The Exeter Research and Institutional Content archive (ERIC)
The University of Exeter
Authors David Harvey, Catherine Brace, Adrian R Bailey
"Parading the Cornish Subject:
Methodist Sunday School Parades and Tea Treats in West
Cornwall c. 1830-1930"
Sunday schools were initially held in chapels, but as their popularity increased, separate buildings were provided by Societies. However, the initial building of a chapel was often
prompted not by the need for a space in which to worship, but by the need to house
Sunday scholars and their teachers, as in the case of Morvah.
After a faltering start, a Sunday school was re-established in the small rural parish of
Morvah in 1835, with 100 children and 25 teachers Classes began at half past two in the afternoon and followed a curriculum of basic spelling, grammar and scripture reading.
At the first Sunday school tea treat after re-opening, an ambitious walk was organised
across bleak moorland. Starting off at the Chapel, the procession passed through a
landscape of dispersed mine workings and agricultural smallholdings threading its
way up the steep and thorn-clad slopes of the highest hill in the Penwith peninsula; the
Watch Croft. From the minutes of the Sunday school we read:
On Saturday June 25th 1836 The day appointed for the Tea Drinking
– the weather being fine the children walked two and two attended
by their teachers to the top of the watch (a hill so called) which
commands a fine prospect of the western part of Cornwall –
extending from the Lands end [sic.] to Redruth. The following hymn
was sung on the summits of the Hill, ‘I Sing the Almighty Power of
God which made the mountains rise’ and the 4th verse was
particularly striking from the elevated situation of the children and
teachers while engaged in singing it.
“Lord how thy wonders are display’d
Where’er I turn my eye
If I survey the ground I tread
Or gaze upon the sky."
At the close of the walk the children were treated to tea and cake and after the
children had gone home, the teachers sat down to have their tea and heard an address
on the subject of Sabbath schools.