History of New MillstopmenuViews of New MillstopmenuOld New Mills & HayfieldtopmenuNew Mills PlaquestopmenuNew Mills Achimedes ScrewtopmenuArchaeology at Torr MilltopmenuStrange Stones of Kinder ScouttopmenuArchimedes Screw New Mills
Chapel Histories
Dates represent the date of publication, so the histories are only to that date.


It was in the early days of the movement that the seed was sown at Bradwell by the Revs. Jeremiah Gilbert and James Ingram.
In fact, Mr. Ingram missioned Bradwell and lived there in the year 1821, and that place thus became the metropolis of Primitive Methodism in the Peak. Mr. Ingram was father of the late Mr. Mark Ingram and his grandchildren are to-day respected residents of New Mills. In the year 1823 Bradwell was the head of a circuit embracing 50 preaching places, covering the whole of the High Peak, including New Mills Glossop and Hayfield, and various Cheshire villages:- Disley, Marple, Kettleshulme, Whaley, Mottram and Tintwistle. At this time the only chapel for this unwieldy circuit was at Bradwell, services at all the other places being held in barns and cottages, for these were the days of the missions.
The first society class in this district was held in the cottage of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Cooper, at Thornsett, and there it was that the church here had its origin, in 1821. When Jeremiah Gilbert came to mission New Mills Mr. Steele had commenced a Sunday School in a room over the pawnshop, (the gentleman who was the principal factor in building the Independent Chapel) and wishing to hold a religious service in High Street he asked Mr. Steele to allow some of his young people to assist him in the singing. He consented, and Thomas Hawkyard's waggon was extemporised as a pulpit. Among those young people at that just service was Alice Stansfield. Daughter of Edmund Stansfield, of Staley Wood Gate, who having carried stone out of the Torrs night after night after leaving the factory, to build the Independent Chapel, joined the little cause at Thornsett led by Thomas Taylor, and in 1824, when a society was formed at Hayfield, she walked to and from that place to have the oversight of it. Subsequently she married Thomas Cooper, and when she died in 1883 had been a member 60 years. The Rev. James Ingham left the itinerancy at Bradwell and came to reside in New Mills, where he was the main prop of the society and a local preacher and class leader all his life. The chapel contains a handsome memorial of him. It was in the latter part of the year 1826 that New Mills became a circuit, including the Glossop and Marple districts, with Thomas Blaides and John Bryant as the ministers, and in the following year the chapel in Meal Street was built. The only Primitive Methodist Chapel for many miles, it was considered a fine building. But it was a remarkable place. It cost £610, and on the first floor lived the chapel-keeper, on the second floor lived the minister, and on the top floor, entering from Meal Street, was the chapel. Thomas Ellison was one who as a little lad followed the new sect up and down the streets until they took him in and he became a prominent man, local preacher, class leader, steward, and everything else. He (died a few years ago at a ripe old age. James Bradbury was another who as a little boy joined the sect and remained with them all his life. More than fifty years ago he was the leading singer, and composed the hymn " I'll away to the Sabbath School."
Still another veteran was Levi Wyatt, who was one of the first to go to the old chapel and school when they were first built. These were the days of small things. The staunch ones had to sweep and clean the chapel for nothing, because they had nothing to pay with. When there was a debt of about £450 on the building.
The trustees could not sleep in their beds for fear of the bailiffs, and when there was only £200 remaining, one of the trustees wished the chapel to be sold, lest he should get into trouble. William Thatcher, Samuel Lomas, Joseph Cooper, Levi Wyatt, J. Turner, Robert France, James Taylor, Mark Ingham, Joseph Lomax, George Poole, Emanuel Wharmby, James Pollard, Abraham Mellor, Andrew Shaw, Henry Salisbury and many others are amongst those who have passed away, but whose works at this place will follow them. Robert France, it may be remembered was a regular minister, and in 1832 when stationed at New Mills, retired from the ministry and commenced business at Thornsett. His old house there is still known as "France's Farm." But Rowarth is the place where the first society class was established in this locality. There were several mills working there in those days, and one was worked by Mr. John Hadfield. The Rev. Christopher Hallam, who was the second minister in the New Mills circuit in 1835, married Miss M. Hadfield. of Anderton House, Rowarth, and services were held there for very many years. Miss Hadfield herself was one of the early preacheresses and as Mrs. C. Hallam, conducted Anniversary Services at New Mills down to 1860.
