Preaching Pits where places of outdoor worship in common use from the 18th century and throughout the Victorian period. Taking advantage of existing depressions in the ground caused by mining activity, they may still be found at Gwennap, Indian Queens, Whitemoor and St. Newlyn East.
Gwennap, the largest and best know pit, could hold many thousands of people and is famously associated with the Methodist preacher John Wesley. He visited it some 18 times during the last quater of the 18th century drawing large crowds when he did so. In 1773 he spoke to - "The largest assembly I ever preached to. Yet I found all could hear. Perhaps the first time a man of 70 has been heard by 30,000 people at once."
The construction of the pit took advantage of a depression caused by mining subsidence
Converted from an abandoned open cast mine it was opened in 1850 as the "India Queens United Wesleyan Sunday School Amphitheatre". The tiered seating and preaching platform were added in the early 1900s.
The pit at Whitemoor is a formed as a quarter, rather than the familiar full, circle. (The author has yet to determine if it was originally built this way.)
St. Newlyn East Preaching Pit was opened in 1852
This pit was originally an old stone quarry on the edge of the village. Following the East Wheal Rose mining disaster of 1846 it was converted to a Preaching Pit as a memorial to those who had perished. Still in community use it has been refurbised with the aid of Lottery grant money.
The Tea Hut, Built 1852 and . . .
. . . main steps leading into the pit.
A Tea Treat held in the pit in 1912