Methodists, Mow Cop and social change event taking place at Cheshire's Moreton Hall | Knutsford Times

Methodists, Mow Cop and social change event taking place at Cheshire’s Moreton Hall

By on August 30, 2019

Next month a free event at Mow Cop will shine a light on an unknown history and reveal the significant role it played in the founding of the Primitive Methodism – a major movement in English Methodism. The popular walking spot and folly at Mow Cop have been under the care of the National Trust since 1937 attracting many visitors a year, but few know about the important events that took place here and the histories that lie beneath their feet.

A free event on Saturday 7 September will bring music performances, poetry, storytelling and talks at Mow Cop Castle 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 and Wirral 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.”

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 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.  

Kate continued, “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’ll be limited parking at Mow Cop Community Church and 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.

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About Lucy Thorpe

Lucy Thorpe is a freelance journalist who writes for the Knutsford Times - covering stories and news in and around Cheshire and Greater Manchester. If you've got a story to share, or would like to speak to Lucy, please email

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