Englesea Brook is a village about 3 miles from Junction 16 of the M6 on the Cheshire border. Although so close to the Motorway, Englesea is like another world! There is no pub or shop, but what can be found in the small village of about 30 dwellings, is a rather special Museum. The museum is housed in an old Chapel, which was, and indeed sometimes still is, used for Primitive Methodist worship.
The memorial plaque to Hugh Bourne
The first pulpit, adapted and used by Hugh Bourne
The Primitive Methodist movement began, almost 200 years ago, on a nearby hill called Mow Cop, which marks the boundary between Cheshire and Staffordshire. The leaders of this new movement, namely Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, felt that the Methodism founded by John Wesley had become very staid and respectable so they organised open-air meetings, which did not have the constraints of organised religion.The new movement grew rapidly with its founders travelling extensively- including to Quinton! Bourne College, which stood off Spies Lane on the site now occupied by King's Reach, (some of you know that our home is there and we named our house "Bournelands" to keep the memory of Bourne College alive) was named after Hugh Bourne.) Of course, in time, the new movement became respectable and built its own places of worship like Englesea Brook Chapel and College Road Church in Quinton.
What can you see at the Museum? Well, they have the largest collection of Trade Union and Church banners in the country.
They have artefacts relating to the founding fathers like William Clowes' lantern and Hugh Bourne's walking stick and shoe with an enormous hole as a result of the hundreds of miles he walked on his mission.
Hugh Bourne's boot
Hugh Bourne's Spectacles
They have a Victorian magic lantern show telling the story of Englesea; they have a graveyard where many of the notables of the cause are buried.
Memorial to Hugh Bourne
They have a holiday home that I can thoroughly recommend because I have spent a week there; they have models and a talking head; they have a small shop selling souvenirs; they have one of the most extensive libraries of Primitive Methodism in the world; they have the world's greatest "Prim" historian as curator; and many other things of interest to anyone with a feel for history. As well as appealing to adult visitors, they are doing tremendous work with school parties who come in their droves.
How is all this financed? The honest answer is on a shoestring! Admission to the Museum is free, though donations are welcome. The Methodist Church and Local Authority give grants as they are able, but a lot of the funding comes from the sale of second hand books. Large sales are organised in Cheshire every August Bank Holiday, in York each summer and Birmingham each winter.©QLHS 2005
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