roof and new ‘Gothicised’ windows. The old porch remained. The boundary wall was added in 1909 with iron railings and gates from the Coalbrookdale Foundry. The gates were later replaced by the present ones made by Mr Lashbrook our long time blacksmith. In the chapel notice the monument to Francis Tuckfield (1808-1865) who was one of the few missionaries to venture out to the aborigine’s of Australia. He married Sarah Gilbart of Battery Mill. The Wesleyan School The schoolrooms at the western end were the buildings of the Wesleyan Day School of 1872. It closed in1922 when the new Council School took over education in St Erth.
Special thanks to Cedric Appleby for supplying the history of St Erth Methodist Chapel.
For further details please contact the Church.