References to Ramsor in
New History of Methodism
As yet the Camp-meeting Methodists were not a distinct community, but rather a mission-band whose labours were auxiliary to those of the regular churches. In some cases, as at Ramsor in 1809-10, they supplemented the regular fortnightly services by supplying the pulpit on the alternate Sunday. As W. F. Slater says: `The societies which Bourne formed were allowed to go under the protection of the older body.' 1 In the nature of things this modus vivendi could not last long; nor did it. The inevitable change turned on the refusal of the Burslem Circuit to take over the Stanley Society. The terms, being unacceptable, were declined. March 1810 has come to be popularly and officially regarded as the beginning of Primitive Methodism, but, strictly speaking, it only marks the date when the Camp-meeting Methodists became a distinct community. Written plans were now prepared whereon are found Ramsor, and Wootton in Derbyshire and the Dowite society of Risley in Lancashire; while the fact that Warrington, Stockton Heath, and Macclesfield also stand on the plan shows that interchanges between the Independent and Camp-meeting Methodists still went on.
1 Slater, A Manual 0f Modern Church History (1895), p. 181.
In June 1810 William Clowes was deprived of his plan, and in the September following his ticket of membership was withheld, on the ground that he attended camp-meetings contrary to the Methodist discipline. Many of the members of his classes, being unwilling to part from their leader, insisted upon sharing his exile. A home was found for the unchurched in the house of Mr. Smith, Tunstall, where for two years a weekly service for prayer and preaching had been held. Clowes had been accustomed to attend these lively Friday evening services, at which Hugh Bourne and others of the Camp-meeting Methodists were frequently present. Probably we shall not be far wrong in concluding that it was Clowes' connexion with this Revivalist conventicle, as much as his frequenting the Ramsor camp- meetings, that brought on him the major penalty. This view is confirmed by the fact that James Steele, of Tunstall, was deprived of his offices of Sunday-school superintendent and the leadership of two classes, because, it was alleged, he had attended a love-feast in Mr. Smith's kitchen. The local historian, in referring to these disciplinary measures, says they were taken against `a party' whose evident purpose was `the recovery of the simplicity and uniformity of Primitive Methodism.' James Steele's severance from the Methodist Society involved the loss of many of his members and scholars who voluntarily went out with him. The kitchen-church soon became the centre of a small circuit. Two working men contributed ten shillings a week, in order that Clowes might give all his time to evangelization. Some of the incidents which occurred in these early missionary excursions are recorded in Clowes' published Journal. The kitchen having become too small to accommodate the Clowesites, as they were called, a remove was made to a warehouse. Preparations were soon made for building a chapel in Tunstall of such a form that it could easily be converted into four small dwelling-houses.
Ashworth Life of Hugh Bourne
At the Norton Camp meeting Mr. Bourne was requested by a person from Laskedge to go and preach in his house, a society was soon raised up at the place, and the Leek Wesleyan circuit was induced to take charge of it. At this time a course of missionary labour was opened up before Mr. Bourne and his friends. At Tean, a village some twenty miles from Bemersley, they preached in the open air, raised a society and joined it to the Wesleyans. They had also signal success at Kingsley, Farley, Ramsor, Wootton, and Market Drayton. On the first Sabbath in May, 1808, they held an open-air service on a mountain in Shropshire, called the Wreckin, near Wellington, for the purpose of counteracting the ungodly revellings on that spot at that period of the year, which proved very `successful.
At the very time of his expulsion he was actively engaged in evangelistic labours at many, and some very distant, places from Bemersley ; among which were Laskedge, four miles ; Macclesfield, fourteen miles Drayton and Old Park, Salop, over twenty miles;. Runcorn, over thirty miles; Delamere Forest, twenty-seven miles ; Kingsley and Tean, over twelve miles Wootton, Ramsor, and Lexhead, sixteen miles; Warrington Risley, and other places in Lancashire, over forty miles. Surely, we must say that it is remarkable for a working man to be earnestly pursuing extensive evangelistic labours in no less than four counties-Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire.
