This geographical and historical anomaly - which was formed by the falling of old mine workings - is less than a mile from Redruth Town Centre and marks the spot John Wesley termed “the most magnificent spectacle this side of heaven”. A tiered amphitheatre-like structure, Gwennap Pit now stands as a memorial to the Methodist movement across the UK in the 18th century, and is also in full use as a place of worship. The site is included in the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site and is regarded as a place of spiritual, historical, and global significance. Gwennap can hold a crowd as large as 1,500 around its 12 ‘rings’.
It is said that up to 2,000 people can be seated comfortably on the grass 'seating' around the sides and it is even claimed that in 1773 Wesley preached to his largest congregation ever, a staggering 32,000.
The first use of Gwennap Pit for preaching was September 6th 1762 and the occasion was marked by John Wesley himself, who wrote: 'The wind was so high that I could not stand at the usual place at [the village of] Gwennap; but a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many thousands of people. I stood on one side of this ampitheatre towards the top and with people beneath on all sides, I enlarged on those words in the gospel for the day Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see....hear the things that ye hear.'
After Wesley's death the Pit continued to be used for religious gatherings and the tradition continues to this day - in particular the annual gathering on Whitsun, but
also with services all through the summer months.
The 12 circular terraces that form the seats were cut by local miners between 1803 and 1806.
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