Englesea Brook Museum of Primitive Methodism
The Victorian chapel museum in the picturesque village of Englesea Brook, located in an attractive conservation area near Crewe, epitomises the change and rapid growth in Methodism in the century after John Wesley’s death.
First Methodism split from the Anglican Church. Then internal divisions over doctrine led to several new Methodist movements and new denominations being established. With increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, Methodism flourished and each denomination embarked on chapel building; often resulting in the different denominations building their chapels only a few hundred yards apart in the same town or village.
Englesea Brook Chapel was an early ‘Primitive’ Methodist chapel (1828). Today, it houses the Museum of Primitive Methodism and it is here that the grave of one of founders of the Primitive Methodist movement, Hugh Bourne, is to be found. Brookside Cottage nearby houses the Englesea Brook Primitive Methodist Library with more than 7,000 items, some of them unique to this collection.
In 1807, Hugh Bourne, a Staffordshire wheelwright, organised an open air ‘camp meeting’ after being impressed by accounts of such events in the United States (see page 58). Fearing the revolutionary potential of any movement born in America, the Wesleyan Methodist Conference (the governing body of John Wesley’s Methodists) banned such gatherings and, in the course of the next four years, those Wesleyan Methodists who continued to promote camp meetings were expelled from membership. They went on to join other disaffected revivalists to form the Primitive Methodist Connexion.
At Englesea Brook, the story of Primitive Methodism is traced from these early beginnings through to the Methodist Union in 1932 (when the majority of the Victorian denominations recombined to form today’s Methodist Church in Britain).
Britain’s largest collection of religious banners reveals Primitive Methodism to be a faith that took to the streets and the exhibits also speak of the importance of women preachers, missionary outreach, and the working class identity of many members of the denomination known affectionately as ‘the Prims’.
Additional visitor information
Getting there [SJ751513]