Our limited space prevents us from noticing Mr. Bourne's visit to Leeds, Manchester, Warrington, Runcorn, Ramsor, and other places of interest about this period, but we may remark, in passing, that on one of his visits to Warrington, the eminent Mrs. Richardson - a lady of good position - was induced under his ministry to start for heaven, who became a successful preacheress, and a mother in Israel. A Mrs. Eaton also was set at liberty, while he was engaged in conversation with her. He also states that as he was going to Warrington - the lane being full of militia and other people - he preached to them as he walked for about a mile and a half. This he regards as the third processionary service with which he was acquainted. The first was a walking prayer meeting with the Stockport revivalists about 1804. The second was a singing procession with the Harriseahead people on the way to a Burslem love feast. And this the third a walking preaching service. This will account for the great interest he took in after years, in promoting walking, singing, praying, and preaching services. His journal also speaks of a great work at Ramsor and other places, and as many as thirty starting for heaven at one time, also of Mr. Joseph Salt, a farmer, and his wife getting converted, and becoming eminently useful. He closed this year of 1808, which had been distinguished for many remarkable conversions, by attending, in company with Mr. Clowes, a very solemn watchnight service in Delamere Forest.
WE have seen the close of the year 1808. In the year 1809, Mr. Bourne pursued the same course of Christian zeal and labour as that by which the previous years had been distinguished. Some of the events of this year, as we shall see, had an important bearing on the subsequent enlargement and prosperity of the work. During this year, in his numerous labours he was greatly assisted by Mr. Clowes. W. Alcock also who was well known to the writer, rendered much eminent service to the rising community, and was. induced this year by Mr. Bourne to begin to preach. The principal Camp-meetings held this year were two on Mow, one at Ramsor, and one at Biddulph, the results. of which were encouraging. Mr. Bourne, to support himself and also other labourers, continued for a time to work with his own bands. In his journal at this, period he records among others the following entries:- He writes, "Hay-making, and made great progress in Greek. Hay-making all day, and J. Nixon came for me at night to go and lead Clowes' class. I went and had a good time. On September 22nd I worked very hard in the cornfield. I was setting up corn after three scythes, and by working quickly I often got time to kneel in prayer behind a shock of corn."
In the magazine for this year Mr. Bourne published a stirring article on a full, free, and present salvation he also gave numerous instances of the power of faith in producing immediate results, which had come under his own observation. One was at Ramsor. A young woman came into the house where he was sitting, he was pursuing his usual custom of inwardly waiting upon the Lord. In a very short time after, he engaged in spiritual conversation with her, and she entered into glorious liberty. Another instance took place at Boylston in the case of a respectable farmer named Mr. Morecroft. We give this in Mr. Bourne's own words: "his conversion took place in his own house one night when I and W. Clowes and others were also present. We were waiting on the Lord. The unction from the Holy One began to flow, and I attempted to open the mystery of faith, and as the unction increased I spoke more at large. While so doing, Mr. Morecroft fell off his chair, cried for mercy, and in one minute was set at liberty." Which of our modern magazines record such instances? What Editor have we had who would not be too glad to find a place to record such desirable occurrences, were they forwarded to him? And why should not such conversions during the exercise of conversation be more numerous in our present large Connexion than even at its commencement ?
[ Editorís Note This example from Ramsor happened in 1810 and is the example of Elizabeth Warrington, visiting her uncle Mr. Buxton. This is recorded in The Primitive Methodist Magazine for November 1824. ]
Kendall History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion
And now at last William Clowes is to feel the effects of the Conference edict. Ever since October 9th, 1808, when he preached from his first text at the Ramsor Camp Meeting, he has been closely associated with Hugh Bourne in mission work; although, being a member and leader of two classes in the Old Connexion, his name has not stood on any written plan of the Camp Meeting Methodists. For two years he has been borne with; but in June, 1810, his name is taken off the plan on which it has stood since November, 1809.
Primitive Methodist Magazine, December 1824
Anecdotes of Healing (page 269)
We, sometimes," I observed, "meet with things which we can hardly understand or comprehend. A few days ago," I observed, "I renewed the tickets at Ribden, near Ramsor. And among the members in the class, there, was an aged woman, Elizabeth Wain, who appeared not to have a clear witness that God, for Christ's sake, had pardoned her sins; but she held that God had done much for her: as a proof; she observed that, for more than six years, she had gone on crutches; but now the Lord had enabled her to go without them. As a cripple she had suffered much, but the Lord had healed her bodily affliction,"
Further account of Elizabeth Wain.
