Background Information on Trinity Chapel


a)      Newlyn Trinity Chapel was built in 1832. It is a hip-roofed, galleried chapel and has seen a number of alterations and adaptations internally and externally to accommodate the changing needs and interests of the congregation. Lean-to vestries were a later addition, enclosing the space between the chapel and the upper adjacent dwelling.

b)     Important dates

1832          Chapel built (membership 46)

1854          Chapel seats 600, 270 in pews, 330 in free sittings. 500 attend principal services, average 200 on work days (Cox and Berry: p50). Membership 149

1865          Chapel enlarged, new moulded panels to front of gallery and pulpit “improved”.

1876          Organ installed with necessary alterations to gallery.

1893          Organ enlarged.

1896 /1897            Pulpit built into new rostrum.

c. 1899      “Singing Seat” (choir pews) enlarged (Cox and Berry: p39).

1905          Church membership 292

1912          Schoolroom built to accommodate 350 scholars.

1913          Gas lighting installed

1924          Decoration of gallery

1949          Whole chapel redecorated, replacing previous dark stained pews etc. and green of paintwork. Colour scheme selected by the “ladies of the church”.

1949          Communion rail plinth resited from behind to in front of the pulpit and some box pews removed.

1949-1950 Various “tablets” moved.

1950          Eight windows replaced following war damage.

1950s         Lighting replaced

1966          New memorial communion table presented to church.

1968          Curtaining provided to underside of pulpit

1970s         Ceiling roses fall and are not replaced when ceiling made good.

1974          Lighting renewed

1997          Quinquennial report declared chapel unsafe for use. Congregation moves all activities including worship to the schoolroom.

1997/9       Plan developed for horizontal division of chapel to provide worship / performance area above and meeting rooms below.

1999          Plans halted on upgrading of chapel’s listing from Grade II to Grade II*

1999-2000 Congregation consults widely with community and other interested parties and develop a plan for a much needed community facility for Newlyn. Consultation continues throughout the design and build stages.

2005-2006 Congregation moves out of its buildings relocating its activities to various sites in the village for the twelve months of building work on the redevelopment of the Sunday School.

2006          The Chapel featured in the BBC’s Restoration Village series, winning the South West heat and appearing in the final.

2006          The Centre opened.                

Survey January 2009

A survey of the chapel was carried out in January 2009 by David Scott, BSc Bldng Cons FRICS, of Scott & Co, Truro. Works recommended as required to the chapel including replacement of the inappropriate asbestos-slated roof (£250,000) are estimated at a total £661,250, exclusive of VAT. This will not increase the chapel’s “offer”, and further investment will be necessary to obtain a sustainable future for the chapel.

The importance of the chapel

The chapel, once arguably the more important of the two buildings on the site, now finds itself shabby, deteriorating and unused, the poor relation of the adjacent Centre, which is a modern and thriving facility. It is, however, according to its listing “a good example of a middle-sized classical design. The fine interior retains its box pews to both gallery and ground floor plus a rostrum which incorporates part of the original box pulpit, a very rare survival.”

“Despite its plain and simple exterior, internally the chapel contains many features of special architectural interest. These include a full horseshoe gallery supported on pillars, original box pews to be found in only nine other chapels throughout Cornwall, a late 18th century pulpit, the original organ, and decoration added during the Victorian era. The chapel is constructed of locally quarried granite, and it is believed that large boulders at the side of the building may have been dragged up from the beach and incorporated into the structure as a form of foundation. The chapel is probably the work of a local mason working to the specifications of the minister, as architects were few and far between in Cornwall at this time. Though local women would most likely have brought the cobbles used outside the chapel up from the beach in their skirts, this was a chapel designed for a middle class congregation – industrialists, teachers, fish merchants and the like.” (BBC Restoration Village)

The chapel has been described by English Heritage as “a shoebox exterior with a dolls house interior.”

The chapel, capable of seating over 600 people, is also Newlyn’s largest non-fishing related building and adjacent to The Centre constitutes part of an important section of Newlyn’s built environment on one of the village’s two main thoroughfares.

The chapel is currently on the English Heritage “Heritage At Risk” Register.

The EH “Heritage at Risk” website describes the chapel as “One of the best and most complete early C19 chapels in Cornwall.”

The chapel’s condition is determined by English Heritage as “Poor”, meaning “a building or structure with deteriorating masonry and/or a leaking roof and/or defective rainwater goods, usually accompanied by rot outbreaks within and general deterioration of most elements of the building fabric, including external joinery; or where there has been a fire or other disaster which has affected part of the building.” 

Francis Kelly, English heritage SW’s Inspector of Historic Buildings writes that English heritage is “anxious to work with the Methodist Church and with the local community to establish a sustainable use for this distinguished monument to Newlyn’s Methodism and for the benefit of the wider community” (February 2009).

Francis Kelly also writes that Trinity’s proposal to use the Chapel “as a history and resource centre to bank and tell the story and memories of all aspects of Newlyn – of which Methodism and its chapels form a significant element – is an appropriate and potentially sustainable one. In fact it would be a more positive and inclusive use than a monument” (May 2007).

A Place to Tell Newlyn's Story
Community Web Kit provided free by BT