Primitive Methodist Movement

Mow Cop is very much associated with the Primitive Methodist movement; in fact it is Primitive Methodism that put Mow Cop on the map much more than The Castle or its centuries of industry. On the first page in a book published in 1939 called `MOW COP AND AFTER - the story of Primitive Methodism’ is a passage that states in a Wesleyan Chapel in London, Mow Cop Castle is a part of a stained glass window.

 "There is in the apse of Wesley's Chapel, London, a beautiful window that symbolises the origin, spirit and evangelistic purpose of the Primitive Methodists. The artistic treatment is both conventional and modern. The famous Mow Cop `Castle’ is outlined against the blue sky while Peter preaches with boldness in the open-air on the Day of Pentecost. On Peter’s left are one or two fellow-apostles, like John, and listeners from the four points of the compass, but on his right typical working people to whom the early Primitive Methodists proclaimed the Gospel in the market places an on the village greens of the country”

Hugh Bourne Click To Learn More

Hugh Bourne was born April 3, 1772, in Stoke-on-Trent; he was the son of Joseph and Ellen Bourne. He was apprenticed to his uncle as a wheelwright, and eventually pursued this trade being focusing on windmill and watermill wheels.  At the age of twenty seven, Bourne became a believer in Jesus Christ he subsequently joined the Methodist movement and began to pursue a career as a preacher.  His trade led him to Mow Cop, while working and living in the area Hugh Bourne described the people of Mow Cop and Harriseahead as a bunch of godless people, and stated that you could not walk the area without physical or verbal assault. Undaunted by the lack of Christianity in this neglected area, Bourne began to organise prayer meetings at a local house, he had no idea how popular these meeting would become and before long there was not enough room in thehouse. He promised the people that they would one day have a full day of prayer on Mow. After a visit from an American Evangelist Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834), Hugh became convicted that he should organise a camp meeting, and on the 31st May 1807, he put his knowledge and conviction into practice by organising the first English camp meeting at Mow Cop.

The day started cloudy and rained threatened to spoil the day, however it soon brightened and people had travelled from as far as Macclesfield and Warrington, it was not well organised. Pulpits were made from piles of rocks, and yet so many turned up. The first meeting lasted 14 hours and ended at 8:00pm. The day had been a success, and so began the organising of a second camp meeting. This took place some 3 months later on the Saturday August 22nd 1807, and was much better organised. This was to be a day and night affair and started at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and continued throughout the night. There were many, mainly from the Methodist church that tried in vain to get the camp meeting abolished. The Methodist authorities condemned the proceedings as "highly improper in England," and excluded Bourne from the circuit in 1808. Bourne and his followers organised under the name Camp Meeting Methodists.

William Clowes Click To Learn More

In 1811 Bourne was joined by another evangelist who had not been allowed to join the Methodist Church due to his support of camp meetings William Clowes (1780-1851). The Camp Meeting Methodists were joined by the Clowesites and became known as the Primitive Methodists. It is believed they agreed to this name to show they wished to get back to Wesley’s Primitive ways for street and field evangelism. It was this year that the first Primitive Methodist Church was built in Tunstall.

By 1820 the Primitive Methodist movement had 7,842 members and they held their first conference in Hull. Churches were established up and down the country; and overseas the movement continued to grow and grow.
In 1841 a chapel was built on Mow Cop this was a small building and was built on the sight of what is now the Coronation Fustian Mill.

As the need for a larger building became apparent they moved and built a larger church just across the road next to Pointons Farm where it all began; The Primitive Methodist Memorial Church. Work commenced in 1857 and the Church was opened in 1860. It then had to be re-built in 1882 due to storm damage.

In 1907 the Primitive Methodists celebrated their centenary with Camp Meetings up and down the country, it was however to be another spectacular day at Mow Cop with an estimated attendance of 100 000 people. The meeting started on the Saturday May25th and continued to Monday May 27th.  There were over 80 speakers invited, these would conduct their brief sermons at four different stands and in two tents. On the Sunday morning joint services were held in Tunstall and Crewe and a mass meeting on Mow Cop at 6:30am. Processions left Bradley Green, Tunstall, Kidsgrove and Congleton and made their way up the hill in four directions to Mow Cop. This meeting continued all through till Monday and finished with a public tea Meeting in Tunstall and Mass Meetings in Crewe, Bradley Green, Tunstall, Congleton and Mow Cop.

The Camp Meeting returned to Mow Cop in 1910 as part of the yearly conference with events and meeting held all up and down the country, it was well attended but not as large as the 1907 meeting.

The next large camp meeting recorded was the 150th anniversary where I believe the attendance to have been 5000, a some what smaller number than 50 years previous. It was just before this meeting the memorial stone was placed in front of the castle with the inscription

"TO THE GLORY OF GOD" Camp meeting near this spot on May 31st, 1807, began the Religious Revival led by Hugh Bourne and William Clowes known as Primitive Methodism."