I gave much diligence to investigate these things more fully. And at Ramsor many could tell of Betty Wain, as well as of her afflictions and sufferings, and of the instance of miraculous healing that had 270 Anecdotes of Healings taken place on her. Indeed, it was, at that time the talk of the neighbourhood. About the same time her husband also was brought to the Lord, and died shortly after.
Simcock Primitive Methodism in the Leek Moorlands
4 THE ORIGINS OF PRIMITIVE METH0DISM
Hugh Bourne became a full-time minister and yet carried on his work in carpentry, building and harvesting. He missioned as far away as Warrington and Runcorn. He regularly met the societies he had formed. In 1809 he held camp-meetings at Mow Cop and Biddulph Moor, and at Ramsor, which, as we shall see, became a most important centre for the further spread of his work. (It was for attending the camp meetings at Ramsor that Clowes was put out of Wesleyan Society.) Bourne also became a prolific writer and publisher of tracts and other materials. He paid James Crawfoot a weekly wage from his own pocket to be an evangelist: he showed again that he had no intention of establishing a separate denomination by instructing Crawfoot to make converts and join them to other connexions. The refusal of the Burslem Wesleyan Circuit, however, to accept a Society formed by Bourne at Standley (four miles from Bemersley) was perhaps the first pressure on him to establish a new connexion.
By 1810, the Bourneites, as we must still call them, had eleven preachers and eleven preaching-places beside Harriseahead, Standley, Ramsor, Wootton, Tean, Caldon Lowe, Lask Edge, Macclesfield, Warrington, Stockton Heath and Runcorn.
These three groups united to receive a uniform ticket of membership in May, 1811, (Francis Horobin of Ramsor defraying the cost) and henceforth combined all their missionary work. No new name was chosen but the first written plan appeared in 1812. It was a "camp-meeting brotherhood" without a name. The name Primitive Methodist was finally taken at a meeting in February, 1813, on the suggestion of James Crawfoot, whose name may be seen at the head of the list of preachers on the accompanying copy of the first plan. $ Crawfoot had heard Wesley use the term in 1790 in reference to open-air preaching: Wesley had said that primitive (that is, the earliest) Methodist preachers had adopted that type of preaching. Here follows the relevant passage from the 87 year old John Wesley's speech to preachers, delivered at Chester;
3. WESLEYAN METHODISM IN THE MOORLANDS
Wesleyan Methodism was well established by the time Hugh Bourne apparently almost by chance - turned his attention to missionary work in Ramsor, * the starting place for all Primitive Methodist work in the area. Wesleyan preachers were in Longnor (one of the ten societies later to form the Wetton and Longnor Circuit) before Hugh Bourne's birth, and it had a chapel as early as 1780.
* Petty, page 165
4. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO CONNEXIONS
It is tempting, when considering the differences between the two Connexions, to see something symbolic in the styles of architecture each adopted. Wesleyan buildings in the 19th century were always the more ornate, as suiting the respectable, quiet church which had become acceptable to society at large; Primitive Methodists built the cheapest possible church, as befitted a camp-meeting society to which the building was of little importance. The architecture of Leek's ex-Wesleyan Chapels may be contrasted with that of the Primitive Methodists' simple functional buildings at Bradnop, Ramsor, Reapsmoor, Hulme End and Warslow (all pictured in these pages).
5. BOURNE COMES TO RAMSOR
Hugh Bourne in his history describes the expansion of the work in the Ramsor district and how the establishment of powerful societies there, at Froghall, Alton and Rocester, prompted the first issue of P.M. tickets. The passage he chose for them is found in the 28th chapter of Acts: "But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against." $
$ Farndale, page 42
Anyone wishing to visit Ramsor will have difficulty in finding it, and, when he has found it, will discover merely an insignificant hamlet. Yet this was the place Hugh Bourne knew well and from which he spread his faith throughout the Moorlands and into Derbyshire. Ramsor still has a chapel, built in 1897, which replaced the original building and faces the original site. An old plan, framed and hanging there, dated 1821-2, is headed "Ramsor Branch of Tunstall Circuit" and on it are detailed, not only places in the immediate vicinity, but also Warslow and Hulme End, which are discussed in Chapters 9 and 10, and other societies in the northern part of Leek Moorlands. Here, in the left-hand column, is a complete list of places on the plan. The right-hand column shows the regular programme for week-day meetings.
