Exciting plans are afoot for an empty cemetery chapel after a theatre company was given the go-ahead to take on the site for the next 30 years.

However the soon-to-be new leaseholders of Helston Cemetery Chapel, Trevow Helston, have moved to quell concerns of relatives of loved ones buried there by saying they will be fully consulted about any future productions.

Falmouth Packet: A lot of work is needed to get the chapel back up to scratchA lot of work is needed to get the chapel back up to scratch (Image: Trevow Helston)

Following Cornwall Council’s acceptance of the company’s application to take over the old chapel, the company has applied to Helston Town Council for a grant of £1,000, which it will be consider at its meeting on Thursday. If successful the money will be used to launch a community engagement programme this May.

Helston boy Guy Watson, artistic director of theatre company Cousin Jack’s, which set up the new company under its umbrella, says the chapel will become a new cultural space for the town.

“It will focus on creating and sharing artistic projects with often under-served communities, is a fantastic and rare opportunity for a town like Helston,” he said.

“Following consultation with the bereavement team panel and local residents with family members at rest in the cemetery we were thrilled to be offered the lease of the chapel at a peppercorn rent from Cornwall Council for the next ten years.

Falmouth Packet: The audience in the chapel for the production of Call Me OzThe audience in the chapel for the production of Call Me Oz (Image: Gordon Scammell)

“We are very aware of the importance and sensitive nature of the building and its surroundings for many, many people locally and we are committed to listening to and working alongside, people who have a connection to Helston Cemetery.

“If our grant application to Helston Town Council is successful we hope to launch a community engagement programme this May to 'throw open the doors of the chapel' and start talking to people about how they can get involved and what, together, we can make happen for the town.”

He said while nothing had been signed yet, the building is in a very poor state of repair and is deteriorating fast having been closed since 2018.

Falmouth Packet: The chapel had been unused since 2018The chapel had been unused since 2018 (Image: Trevow Helston)

“We are thrilled to be exploring ways of making this building open to the public and, once again, an important space for the people of Helston to come together,” he said.

In a preview of what’s to come, in early December a single pop-up event, Call Me Oz, was staged in the disused cemetery chapel on Meneage Road.


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This event, which sold-out, showcased the potential of Helston Cemetery Chapel as a welcoming space to share and develop creative arts and community engagement projects.

A portion of the applied for Helston Town Council grant will support the development and delivery of a launch project working with professional artists and members of the community to uncover stories of Victorian ‘Helstonians’ now buried in the cemetery; these previously untold stories will be performed to the wider community of Helston giving a glimpse into a bygone Helston.

Falmouth Packet: The chapel has broken and patched windows and damp and flaking plasterThe chapel has broken and patched windows and damp and flaking plaster (Image: Trevow Helston)

First steps for this entre project include: obtaining legal advice regarding the lease agreement with Cornwall Council (estimated cost of £400), support in establishing a new CIC to manage the building (estimated cost of £200), immediate general repairs (quoted cost of £5,000), essential roof repairs (quoted cost of £9,780), new flooring (quoted cost of £10,070), replacement windows and doors (quoted cost of £57,247), permeable grass re-enforcement covering for car park (quoted cost of £2,990), electrical upgrade (quoted cost of £3,024), intruder and fire alarm (quoted cost of £3,082), and community consultation launch event (estimated cost of £10,000).

Falmouth Packet: Damaged guttering on the side of the chapelDamaged guttering on the side of the chapel (Image: Trevose Helston)

When the building is in a usable condition it expects to attract around 4,000 audience members and participants from Helston and the surrounding area in the first year with this figure rising by a minimum of ten per cent annually for the first three years.

The company is also applying for grants from the Shared Prosperity Funds - Community Levelling Up Programme & Community Capacity Fund, The Architectural Heritage Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, FEAST (part of Creative Kernow) and Arts Council England.