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2 April, 2020


Methodists, Mow Cop and social change


An event inspired by the Primitive Methodist camp meetings

Saturday 7th September 2019, 11am – 3pm at Mow Cop


This weekend, a free event at Mow Cop Castle near Congleton hopes to shine a light on an unknown history of the popular walking spot and folly.

National Trust historians will reveal the significant role Mow Cop played in the founding of Primitive Methodism – a major movement in English Methodism.

Mow Cop Castle has been under the care of the National Trust since 1937, attracting many visitors each year, but few know about the important events that took place there and the significant history that lies beneath their feet.

The free event on Saturday 7th September will bring music performances, poetry, storytelling and talks to Mow Cop to tell the story and bring its place in history to life.

Primitive Methodist banners will also be on display at Mow Cop Methodist Church, along with talks about the movement.

The event is part of People’s Landscapes, a project through which the National Trust is exploring the connections between its places and significant moments of social and political change. 

Kate Picker, visitor experience manager for National Trust places in Cheshire said: “We’re delighted to be working with Mow Cop Methodist Church to tell the hidden story of how important Mow Cop is to the Primitive Methodist movement through this free event.

“It’s been really interesting to spend time at Englesea Brook Museum and to find out how hugely popular the camp meetings were.”





Hugh Bourne

In 1807, Hugh Bourne organised a Methodist camp meeting on Mow Cop.

His inspiration came from similar meetings which were taking place in America led by a man called Lorenzo Dow, and because he felt that Methodism was moving away from its true Wesleyan spirit.

The meeting attracted people from as far as Macclesfield and Warrington, many of whom would’ve travelled to the area by foot.

The event at Mow Cop was seen as a great success with another soon organised.

The Methodist Church was concerned by these meetings, as it was shortly after the French revolution, and there was great unease whenever working class people gathered in large numbers.

As a result, Bourne was asked to cease holding the meetings and eventually asked to leave the Methodist Church.

As a committed man of huge conviction, he went on to co-found Primitive Methodism which remained separate from the Wesleyan Methodist Church until the 1930s.

During this time, Primitive Methodists were involved in a number of working class movements, including schooling and education, and in the founding of trade unions.


Mow Cop

Mow Cop was a place of huge importance for this group and camp meetings were held there for over a hundred years.

1907 marked the 100th anniversary of the first meeting with thousands of people gathering on Mow Cop and train services put on especially for the event from as far away as Sheffield.  

Mow Cop is the southernmost outcrop in Cheshire of hard sandstone grit, rising 355m above sea level.

At its highest point stands a mock tower that was built as a summer house in 1754 by Randle Wilbraham, the local lord of the manor.

This tower is visible for miles around and is a major landmark visited throughout the year.



Kate explained: “We’re particularly pleased to have new poetry, specially written for this event, being performed by Emily Rose who is Staffordshire’s poet laureate.

“For those not able to attend the event, a new online self-led trail is being created for Mow Cop to share some of this fascinating history.”

A free park and ride shuttle bus will run between Lifestream Church, Newpool Road, Kynpersley, ST8 6NN and Mow Cop from 10.30am – 4.30pm.

There is limited parking at Mow Cop Community Church – both the National Trust Mow Cop car park and the Mow Cop Methodist Church car park will be closed for the day to allow the spaces to be used for the activities connected to the event.

Members of the public are encouraged to plan their journeys, using the park and ride as well as public transport.

For more information, please click here.



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