1821 and 1822
SUNDAY PLAN WEEK DAY
Wooton 2 Ramsor 6 Ramsor M
N. Houses 10 W. Houses 2 Wooton T
Alton 6 Ipstones W
C. Common 2 Mobally 6 Froghall Th
Riddens 2 Rocester 6 N. Houses F
G. Gate 2 Th. W. Head 6 W. Houses S
Ford. 10 Onecote 2 _______________
Froghall 10 Foxt 1
Ipstones 3 Alton M
Leek 2 Th.W.Head T
C. Head 10 Fleet Green 2 Rocester W
H. End 10 Warslow 2 Riddens Th
Mill Dale 2 Alstonefield 6 Stanton F
Biggin 2 _______________
L. Tean 4 U. Tean 6
Fleet Green T
Mixon Mine T
Mill Dale W
Later societies were successfully established and chapels built at some of these places, but at this time they were cottage meetings, and at some of the places the cause failed. Ramsor gave its name to a separate circuit in 1822 and it nurtured the Leek cause and made a separate circuit there in 1838, and it provided the men who regularly visited the places listed above. In recent years Ramsor has become a very small society of the Dove Valley Circuit (principal church, Uttoxeter). In September 1969 it was closed and the building is now (June 1970) advertised for sale.
Although Leek was missioned from Ramsor Hugh Bourne had done some ground work in the town long before this as shown by the following Meeting House Registrations:
It was at humble places like Ramsor and Wooton then that the Primitive Methodist Connexion first took root and from which it began to spread so extensively that by the beginning of this century it had nearly 5,000 chapels and preaching-places. The following is taken from the Primitive Methodist Magazine of 1856. It is an article showing how Bourne began his distant religious excursions, and what happened on Saturday, May 7th, 1808.
% "By a peculiar opening of Divine Providence, H. Bourne was called to visit Ramsor, a village in Staffordshire, for the first time; he preached in the evening, and again on the Sunday following.
Several villages were pointed out to him, at which there were no means of grace. He fixed upon one of them, namely Wooton-under- Weaver, and appointed a meeting to be held there on the Sunday but one after.
Ramsor is about 17 miles from Bemersley, and Wooton is near two miles further.
On his way to Ramsor and Wooton Saturday, May 21st, 1808, he came to the conclusion of a thing long bothering him - to give up business (timber-merchant) and take up extensive religious excursions. The meetings were the beginning of a great spread of the gospel."
% Mag. 1836.
Bourne had visited the area before 1808 however. Two Meeting House Registrations were made by him at Kingsley and the earlier of them must have been Bourne's first registration after the memorable Mow Cop Meeting of 1807.
160 A house in KINGSLEY, registered for Protestant Dissenters by *
Hugh Bourne on 4 July 1807. Witnessed by Hugh Bourne,
James Bourne, John Sargent and William Moseley, the occupier.
400 A house at Lees, KINGSLEY, registered for Protestant
Dissenters by Hugh Bourne, 7 June 1813.