" Tommy '' Ellison was a jovial soul, a Primitive Methodist of the old type. He could tell about going to Bugsworth before the old chapel in that village was built, when services were held in the large room over the " Bulls Head." More than seventy years ago he was one of six or eight from New Mills who were going to Whaley Bridge Sermons, and hearing that the great Hugh Bourne was preaching at Bugsworth, when they got to the swing bridge they decided to go to Bugsworth Chapel. When they arrived there it was to find that there was no preacher at all, and the result was that Thomas Ellison preached his first sermon that day at Bugsworth.
It was in 1876, when the Rev. Wm. Goodman was minister in the circuit, that the present handsome chapel and school were built on Spring Bank. The premises were opened on the first Sunday in December of that year, the exact cost being £2,792 13s. 10d. When everything was balanced up after the opening serviced, the trustees were £1,166 in debt, but it was reduced £50 a year for many years, until almost liquidated; and not long ago a beautiful organ was placed in the building, half the cost of which-through the events of the Rev. Joseph Yearsley-was given by Mr. Carnegie. The cause has been attended by remarkable progress and the premises are an ornament to the town.


In the early days of the movement in New Mills its members had great difficulties to encounter.
It is something like eighty years since the " split '' in the Wesleyan body, when a portion of its members left and followed the leadership of the Rev. Thomas Warren -hence the term "Warrenites'' -and formed a denomination of their own, apart from the Wesleyans. Some of these remained in the newly formed body, but others returned to their original place. However, a small society was established, but their numbers were few, and the erection of a chapel was out of the question. Services were held in a room over the late Joseph Wyatt's blacksmiths shop on Spring Bank, now Mr. John Higginbottom's store room, and in the same small room a Sunday School was conducted. The little society increased, and soon the room was quite inadequate to accommodate those who wished to attend the services.
The great, question was, how was the difficulty to be surmounted ? The erection of a new building would entail serious expense, and where the funds were to come from none seemed to know. At last, however, a good idea was hit upon by the faithful few, and no sooner said than done. It was considered that if a building could be erected with cottages on the ground floor, the rents of the cottages could go towards meeting the expenditure. A plot of land was secured and a lease entered into, but such was the difficulty in raising the necessary funds that the concern was taken up in shares, value from £1 to £10, some taking up more and others less, according to their ability.
Large sums had to be raised on loan, the interest of which was paid out of the cottage rents. However, in the course of time the chapel was completed, and was opened in the year 1838, the total cost, including the cottages, being £700. Amongst the founders were John Beard, shopkeeper (grandfather of Messrs. James and John Thomas Wharmby); Joseph Beard, shopkeeper, Thornsett; George Shepley, who had a small spinning concern at Torr Top; Thomas Waller, sen., the Mellor mill owner; Joseph Wright, plumber; Henry Mason, a machine broker, of Torr Top; and Robert Collier, printer, who was a prominent Wesleyan all his life. The chapel was built by Thomas Cheetham and Thomas Berry, and owing to the difficulty experienced in raising the money it was opened for service long before it was completed. In one of the cottages there resided the Rev. William Ince, who was the first circuit minister, in 1837 and 1838, prior to which New Mills was in the Macclesfield circuit. In course of time two more cottages were constructed, making six houses beneath the chapel.
