Saturday, 8 September 2007
Cornwall is full of surprises of which this is one. Gwennap Pit is situated east of Redruth in the tiny village of Busveal near Carn Marth. This sacred space was made by early Methodists who adapted a landscape depression originally formed by mining subsidence to create a place for preaching and prayer. John Wesley is said to have preached here on 18 occasions between 1776 and 1789. The Methodist church takes great care of this site and operates a modest but very welcoming visitor centre attached to a small chapel. The curator told us that up to 6,000 (standing) can be accommodated in the space!
It is still used for services and is said to have excellent acoustic properties. There are photos in the Visitor Centre of rather more secular activities such as displays by the Devon & Cornwall Police Dog Handling Team not to mention picnics and even cream teas!
This tranquil place is reached by climbing a short flight of steps. The inverse conical structure is a reverse of our normal expectations and creates a space with minimal visual impact on its surroundings. The concentric terraces emphasise the structure, the scalloped steps are a neat and harmonious touch and the entire experience is a delight to the eye. The upright stones mark the position of the pulpit and provide a focal point.