the local history of Stoke-on-Trent, England

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Focus on - the birth of Primitive Methodism


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Hugh Bourne
- the unintentional founder of the Primitive Methodist movement -


Around the same time as the rise of the Methodist New Connexion (of which the Bethesda Chapel in Hanley was the Conference Church), another wave of revival swept into the new towns of the Potteries.

Its leading figures were Hugh Bourne and William Clowes.

Hugh Bourne, was born at Ford Hayes Farm, Bucknall, on April 3, 1772. He was a shy man who, until his conversion in 1799, lived with an intense fear of falling into hell.


The birthplace of Hugh Bourne - Ford Hayes Farmhouse
The birthplace of Hugh Bourne - Ford Hayes Farmhouse
Virtual Earth   2008

Hugh Bourne, the founder of the Primitive Methodist movement was born in this house on April 3rd 1772 and lived here until 1788. Even in 2008 the remoteness of this farmhouse is still apparent. 

 

Ford Hayes Farmhouse, Bentilee
Ford Hayes Farmhouse, Bentilee

photo:  Mr Clive Shenton - Sept 2002


By the year 1800, he had moved to live in Harriseahead, a village to the north of the present city.

Towering above Bourne's new home was Mow Cop, a "bald hill" rising to 1,091 feet above sea level, with commanding views over Staffordshire and the Cheshire plain.

Barn & Stable Range at Bemersley Farm
Barn & Stable Range at Bemersley Farm

photo:  Mr Clive Shenton - May 2006

Bourne was shocked at the moral state of his new neighbourhood, saying, "There was not in England a neighbourhood that was more ungodly and profane. A stranger could hardly go over Harriseahead without insult and sometimes not without injury."

Against this background, Bourne met for prayer and Bible study with other Methodists, and flames of revival broke out in 1801, spreading quickly through the northern towns of the Potteries and beyond.


 


Pointon's house and farm, Primitive Street, Mow Cop c. 1900-1910
Pointon's house and farm, Primitive Street, Mow Cop c. 1900-1910

Pointon's house was the first place used by the Methodists in Mow Cop. Preachers used to come to the house fortnightly to take services, but they sometimes failed to arrive. This happened on the 12th July 1801, when Hugh Bourne was persuaded to preach. The house filled with people and, as it was a warm day, they also spilled out onto the hill side.

A few years later Hugh Bourne became the founder of Primitive Methodism when he called a camp meeting at Mow Cop which lasted for over fourteen hours.

Pointon's house has now been demolished.

The building in the distance on the right hand side is that of the Primitive Methodist Memorial Chapel, built in 1860.

photo:  Borough Museum and Art Gallery, Newcastle under Lyme,
Staffordshire Past Tracks


 


Bemersley Farm and Mow Cop
Bemersley Farm and Mow Cop
Google Maps 2008


next: born on the 27th June 1808
previous: the story of the Primitive Methodist Church

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