Many years passed before a proper Trust Deed was executed, when the following were the trustees: Thomas Hadfield, James Middleton, James Kirkham, James Richardson (still living), Joseph Beard, Thornsett; Robert Turner, Hayfield; John Smith, Furness
Vale; Richard Abercrombie, who became an itinerant minister; Samuel Coe, manager of Gnat Hole; John Wharmby, and John Beard, who built Rose Villas. In course of time the Sunday School and congregation increased to such an extent that the cottages had to be given up, and the floor space utilised as a Sunday School; and although when the trust above-mentioned was formed £530 remained as a debt, this was gradually liquidated, and from time to time various improvements were made at a cost of several hundred pounds, including the complete renovation of the interior and the addition of an organ chamber and organ.
The last Sunday in February 1892, is memorable as the closing day of the old chapel that had done duty for 54 years, a new building on the same site having been decided upon. There have been many good men connected with the place, besides those whose names have been already mentioned including Thomas Beard, Randall Hibbert, James Barnes, John Richardson, James Richardson, Samuel Ryley, John Hewitt, Samuel Rendell, and many others. The ministers who have "travelled'' in the circuit during the last seventy years are William Ince, Thomas Morris, Joseph Townend, John Guttridge, E. Whatmough, Neriah Pearson, James Carveth, Robert Harley, Samuel Sellars, Benjamin Glazebrook, Richard Abercrombie, George Robinson, Joseph Walker, Edwin Bailey, J. G. Hartley, J. Colclough, George Sarvent, Wm. Edmondson, R. D. Maude, Henry Scragg, Samuel Sellars, sen., William Dawson. Wm. Yates, John Collinge, Thomas Cooper, W. H. C. Harris, John Barningham, Thomas Rothwell, John Boughey, George Hudson, Charles R. Ramshawe, Henry Fothergill, J. S. Rendell, Wm. Lee Roberts, James Barker, W. G. Jolly, W. S. Micklethwaite, and W. Reed.
When a new chapel and School were first considered it was decided to have £1000 in hand before work was commenced, and this was rigidly adhered to throughout ten years' hard work. It was in June. 1891, when the ceremony of cutting the first sod took place,
Messrs. Henry Turner Samuel Ryley, J. T. Wharmby, and George Potts being thus honoured. It was during the ministry of that saintly man, the Rev. J. S. Rendell. The excavating was done gratis by the young men of the place, who thus saved £94, and the foundation stones of the present handsome buildings were laid on May 21st, 1892, by Mr. J. F. Cheetham, J.P., C.C., a former M.P. for the division, who gave £20; Mr. Joseph Arnfield, J.P., of High Lea Hall, £30; Mr. James Wharmby, £20; and Mr. Henry Turner, £20. Mr. George E. Balshaw, of Southport and Crewe, was the architect, and the contractors were: masons' work, Mr. T. W. Stafford, £1030; joiners' work, Mr. Charles Barker, £723; plumbing and glazing, Mr. Jesse Wild, £140; plastering and slating, Mr. Thomas Chatterton, £190; painting. Messrs. George and James Howard, £34. The total cost wits about £2500, more than half having been raised when the premises were opened in March, 1893. Remarkable success has attended the steady efforts to reduce the debt, which is now but small, and the friends at Mount Pleasant are owners of premises that are a credit to the cause and an ornament to the town.

A newspaper report records details of the ceremony surrounding the laying of the foundation stones. Following a parade of bands and Sunday school pupils around New Mills and Newtown a large crowd assembled to witness the ceremonial laying of the stones.
Mr J. Buckley, presented to Mr. J. F. Cheetham a silver trowel with which to lay the first stone. A bottle was placed in a cavity beneath the stone containing that days Manchester Courier, Manchester Guardian, North Cheshire Herald and the Independent. Mr Cheetham having duly laid the stone and delivered a speech.
Mr. John Beard presented to Councillor Joseph Arnfield with a trowel to lay the next stone adding that he hoped he would esteem it as a reminder of that day. Mr. Arnfield replied that he should always look upon that trowel with the deepest interest, and no doubt it would be treasured by his family. Beneath the stone laid by Mr. Arnfield, a bottle was placed containing the Reporter, Advertiser, Methodist Recorder, and Methodist Times.
