History of Halsetown & The Old Chapel

Inspired by the fact that 2018 marks the 185th anniversary of the opening of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Halsetown we have been doing some more research into the history of the Chapel and Halsetown.

We recently visited the St Ives Archive in Carbis Bay looking for photographs of the Chapel in its original form, unfortunately we didn’t find any but did have a very interesting visit looking at the information about Halsetown in general. Photos are courtesy of The St Ives Archive.

Halsetown is named after James Halse who founded the village in the early 1830s to provide housing for his workers. This created one of the earliest planned settlements in England.

Halse was a solicitor and tin mine owner who was also the MP for St Ives. He designed the village so that each house had enough attached land (1/4 acre) to entitle the occupier to vote. The houses were laid out in a grid pattern and some of the original lanes between the houses can be seen by going down the track opposite the Chapel building.

The actor Sir Henry Irvine (then known by his birth name of John Brodribb) spent some of his childhood living in Halsetown with his aunt and uncle, Sarah and Isaac Penberthy. The Penberthy family were devout Methodists and John Brodribb attended school and Chapel in Halsetown between 1842 and 1849.

He later described that he “rambled much over the desolate hills, or down to the rocks and seashore”.















 The closest we found to a photo of the Chapel building is this picture of children on the steps of the school which used to adjoin the Chapel.



The first service in the Chapel was held on 3rd February 1833. The Wesleyan Methodist Magazine described that “seven hundred persons forced themselves into the new chapel” where they heard a sermon by Rev. J Davis from Camborne.

The Chapel cost £400 to build, of which James Halse contributed £50 and £150 was gained by fund raising. Payments for pews brought in £24 per year towards the ongoing debt repayments.

Under normal conditions the Chapel was able to seat approximately 310 people.

In addition to the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel there were also Bible Christian and Primitive Methodist Chapels in Halsetown.

The Methodist Chapel was converted into three houses in the late 1970s, becoming known as 1, 2 and 3 Polmanter Cottages. Number 3 was redeveloped in 2012 to create “The Old Chapel”. 



  This photo from the 1950s shows the inside of the chapel at Hellesveor rather than Halsetown, but it includes several Osbornes (Simon's grandfather, father, aunt & uncle) so it has been included.


When they were first built the cottages in Halsetown were relatively desirable dwellings, but over the years they suffered from a lack of repairs, and the St Ives Archive included newspaper reports from the 1950s of concerns about the poor state of housing in Halsetown.

This article from 1926 in the Old Cornwall Society Magazine describes earlier concerns about a lack of water supply, poor sanitation and rubbish heaps.


The article above is about the tradition of mock mayors and this photo from the 1950s shows the mock mayor and his team as well as some dilapidated buildings in the background.


The mock mayor used to form part of the Halsetown Carnival which took place on and off for many years, it used to include a fancy dress parade of floats driving around the village, as this photo from the 1980s shows. The carnival stopped for about 20 years from the 1990s onwards. In 2014 the Halsetown Village Fete was restarted but without the full carnival procession due to its likely impact on the holiday traffic.


The heart of many villages is the pub and we are pleased that The Halsetown Inn is still open serving great food and drink as well as taking an active part in village life.

This picture from around 1898 shows a military band outside the Halsetown Hotel as it was then called.


A later picture shows the local hunt meeting outside the Halsetown Inn.


This photo shows the building (opposite the pub) that at the time of the photo was the village shop. It had previously been the mine captain's house and home to Sarah & Isaac Penberthy where John Brodribb (later Sir Henry Irving) stayed as a boy.


The children of today have lots to entertain them but in the past this large boulder, known as the “sliding stone” acted as the local playground and the village children enjoyed climbing up it and sliding down the smooth section.


Hopefully this snippet of local history will be of interest to visitors to the village and add a new perspective to walking or driving around the area.




Comment by vivian Stratton

My father is in the black and white photo of the carnival taken in the 1950's he was the first mayoress of Halestown.

vivian Stratton
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