Mow Cop And Its Slopes

A short history By
W.J. Harper
Tunstall 1907

Growth of Churches

It is safe to say that seventy-five years ago there was not a single church or chapel to be found on Mow Hill proper, and not more than four or five on its widely stretching slopes. It is worthy of remark therefore that in the same area there are today at least thirty-eight churches and chapels.
On the hill itself there are eight, none of which existed seventy-five years ago, while the same thing may be said of the other thirty churches, with four or five' exceptions, which are Astbury, Biddulph, Harriseahead, Lawton and Newchapel. We think all these, with the exception of Harris ahead Wesleyan, will probably date from Norman times. During the last one hundred and five years there has been at least thirty-four churches and chapels built on Mow Cop and its slopes, which shows a remarkable growth of religious institutions. But we must bear in mind that each of these places is a centre of religious activity, such as Sunday Schools, Day and Evening Classes, Band of Hope, Christian Endeavours and similar organisations; and that therefore in addition to establishing so many churches, they have started and kept going diversified agencies helpful to each particular church as well as helpful to the people generally. All these things must be taken into account if we wish to get anything like an adequate idea of what progress has been made during the last decade.

We have prepared a list of the Churches and Chapels included in the thirty-eight mentioned, with dates of erection as far as possible, and also the County in which they are situated.
They are as follows:-

Churches and Chapels Immediately on Mow Cop

1839 Bank Wesleyan-----------------------------------------Cheshire
Mow Cop Primitive. New Premises,1862----- "
Mow Cop Wesleyan. Rebuilt 1852-------------- "
St. Thomas', Mow Cop.------------------------------ Staffs.
1855 Rookery Wesleyan------------------------- "
1856 Mount Pleasant, U.M.F.C. -------------------- Cheshire
1874 St. Luke’s Mow Cop------------------ "
1880 Rookery Mission Church-------------- Staffs.

Churches and Chapels on the slopes surrounding Mow Cop

Norman St. Mary's Church, Astbury Cheshire
Not Known St. Lawrence, Biddulph. Rebuilt (except tower 1833) Staffs.
Not Known St. James’ Newchapel. Rebuilt 1776 and 1876 Staffs.
Norman Lawton Church Cheshire
1801 Harriseahead Wesleyan. Rebuilt 1825. New premises 1876 Staffs,
1824 Hall Green Wesleyan. New premises 1874 Staffs.
1833 Congleton Edge WesleyanRebuilt 1889 Cheshire
1837 St. Thomas' Kidsgrove Staffs.
1847 Newchapel Wesleyan. New premises 1872 "
1848 Knypersley Church "
1849 Kidsgrove Wesleyan "
1851 Kidsgrove Primitive "
1854 Biddulph Primitive "
1861 Harriseahead Primitive "
1862? Brindley Ford Primitive. New premises 1898 "
1862 Packmoor Primitive "
1863 Christ Church, Biddulph Moor "
1864 All Saints, Rode Cheshire
1856 Bradley Green Wesleyan Staffs.
1865 Bradley Green Primitive "
1870 Ball Green Primitive "
1871 White hill Wesleyan "
1873 Kent Green. New premises 1892 Cheshire
1886 Biddulph Wesleyan Staffs.
1886 Wesley Hall Mission, Biddulph "
1888 Biddulph Moor Wesleyan "
1891 Kidsgrove Roman Catholic "
1902 Heath Mission, Bradley Green "
1904 Biddulph Moor Primitive "


The village of Harriseahead, although it is in close proximity to Mow Hill, is not on it. The old Wesleyan Chapel here, however, is the mother church of the whole district.
It was attended by the early Methodists both from Cheshire and North Staffordshire, including the whole of Mow Cop. Its congregations therefore were not merely villagers by a long way in the days of its early history. It is interesting to go and look at the old place. The situation is - as a good many of the early chapels were, and as the Primitive Chapel here is also - behind some cottage property, with a long narrow passage as an approach to it.
Of course, it has been altered and enlarged, but the original walls still remain, also the roof under which the venerable Hugh Bourne began his religious experiences. There are many Primitive Methodists who venerate this pioneer of their cause and who regard the site as sacred ground.
Strangely enough, when the Chapel was enlarged in 1823, the gallery was taken out, which was before that time across one end of the interior.
The division of the ground floor was of the old type viz., men sitting on one side of the chapel and women on the other and the choir was in a corner by the pulpit.
Over the original entrance to the chapel and facing the schoolyard is an oval date-stone fixed in the outer wall and bearing the following inscription :
" This Chapel was erected in the Year of Our Lord, 1801 and enlarged in 1823."
Whether this is the original date-stone could not be definitely stated probably it is not, but it would be inserted most likely at the time of the first enlargement in 1823, it appears never to have been altered and records the enlargement on it.
The Sunday School, built at an angle with the chapel, bears a date-stone which is a copy of the above in design, and bears the inscriptions:
" Harriseahead Sunday School, Erected in the Year of our Lord, 1856." The number of Scholars when opened was about one hundred.
The new Wesleyan Chapel was erected in 1876, and stands in High Street, Harriseahead,on the way to Sands.


In one of the many ravines of Mow Hill nestles the village known as the Rookery. From many points it is picturesque, for the buildings could not have been built at more diversified angles than they are, and as they are set in a rising hollow, they present an ‘out of the usual’ appearance. The population of this village has increased four times during the last fifty years.
The Wesleyan Chapel is the largest place of worship hereabouts, and is an offshoot of the Wesleyan cause at Harriseahead. The Jubilee of this Chapel was celebrated in 1905.
In the village there is an Iron Church, at present under the care of the vicar of Mow Cop.

Ball's Bank and Whitehill

Whitehill Wesleyan Chapel was opened on December 12th,1871, by the Rev. J.H. Beech, then the Chairman of the Macclesfield District. Very few people in the locality can now remember the event, as there is no date-stone on the chapel and no records preserved of its opening.

The first days of the Primitive Methodist cause at Ball's Bank began in 1869 when some cottage property was converted into a chapel. After completion it was opened by the Rev. W.S. Saunders, of Tunstall, on January 1st,1870; the collection on that occasion being £6:2sh. The present larger iron building, designated "The Tabernacle," is certainly a prominent feature when viewed from the neighbouring hills. This was opened by the Rev. T. Laurance, of Crewe, on June 2nd,1895.The collections on that occasion being £5 14s 11d. The collections here at the Sunday School Sermons in these days is between £30 and £40.

The Oldest Two Chapels near Mow Cop Summit ...

Mr. John Munday has made water colour drawings of the two oldest chapels near Mow Cop summit. One is of the first Wesleyan Chapel The old chapel was built half the height of the enlarged building now part of the Sunday School. It was a brick shell, whitewashed within. The building work was undertaken by Daniel Shufflebotham and the woodwork by Hugh Bourne. It was lighted by candles fastened to the wall with clay.
The chapel was in the Burslem circuit, and Daniel Shufflebotham and Hugh Bourne met in class at Burslem. Although it was built as early as 1801 it is still intact. Petty,in his history of the Primitive Methodist Connexion,when speaking of the period when this chapel was erected, says "During 1801, a Chapel was built at Harriseahead capable of seating two hundred persons, chiefly through Hugh Bourne's exertions." So that the old place has quite a distinct interest for both Primitive Methodists as well as for Wesleyans. At any rate this enterprise would be one of the earliest if not the first experience of chapel building that he had.

Old Wesleyan Chapel at Harriseahead

Erected by Hugh Bourne 1801