In 1810 revival meetings at Mow Cop in Staffordshire resulted in the establishment of the Primitive Methodists who in part were attempting to get back to the simplicity of the early Methodists and maintain the evangelistic traditions and focus.
Hugh Bourne and William Clowes were prominent leaders in this movement. The ‘prims’ attracted working class adherents with their simple, plain design of their chapels and their direct, spontaneous and passionate worship. They were often called ‘Ranters’ due to their more charismatic style. They were keen temperance advocates and involved in many social reform programmes.
Primitive Methodists created their own circuits and built chapels. In 1822 a Middleham circuit was established with 12 Sunday Schools and 20 meetings in cottages. The first chapel was built in Cotterdale by 1836. By 1870 a Primitive Methodist Society existed in Hawes and chapels were built in Askrigg – Moor road (1869), Sedbusk (1875), Bowbridge and the ‘Prims’ were using the Quaker meeting house at Countersett. And chapels opened in Dent (1840), Garsdale Street (1841) and Deepdale (1889)
In the early 1830’s, Cotterdale was known as a ‘rough’ place. Lord Wharncliffe who owned the estate had to emloy four gamekeepers to keep the poaching down. A Primitive Methodist preacher – possibly William Clowes from Burslem, travelling to or from Kendal felt he should go into the dale but was warned not to. He went in regardless and conducted an outdoor service. A number were converted – the beginning of the revival. Following this local men built the chapel on land given by Lord Wharncliffe who also subsequently only employed one gamekeeper because of the ‘change of heart’ of the local people.
[Related by Bill Phatt from Kendal – a local preacher himself who had relatives living in Cotterdale]
The chapel opened in 1836 and at one point had 40 members.
The record of Ralph Metcalf (1804 – 1838) whose family moved from Lunds to farm in Cotterdale
Ralph became regular in his attendance upon the Primitive Methodist’s means of grace; but continued a stranger to saving religion until the beginning of the year 1836, when, by the goodness of the Lord, a blessed revival of religion broke out, and affected nearly the whole of the inhabitants in the dale.
The work first appeared at a class-meeting held in my father’s house, when my brother William was suddenly and unexpectedly brought into gospel liberty. And from that time it began inwardly to work like fire in the bowels of proper materials.
And in about three weeks the Lord broke in upon the assembled congregation.
That divine influence which had been working inwardly burst into a visible flame.
The greater part of the congregation were arrested by the power of conviction, and a cry for mercy followed; and it seemed as if the answer to so many faithful prayers could no longer be delayed.
The following Thursday Brother North, the superintendent preacher, on some account not coming to his appointment I had to supply for him.
And that night several penitents found liberty; and the good work proceeded till our seven members were increased to upwards of forty; most of whom were made happy in the prayer meetings, which were then held every night; and which sometimes did not break up till morning.
Our praying company being greatly enlarged, and filled with love to God and man, could not contain themselves within their own place, but went forth into a neighbourhood called Mossdale, where the work broke out, and a society of eight or nine members was raised.
Memoir of Ralph Metcalf – My Primitive Methodists
It is interesting to note that Cotterdale was a haven for 6 Catholic families who were avoiding persecution during the reign of Elizabeth I
Bowbridge revival (Low Abbotside Primitive Methodist Chapel)
In 1918 Rev Dr Scurrah spoke of his memories from 50 years previously in 1868 when the chapel had over 100 members following an 8 week mission led by William Handley.
‘He, with others, had formed a mission band, and walked miles to proclaim Christ. They were eager to promote the work of God, and realised great success.’
For years following, The Bowbridge Society continued to be under the influence of that gracious revival.
The present building built was built 1908 and closed closed in 1962. It is now a private house.
Hawes Junction (Originally – Mount Zion)
The original location of the church was in house next to Moorcock. There were a large number of locals living in a ‘shanty town’ for the railway construction. Local Methodists were significant providers of welfare for railway workers. The railway opened in May 1876 and the Midland railway company built the present Chapel. Reuban Alton – converted at Bainbridge revival – laid foundation stone for the chapel. There were 15 – 20 members originally and the chapel was part of the Middleham circuit and then later from 1885, the Dent circuit.
A significant preacher and evangelist at this time was Dick Atkinson – a local gamekeeper living in Grisedale. He died aged 40 in 1880. The Wesleyan Chapel in Grisedale was built 1889 in memory
A revival at Hawes Junction in 1882 saw the chapel with 60 members (35 new members).
The Methodist Union of 1932 saw the Wesleyan and Primitive circuits joined, though in some parts of the country, including East Yorkshire, a small number of Primitive Methodists ‘continued’ in their own right.
Some of the history of the Primitive Methodist (Continuing) Church can viewed HERE. The writer of this page grew up attending Redbourne Street Primitive Methodist Church in Hull referred to in this article.
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12th C Aysgarth and Askrigg churches built
1145 Jervaulx abbey established first at Fors, Bowbridge near Askrigg. 10 years later moved to present site near East Witton
1202 Knights Templars build preceptory south of Temple Farm (Penhill)
1483 First priest appointed in Hawes (Roman Catholic)
1517 Luther posts 95 Thesis on church door in Wittenberg – ‘start’ of the protestant reformation
1534 Henry VIII ‘established’ Church of England and started the dissolution of the monasteries
1620 Probable existence of original ‘chapel’ in Hawes (on site of present Parish Church)
1652 George Fox (Quakers) preached near Sedbergh
1658 Savoy declaration (Congregationalism)
1662 ‘final revision’ of Church of England Prayer Book
Congregational church built in Ravenstonedale
1689 Toleration Act passed in parliament giving freedom of worship (to independants)
Quakers meeting ‘freely’ in Bainbridge
1691 Smarber congregational chapel built in Swaledale
18th C Early Congregational churches built in the dales
1735 Benjamin Ingham travels to America with the Wesleys – first encounter with the Moravians
1738 Methodist movement begins – John Wesley at Aldersgate
1750’s Inghamite Chapel built in Gayle (became Sandemanian Chapel shortly afterwards)
Evangelical revival (1750 – 1815)
1765 Methodist minister appointed in Middleham
1810 Primitive Methodists meet on Mow Cop Staffordshire
1833 Gayle Methodist Chapel Built
1836 Primitive Methodist Chapel built in Cotterdale
Baptist Chapel in Thornton Rust
1851 Hawes Congregational chapel built (Bethel)
Hawes New Parish Church built (St Margaret’s) – within one year
1856 Hawes Methodist Chapel Built (rebuilt 1913)
1874 Primitive Methodist Chapel built in Sedbusk
1932 Methodist Union – Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists United
1972 United Reform Church formed between the Congregationalists and Presbyterians
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Early Faith in the Dales – Mike Hirst