When Ramsor commenced as a separate circuit the first two preachers stationed there were S. West and W. Sleath but they had the help of visiting preachers, and something of the flavour of such an early evangelist's work in the district may be savoured from the brief entries in Samuel Heath's Journal
"30th Jan - Alstonefield. Feb 2nd - Alstonefield and Mill Dale. Many $ have been convinced of their lost state. Feb 3rd Oncote and the Lord was there. Feb 5th - Preached at the Water Houses - there was a shaking amongst the dry bones. Feb 7th - Swinsco and had. a good time - two souls professed to find the Lord. Sun, Feb 9th Riddens and Rocester and had great liberty. Feb 11th Wooton. Feb 12th Ramsor -the Lord owned the Word. Feb 13th Foxt. Feb 16th Wooton and Ramsor - one cried out for mercy and did not get liberty. Feb 21st Then I was reading my bible at Ipstones I had a divine impression to go to the Water Houses. Had class there, two found the Lord. Swinscoe and the power of God came down like a mighty rushing wind. Stanton. Wed 26th Biggen - It was a glorious time. Thur 27th Alstonefield - ten were crying for mercy, and six professed to find the Lord. Fri 28th Froghall. This has been a blessed week. Sun, Mar 2nd Threap Wood Head. Night at Great Gate Mon 3rd Alton, prayed with a woman there - God set her soul at liberty. At night spoke at Riddens. Mar 7th Great Gate. Sun Mar 9th Cheadle Common - afterwards Teen. Mar 10th Stanton. Mar 11th Wooton - the scene resembled that in Ezra iii, 11-13. Wed Mar 12th Ramsor - great hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Mar 13th Foxt. Mar 14th Ipstone. Sun 16th Administered sacrament at Ipstones"
$ Mag 1823
$ The new Ramsor Circuit continued its expansion and three new chapels were opened in 1835-6. Hugh Bourne's brother, James, preached at the opening of Swinscoe Chapel on Sunday, August 23rd 1835. Primitive Methodist chapels often opened in debt but that at Swinscoe was reported as "in good circumstances, collections and subscriptions amounting to £40."
$ Mag. 1836.
Swinscoe Chapel, opened Aug 1835 and Norton P.M. Chapel, re-built 1857, now a
still used, showing a modern addition to Library Centre. Speaking of the Camp Meeting
the original building - one of the first in held there in 1807, one historian describes Norton as
the old Ramsor Circuit. "Hugh Bourne 's Rubicon." =
= Farndale, page 34
Mill Dale P.M. Chapel, built 1835, still in use and now in the Ashbourne Methodist Circuit was an early Society in the Ramsor Circuit.
Mill Dale chapel opened in the following January "in the Leek Branch of the Ramsor Circuit;" There was "scarcely any debt."
In April, 1836, a new chapel was opened at Waterhouses.
A report from the Circuit in the P.M. Magazine in 1838 states: "We have made Leek into a separate circuit; and we have built a new chapel at Ellaston, and have rebuilt and enlarged Ipstones Chapel."
* Mag. 1838,
According to Dyson, Wesleyan Methodism also came to Leek and the Moorlands from the same direction. He describes (p.9) how Thomas Hanby in 1754 approached Leek via Wootton and Bottom-house,
6. RICHARD JUKES
Even without Leek, Ramsor Circuit continued to grow and showed an increase of 50 members in 1839; it also helped to consolidate the cause in Leek that year by holding what was aptly called a "Protracted Meeting" + from Sunday, March 24th, 1839, to Monday, April 1st, 1839.
+ Mag. 1839.
Before the Primitive Methodists built a place in Leek, however, a chapel was erected, part of the Ramsor Circuit, in Hulme End. Cottage Meetings in every village and hamlet in the area preceded this first building. The first such regular meeting-place in the neighbourhood of Warslow, with which we are chiefly concerned, was registered with the Bishop as follows:-
The opening of Hulme End Chapel was reported to the Primitive Methodist Magazine by the then Travelling Preacher (i.e. the Superintendent Minister) of the Ramsor Circuit, R. Jukes. Three sermons were preached on the opening day, Sunday, November 16th, 1834.
The Rev. Arthur Wilkes, in a little sketch about the hymn-writers of the Camp Meeting Movement, speaks of the power and influence of Jukes' hymns:
"Multitudes were swept into the Redeemer's Kingdom,..Rev. Richard Jukes, one or the most devoted and original of the early Primitive Methodist Ministers...It would be nothing less than astonishing to recount his achievements in a very wide circuit (Ramsor) in the years from 1834 to 1839," $
$ Wilkes, page 91,
7. THE PRIMITIVE METHODIST CLASS
The first P.M. class tickets were suggested and financed by a Ramsor man in 1811. At the conference only eighteen years later a membership of 33,730 was reported, and over 400 chapels had been built, This progress was made from small local beginnings: Cottage-meetings of small "Classes" of people.
