Friends of Pendeen Church exists to support the church of St John the Baptist – Pendeen.
Pendeen Church is an attractively unembellished example of early Victorian architecture. Its history is unique. Under an Act of 1843 districts were separated from large parishes and were known as Peel Districts after Sir Robert Peel who promoted the Act. This was the beginning of the parish of Pendeen – originally known as North St Just. Separated from the old mother-parish of St Just-in-Penwith it comprised the ancient hamlets of Botallack, Carnyorth, Trewellard, Pendeen, Boscaswell, Calartha, Portherras and Bojewyan.
The need of a church and a parish priest was great and in 1849 the Rev. Robert Aitken was offered this new Peel district as his sphere of work by Bishop Philpotts of Exeter.
The First Church
One fine afternoon a number of miners were standing in what was then called the Town Plat (now known as The Square) when the new Vicar came up and spoke to them. “Come on” he said “get your picks and shovels. We are going to build a church.” The men were too astonished to do anything but obey, and the arrival of a cartload of timber (which Mr Aitken had previously ordered from Hayle) convinced them that the whole thing was not a joke. This first wooden church was only temporary and took three weeks to build. It was set up in the Square where the school playground now is and was used for more than two years – being opened for services on St John The Baptist’s Day June 24th 1849. The wood from it was later used again for the floor of the permanent church, which was opened in 1852, and dedicated by Bishop Philpotts in 1854.
Alan Rowell’s talk at the launch of the Friends of Pendeen Church.