Mr. Joseph Hyde, in presenting Mr. Jas. Wharmby, of Market street with a trowel, said Mr Wharmby had long been connected with the Sunday School, and his father and grandfather, old John Beard, were connected with the old place. Mr. Rendell, said that the bottle to be placed beneath that stone was the most interesting of all. When the old building was pulled down, he and Mr. Stafford found the bottle placed under a stone. The documents were damp and so rather than tear them they broke the bottle, and placed the fragments inside another bottle, as they saw. The old documents showed that the foundation stone they had lain under was laid on the 4th June 1838, by Mr. Thomas Waller, of Mellor. The old coins found in the bottle had been replaced, also a notice announcing the closing service of the old chapel, a circuit plan, a notice saying the School Board had granted the use of their premises for services during the rebuilding, the Primitive Methodist newspaper, a missionary report and a circular announcing the last anniversary.
Mr. James Froggatt of Bridge street presented to Mr. Henry Turner, a trowel with which to lay the fourth stone.
The fourth bottle, Mr. Rendell declared contained a bill announcing that days proceedings, and a circular, a band of hope report of the Sunday School, Sunday School teacher and officers names, trustees and committee, the latest funerals, namely Mrs. Turner and Mrs. Wharmby, Sunday School circular, newspapers and coins.
Having laid the stone Mr. Henry Turner said, he had been connected with the Sunday School from his early days, and if he had time there was a good deal he could tell. He added that he had never regretted the day he first attended.


It was in the year 1823, when the Independent Chapel was built, and it has a most interesting history, It is on record that a, Mr. Steele, who was an employer of labour and the owner of a factory in the town, who was an ardent Independent, gathered about him a number of his workpeople, and so formed a small community of worshippers.
As time advanced the erection of a Chapel was decided upon, and land was secured. But there was little money in those days, and to save expense Steele and his followers built the Chapel themselves, and actually excavated and carried the stones from the riverside. But when the Chapel was built, " Steele's Chapel '' as it was then known- it was much too big for the company, and a portion of it was for a long time used as a barn and let to a farmer for storing hay and implements.
But soon there were developments. The back part of the building was improvised as a minister's residence, a small salary was guaranteed, which was augmented by Moses Hadfield, Esq., of Shiloh, Mellor, and the first minister was the Rev. Samuel Simon, of Hazel Grove, who for 30 years had the oversight of the Church and Day School and periodically conducted services at Thornsett. About 1860, Frederick Midwood, Esq., came to reside at High Lea and this gentleman, with Mr. John Yates, and Mr. Nathaniel Buckley, all three well-to-do men and hard workers in the cause both Chapel and School took a new lease of life, and eventually the school premises were enlarged, Mr. Simon was granted a retiring pension, the gift of Mr. Midwood and other friends, and the latter gentleman at his own expense engaged an evangelist.
In 1866 the Rev. Francis Clarke became the minister, and remained seven years, during which a gift of the chief rent of the burial ground was obtained and the front wall and entrance gates erected at a cost of £90, defrayed by Mr. James Hibbert, and Mr. Samuel Wild.
The Rev. Joseph Ogle was the next pastor and he was instrumental in erecting side galleries in the chapel and other improvements, which necessitated an outlay of £400 raised by private subscriptions, and the crowning effort of his ministry was the erection of the manse at a cost of £900. In 1879 the Rev. A. Stroyan, of Hyde, came to the pastorate, and Mr. and Mrs. Stroyan laboured unflinchingly for 14 years, during which the old pews were replaced by the present pitch-pine sittings.
The present pastor, the Rev. W. D. Edmondson, came from Silverdale in 1894, and very soon other improvements took place, and in 1900 nearly £400 was spent on much needed improvements to the choir gallery, organ and other alterations.
