The heather strewn romantic, and equally bleak, summit of Mow Cop (the name formerly spealt Mole and Mael, which expressed bald, while Cop, signified peak; now pronounced ‘Mow’ as in rhyming with ‘cow’) is a rocky hill nearly 1,100 feet high with a ‘mock’ ruined castle on top built in 1754. As part of the south-westernmost ridge of the Pennine range, the landmark straddles the Cheshire-Staffordshire border offering splendid unrivaled panoramic views of the surrounding countryside; the five shires of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Debryshire, Shropshire and Lancashire. Come on a spotlessly clear and sunny day, and you will find that by standing on the top of the hill provides a spectacular vista extending as far westward as the the mountain ranges of Snowdonia.
Contrary to today’s perception of the ‘folly’, it was actually Primitive Methodism that put Mow Cop on the map long before visitors began to flock to the National Trust site.
From 1807, Mow Cop was involved in the very beginnings of Primitive Methodism. On 31 May 1807, a group of revivalists, led by local wheelwright, Hugh Bourne, staged England’s first ‘camp meeting’ here on the Cheshire side of the ridge in a field at School Farm. This was the seed of the first English Camp Meeting. People from up and down the country were drawn to this sort of new Christian Mecca. On a glorious sunny day full of promise a congregation in its thousands, some travelling day and night, partook of fellowship in a day of preaching and prayer. With heaps of stones serving as elevated pulpits the growing crowds began to experience the manifest power of God close at hand. Thus open air services or ‘camp meetings’ were introduced.
Hugh Bourne stated, ‘I had not conceived that such a multitude was present. Thousands hearing with an attenttion as solemn as death, presented a scene of the most grandeur that my eyes ever beheld. The preachers seemed to be filled with an uncommon zeal, and an extra-ordinary unction attended their word, while tears were flowing and sinners trembling on every side….throughout the vast assembly the Lord was present to heal, and many were savingly converted.‘
(The above is an extract taken from: The romance of Primitive Methodist by Joseph Ritson.)
Here it will suffice to say how it was at this particular meeting in which William Clowes, a Burslem potter and leader of another group of revivalists also shared, led in due course to the formation of a separate Primitive Methodist Connexion. Clowes spoke of the day saying ‘At the termination of the memorable day I felt excessively exhausted, as I had laboured from the commencement of the meeting in the morning till eight o’clock in the evening with little cessation; but the glory that filled my soul on that day far exceeds my power of description.‘
The picture is of the ‘rock’ pulpit monument, standing on the National Trust site just below the ‘folly’ erected to commemorate the Primitive Methodist heritage of this hillside.
Further sites of interest about our most wonderful church and community of Mow Cop please click:
Or to get a copy of “Shouting and singing their way to heaven” with a foreword by Dave Lawton. A book written for those who may know little about Primitive Methodism. clicking on the link below: