William Haslam's Church - Baldhu (1848-1855)

His position there was dependant on the vicar who lived and worked in another parish thirty miles away and when he died Haslam had to move. He was sad to leave, partly because the climate had done wonders for his health but he did not have to worry because he was appointed by the Earl of Falmouth to a rather desolate parish called Baldhu which was only a few miles away. This parish also had 3,000 people and as there was no church he erected a building very quickly that held 300 people and he began work, mainly preaching on holy living rather than conversion. He also got married at this time to a Frances Taunton. He designed a church and parsonage which were opened in 1848 and he proceeded to minister to his flock in the best way he knew how, as a High Churchman, but he had little success.


He wanted to reach the hearts of his congregation, to do them real good but he did not know how. In all his teaching and ministrations there was a lot of form but no substance because he himself remained unsaved. Over the next few years the Lord worked on him; slowly waking him from his slumber. One day his gardener became converted, an event that deeply saddened Haslam as he thought he was deceived. He was called for several times by the gardener, who was badly sick, but he did not want to go. Eventually, he paid his servant a visit and began to tell him how deceived he was, but the gardener exclaimed ‘Oh, master! I am sure you do not know about this or you would have told me, I am praying for the Lord to show it to you. I mean to pray till I die and after that if I can, till you are converted.’


Haslam was very disappointed and discouraged as nobody seemed to listen to what he said; something was wrong. He visited his friend Robert Aitken, a remarkable man who was vicar of Pendeen in the far west of Cornwall. He told his friend about his gardener and his disappointment. ‘Well,’ he said, if I were taken ill I certainly would not send for you. I am sure you could not do any good for you are not converted yourself.’ They discussed for some time his spiritual state, particularly the difference between the natural conscience and the work of the Spirit. Haslam went to bed and stayed up reading a book that discussed precisely this issue. At breakfast the next morning they continued their discussion and he went home with his mind in torment. ‘I endured the greatest agony of mind for the souls I had misled, though I had done it ignorantly.’ He was in despair for three days and when Sunday arrived he wondered if he should take Aitken’s advice to close the church until he was converted. He decided to read the morning prayers and then dismiss the congregation. On reading the Gospel he decided to say a few words about the passage and as he spoke ‘I felt a wonderful light and joy coming into my soul. Whether it was something in my words, or my manner or my look, I know not; but all of a sudden a local preacher, who happened to be in the congregation, stood up and putting up his arms, shouted out in the Cornish manner, ‘The parson is converted, the parson is converted, Hallelujah!’ and in another moment his voice was lost in the shouts and praises of three or four hundred of the congregation.’ As the uproar subsided he found at least twenty people crying out for mercy, including three from his own house.


This happened in 1851 and for the next three years the church and area were in revival. Haslam had been determined to do everything in order with no shouting, crying etc but those thoughts went out of the window when he realised what Holy Spirit was doing in their midst. The church was full to bursting that evening as the word had got around that the ‘parson is converted’ and he preached the Gospel to mostly full houses for some time to come. The following morning a pastor visited who had heard that Haslam had been converted in his own sermon and he did his best to make him recant what he was saying even commenting that he could see madness in his eyes. Seeing that he was not making any headway the visitor ordered his horse and said ‘I cannot agree with you and will oppose you as hard as I can.’ Then mounting he started off but after a few steps he pulled up and turning around said, ‘Haslam, God stop the man who is wrong.’ Haslam said ‘Amen’ and the visitor rode off. On the following Friday the visitor broke a blood vessel in his throat or chest and did not preach again; only being able to speak in a whisper.


The revival went on apace with many coming into salvation; several examples can be read in ‘From Death into Life’.

Additional Information

The church was designed by Haslam and built in 1848

On visiting this church I sadly found it being converted into two houses. It had been closed since the sixties due to the decline in population. The foreman of the site was at the last service as a child and he assured me that everything was being done to keep all the features and they were even going to restore the famous pulpit and make it a feature in one of the houses.