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Methodism in the Potteries 
Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme


Methodism and Mow Cop

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Methodism and Mow Cop

In 1800 there were no Churches on Mow Cop, the Anglicans showed no interest in the area and the Methodists had reverted to just staying inside their own churches - open air sermons as established by Wesley has died off.

Methodist has been quite strong in Staffordshire from the late 1700s, as has been the case in many other industrial parts of the country. By the early 1800s the movement had split into several distinct sects.

One of these wings, primitive Methodism is said by some sources to have originated on Mow Cop. Hugh Bourne, a carpenter and William Clowes, two Methodists, organised open-air meetings during which there were strong displays of religious zeal.

Unfortunately for the men the Methodist Conference condemned their actions, expelling them from the movement in 1807. Together with their followers, they carried on worshipping in their preferred manner and in 1811 adopted the name Primitive Methodists. Over time this 'new' Methodist movement spread throughout the country, gathering many disciples along the way.

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. And so in 1801 he held prayer meetings at Pointon's Farm, which was to be the site of the very first camp meeting. Bourne had no idea how popular these meeting would become and before long there was not enough room in the farmhouse. He promised the people that they would one day have a full day of prayer on Mow, thus began the camp meetings and the birth of Primitive Methodism.

on Primitive Methodism

The village of Mow Cop

"The village of MOW COP is situated in an elevated position on the border of North Staffordshire and South Cheshire, about 2 miles north - east of Kidsgrove, with extensive views across the Cheshire Plain. The village takes its name from the nearby rocky hill, which is nearly 1,100 feet high. The rock itself, which is of Yoredale Rock, is the oldest in the neighbourhood. Stone from the area was used in the past for millstones. The hill was used as a triangulation point, firstly by William Yates for his Map of Staffordshire, drawn in 1775, and secondly, by the Ordnance Survey surveyors for the first Ordnance Survey map of the county.

Mow Cop folly was erected in 1754 as an eye-catcher for the Wilbraham family of nearby Rode Hall, and is a well-known landmark. It is an early example in England of an artificial creation of the ruins of a castle. A dispute over the ownership and upkeep of the folly took place in 1850 between the Sneyds, who by then owned the land on the Staffordshire side on which part of the folly stood and the Wilbrahams, who continued to own the land on the Cheshire side. The dispute was settled amicably with both sides agreeing to share the building.

In his Natural History of Staffordshire, published in 1686, Dr Robert Plot noted that at a smith’s shop at ‘Mole Cop’ he had noted an automated anvil, which he described in detail and illustrated in his book. This is his description: “I found an Engine that managed a large Sledg to so great advantage, that it frequently supplyed the defect of a man ordinarily had elswhere for that purpose, the Sledg being set into an Axis of wood from whence goes a rodd of Iron fastened to a Pallet, that reaches out a little beyond the Anvil, which being drawn down by the foot of the Smith, who keeps time to it with his hand-Hammer, is returned again by three springs of holly that clasp the Axis in a contrary way”.

St Thomas’ Church was built in 1841-42 in the Gothic style at a cost of £1665. The ecclesiastical parish was formed soon afterwards in 1844. The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1852, although there is some dispute about the date. It is now a museum for Methodism and for the Mow Cop area as well as being a private home.

Mow Cop will always be associated with the birth of Primitive Methodism. This came about as a result of the great Methodist open air camp meeting held in 1807 by Hugh Bourne, a carpenter, and William Clowes, a potter. As a result of this meeting and another like it at Norton in the Moors, Bourne and Clowes were expelled by the Methodist Conference, Methodism’s ruling body, who disapproved of the fervour shown at such meetings. Bourne and his followers were undeterred and it was from this beginning at Mow Cop that Primitive Methodism was formed in 1811."

Staffordshire Past Track

Bank Chapel - Wesleyan 1839

Bank Chapel - Wesleyan Methodist 1839
Bank Chapel - Wesleyan Methodist 1839

picture: © R. Tabinor

The Bank Chapel was the very first Wesleyan Chapel to be built on Mow Cop. An enthusiastic Methodist farmer and miller, John Ford, built it in 1839

Mow Cop Primitive - originally 1841

First Primitive Methodist Chapel
Mow Cop
Built A.D. 1841


Mow Cop Primitive Methodist Chapel

Situated on the corner of Woodcock Lane and Primitive Street


The first Primitive Methodist Chapel was built on Mow Cop was in 1841 just twelve months prior to St Thomas and The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. It was at first a much smaller building than today and was built just behind the site of the Coronation Mill. By 1857 it was to small for their purposes, and so a larger Chapel was built 100 or yards away next to Pointon's Farm.

It took three years to build and was ready by 1860. It was enlarged in 1882 after being damaged by storm damage.


The stone from the 1st Primitive Methodist Chapel
The original date state from the 1841 chapel was discovered and  in 1903 was inserted in the side of the new Chapel.


Primitive Methodist Memorial Chapel
Erected AD1860
Enlarged AD1882

Mow Cop Wesleyan - originally 1842

Hillside Methodist Chapel

Wesleyan Memorial Church, Mow Cop
Wesleyan Memorial Church, Mow Cop

Now known as the Wesleyan Memorial Church was originally built in 1842 then re built in 1852 - the later Church was built around the original church and then the small church was dismantled from within.

The 1851 Census of Places of Religious Worship shows the Wesleyan church being full to capacity with 177 persons, average attendance 150. The building closed as a chapel in 1986 and is now the Chapel Museum

Wesleyan 1852
Wesleyan 1852

Mount Pleasant Primitive - originally 1856

United Methodist Free Church, Mount Pleasant
United Methodist Free Church, Mount Pleasant

The United Methodist Free Church, Mount Pleasant, it was built on the slopes of Mow Hill in 1856 - probably as a Primitive Methodist Church


the porch added in 1903



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