Wrestling Down - Primitive Methodists (1827)

From the following 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 Gamer, W. Driffield, Richard Abey, and .ohn Hewson.

Mr Hewson was the superintendent of the St Austell session 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 22nd, 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 cannot say. 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 society. Other lovers of the games were abashed and sought a more retired place on the opposite side of the 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 termed at Mevagissey, Lostwithiel, New Mills, St Blazey, Polgooth, Tregenessey, Biscovay, Mendew, Kessely 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. On January, 3rd, 1828, I opened Ladock; and formed a small society.

From, ‘The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion from its origin, by John Petty, 1860, p198-9.


Additional Information

Location unknown. Wrestling Down was a mile from St Austell in mid-nineteenth century.

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