Monday, December 01, 2008
Mist Over Mow Cop
As we left the A34 and drove up the steep incline towards the village of Mow Cop the mist deepened, the air was chill and the trees and hedges glistened white on the roadside and in front gardens. It was magical. We approached the 'castle' and entered the car park, just us and a couple of other hardy souls who were already parked and clambering to the top of the imposing mound.
The ruin was shrouded in mist and the whole vista was so atmospheric. We made our way slowly and gingerly over the frozen grass and eventually reached the top. It was on this hilltop in 1588 that a beacon was erected to give warning of possible invasion by the Spanish Armada, linking lights around the country, between the Wrekin in Shropshire and Alderley Edge in Cheshire.
The ruins, now managed by the National Trust, were once a folly or summer house built by Randle Wilbraham of nearby Rode Hall. He had the mock-gothic castle built in 1754 to enhance the eastern view from his grand house at Scholar Green. From this vantage point on a clear day you can see for miles in all directions to the Berwyn Mountains in Wales, the Shropshire hills and the Peaks of Derbyshire. You can also see quite clearly the huge round saucer of Sir Bernard Lovell's Joddrell Bank.
Yesterday, though, all we could see were the sparkling white trees in the valley and the distant tower of the church; also the unusual garden wall structure of one of the houses under the hill. This is certainly a magical and mystical place. It was here on the 31st May 1807 that Hugh Bourne of Stoke and his friend William Clownes of Burslem ventured, with many like minded people wishing to return to a simpler ways of worship, to form the Primitive Methodist movement. This was to be the first of many mass gatherings on the hill.
At the base of the mound is a stone which commemorates this event. The inscription is as follows:-
"To the Glory of God. A camp meeting near this spot on May 31st 1807, began the religious revival led by Hugh Bourne and William Clowes known as Primitive Methodism. Unveiled by the President of the Methodist Conference May 16th 1948"
As we descended the hill the air had become really cold and dank; people were hurrying back to the car park and the warmth of their cars. It was time to head for home.