A favourite theme of the early Primitive Methodists was lecturing people about wasting their time on public amusement. Illustrations of this are to be plentifully found in the minutes of the Leek Fountain Street Circuit's Quarterly Meetings. It is to these minutes that reference has been made for much of our information about the Moorland societies at Warslow, Hulme End, Reapsmoor, Elkstones, Mixon and at neighbouring places which will be referred to later in more detail. (Incidentally Warslow's chapel is the only one of those just mentioned still in use, and Ramsor Chapel, from which they were all originally missioned, has also recently been closed.)
8. ORIGIN OF THE LEEK P.M. CIRCUIT
The early missioning was done in every village and hamlet of the Leek Moorlands from Ramsor, and the latter continued for a time to be the centre for the work south of the Leek-Ashbourne Road. But the difficult work of Primitive Methodism in the hills was to be centred on Leek (Fountain St. the principal Church) from shortly after 1838 until Union in 1952. It was a century of contrasts. The work, always difficult, was crowned with amazing success at first, and continued to spread up to the end of the 19th century; then came a gradual decline until, by the time of Union with the Wesleyan and other Methodist bodies, although a strong church in the country as a whole, Primitive Methodism in our area had very seriously declined in membership and influence.
9 ORGANISATIONAL CHANGES IN LEEK MOORLANDS METHODISM
Before tracing the history of two Moorland Primitive Methodist Chapels (Hulme End and Warslow) and of another two in less detail (Elkstone and Reapsmoor) it is important to note changes in organisation. The accompanying map shows the places in the North West of the County which were important in Hugh Bourne's early activities; it shows Ramsor and a few of the very many societies formed from that centre; it also shows in a cluster to the North East, the four places named above.
Hulme End and Mill Dale were the only two chapels built by the Ramsor Circuit in the N.E. They became part of the Leek P.M. Circuit when it branched off from the Ramsor Circuit. In its turn the Leek P.M. Circuit built, among others, the Chapels at Warslow, Elkstone, Reapsmoor and Mixon. Of the six, only Warslow, Elkstone and Reapsmoor, survived until the Union of the Methodist Churches in 1932 when they became part of the Wetton and Longnor Methodist Circuit.
One of the earliest entries in the first Minute Book now available of the Leek P.M. Circuit shows a circuit membership of 205. The Circuit had only been in existence, begun from Ramsor, for sixteen years, and its number of Chapels had increased in that time from three (Leek, Hulme End and Mill Dale) to seven. After another sixteen years, (1870) membership had increased to 250, two more chapels had been built, and the Sabbath schools of the Circuit catered for some 350 children. New preachers were constantly being made and the actual membership shown above was very tiny compared with the numbers of non-members who were drawn to Protracted (Revival) Meetings and Camp Meetings:
Primitive Methodism first came to Warslow in 1814, yet not for 35 years did the Society build the place which is used for worship to this day. Fountain Street P. M. Circuit inherited from Ramsor the chapels at Mill Dale and Hulme End and they added Thorncliffe (built 1839) and Biggin (1842). Warslow was the sixth society in the Circuit to have a permanent building. In the indenture dated 17th January, 1849, it is set down that a small plot + of land was bought for ten pounds and conveyed to Thomas Mellor of Cawlow, John Goodwin of Sheen, George Mellor of Hulme, Moses Bagnall of Warslow, William Barker and William Wint of Warslow (both miners) and Francis Ward of Sheen, "to permit a chapel or meeting-place intended to be erected...for religious worship by such persons as belong to the primitive methodist connexion ,.. according to the tenor and provisions of a certain deed-poll." The 'certain deed-poll' had been drafted twenty years earlier in the names of the founders of the Connexion: Hugh Bourne, James Bourne and William Clowes.
+ Circuit Safe, Wetton,
James Bourne has received very little attention from historians and was ignored in the documentary about Primitive Methodist origins, The Burning Mountain, recently produced at the Victoria Theatre, Hartshill. But he was in his day clearly recognised as one of the three founders and a commemorative plate preserved at Ramsor Chapel shows his portrait with those of his brother and William Clowes. He appears to have been a more active preacher than Hugh, conducting several services at chapel openings, and his name appears as witness to registrations of dissenters' meeting-houses.
Reapsmoor is a small part of an extensive parish called Fawfieldhead, which includes on its Eastern and Western extremities Hulme End and Newtown respectively. From the earliest missioning efforts of the Ramsor Primitive Methodists in the 1820s it seems that there was a keen little band in Reapsmoor, meeting in one cottage or another, or in the open-air, but only able, as late as the 1870s. to think of a regular chapel. It seems likely, in fact, that a Primitive Methodist was heard at Reapsmoor as early as 1813, for, in that year, William Clowes, one of the founders, wrote in his Journal:
"I preached the gospel of the grace of God at Stonepit Hill, + Fleet Green, Cow Head, Warslow, Hulme End, Allston Field, Mill Dale, Hartington, Butterton, Windy Bank and Onecote; at all the places God poured out His Spirit, many were truly saved, and at most of these places Christian Churches were formed."
+ Petty, p.57
The wonderful success of the Mow Cop Camp Meeting in May, 1807, inspired the efforts first of the men of Ramsor and then of the men of Leek in Reapsmoor and in neighbouring villages. There was sometimes remarkable oratory at these camp meetings. They were conducted on no set pattern but exhortations were commonly made and the recital of experiences given. The Love-feast, though sometimes held indoors, was a similar sort of occasion (and Wesleyans too had these.) Reference to a P.M. Love-feast, held a hundred years ago locally, has come down to us:
Stanton The Chapel being too small, we held the love-feast in + the field ---- a procession was formed, when such a mass of people I never saw before at such an hour, went in glorious order through the village to chapel to hold the prayer meeting. The chapel was instantly filled, large numbers being unable to get in.
+ Mag. 1868
Leek had inherited the extensive moorland work, begun from Ramsor, when it became a separate circuit, and from the earliest entries in the Fountain Street Minutes there are references to "Camp Meetings", "Protracted Meetings,' "Tea Meetings," "Revival Meetings," and "Missions," to be held in Reapsmoor and in Hulme End, Hartington, Hollinsclough, Elkstone, Wetton and Butterton. At this time there must have been high hopes of establishing permanent bethels in all these villages. Indeed land was purchased at Wetton and the Minutes record that steps were taken for building a chapel, but nothing more was heard of it. If few P.M. Chapels were ultimately built in the moorland area there was indeed plenty of activity - it was a period of great works end it is significant that an independent society should have survived at Reapsmoor when there was such a powerful one nearby at Hulme End. In addition there was a Wesleyan Chapel at Rewlach (spelt Rewlatch in old Wesleyan Minutes and Deeds). Mrs. L Lowe, a long-standing member there, recalls that Reapsmoor's was called "The Top Chapel" to distinguish it from Rewlatch's. The following quotations illustrate the great activity in the 1870s;
June, 1872 That Elkstone be opened September 8th by Mr. Clowes of Manchester.
"That Elstone come on the plan next year." March, 1867 +
Like the other societies discussed in this paper, Elkstone had first been visited by Primitive Methodist preachers from Ramsor, the second circuit, of the connexion, early in the 19th Century. This circuit knew the same opposition faced by Primitive Methodists generally in its early days, as the early Wesleyans had suffered in the previous century.
Primitive Methodism was also associated with working-class movements and in its turn accused of upsetting order and disturbing the peace. The clergy were prominent too in opposition to the "Primitives" as we see in the following report from Swinscoe, one of the earliest Ramsor societies, at about the time Elkstone first came on the regular plan. Maurice Nicholas wrote to the editor of the Primitive Methodist Magazine of "The work of God in the Ramsor Circuit":
"Having been favoured with some blessed manifestations of + Divine Power in the conversion of sinners, I thought that it would be well to comply with your request for Revival Intelligence. During summer quarter several large camp meetings have been held. At Swinscoe, the devil and the parson have, and still are doing, all they can to stop the good work, but it is still spreading. Through the influence of the clergyman, two of the farmers have notice to leave their farms on account of attending the chapel. The stroke is heavy, but they are determined to stand their ground. If God be for them, who can be against them?"
+ Mag 1868
Primitive Methodism in the Leek Moorlands copyright Mr. W.H. Simcock
Used by kind permission