In both Sunday and Day School work the Independents have ever been active. They carried on a Day School up to the formation of a School Board, and then let their School to the Board until the present Schools on Spring Bank were built. In Sunday School work the late Mr. T. W. Stafford laboured half-a-century, and when the Sunday School beneath the Chapel became inadequate, the late Mr. John Pollitt, an ardent Congregationalist, approached Mrs. Mackie, and that generous lady made a free gift of land on which to build a new School, while Mr. W. Briggs, J.P., of Wakefield, kindly paid the legal costs of transfer. In short, the handsome School was built about two years ago at a cost of more than £1000, and only £300 debt, now remains, all the people connected with the place having contributed most liberally to the movement.

Note - Stafford Street, which runs aside the Chapel, commemorates T. W. Stafford.


The Friends Meeting House at Lowleighton is a plain dignified building set back and half hidden from the road. On the gable end is clearly cut the date 1717, making this the oldest standing building in the town and almost 300 years old.

For many years, Lowleighton was the meeting place in the High Peak, and Friends travelled far to attend, stabling their horses in what is still known as the Quaker Yard. It The Friends Meeting Housewas probably in the person of its founder, George Fox that Quakerism first came to this neighbourhood.
Early in his Journal can be read “About the beginning of the year 1647, I was moved of the Lord to go into Derbyshire, where I met with some friendly people;” and again “Thence we passed into Derbyshire, and travelled over the Peak hills, which were very cold, we came into Cheshire, wherein all the monthly meetings for that county are settled.” Quakerism took firm root among the “Peak Hills” and met the persecution usual at that time. The repressive Conventicle Act against all Dissenters, passed after the Restoration, was still in force.
At Bakewell Quarter Sessions in 1683, Jonathon Boden was fined £20 (a large sum in those days) for teaching and preaching at a Conventicle held at Slack Hall “in the parishe of Chapple in the Fyrthe.” “By reason of the poverty of the said Jonathon Boden.” Five other persons present shared his fine, namely Anthony Boden, Ralph Ridgeway, John Lingard, William Beard and Jonathon Fisher; each of the six paid £3 6s. 8d. The same six were fined a further 5/- each for being present. Thus, Jonathon Boden was fined both for preaching and for being there to hear himself preach.
William Beard had already figured in a list of Recusants for ‘Bowden Chapel’ dated 1682, with the initial Q after his name.
The old minute books of the Meeting House date back to 1685. The earliest documents, on paper yellow with age, and closely covered with the handwriting of the period, are decipherable only with great difficulty. They were transcribed and indexed with loving care by the late Edward Godward, whose name is remembered for his devoted service to education in New Mills. Edward lies buried within the Quaker Graveyard.
The minute books show that at the end of the 17th century Quakerism was thriving over a large area round Lowleighton. There are accounts of regular meetings at Lowleighton (then called Lowloughton), Weathercoats, Pearl Sitch and Slack Hall.
Jonathon Boden (or Bowden) lived at Weathercoates; his marriage in 1667 is recorded in Chapel Parish Registers. The location of Pearl Sitch remains obscure.
The Revolution of 1688 and the Toleration Act bought relief from persecution.
In 1689, a certificate recorded in Chesterfield under this Act enumerates the places mentioned above at which “there is a Meeting House for the people of God called Quakers.”
In the same year, in a list of dwelling houses with owners names, licensed and registered at Derbyshire Quarter sessions as Meeting Houses can be found the entry: Low Loughton, William Beard (Q).
Not many yards from the Meeting, just beyond the Hare and Hounds Hotel is an old house still known as Quaker Cottage. Perhaps the home of William Beard?
One minute of 1696 reads:” it was consented to for our meeting to go from house to house, and then William Beard of Low Loughton did offer that his house should be free for one meeting, three other Friends offering to accommodate the meeting in turn.”
It would be nice to know more of William Beard. No doubt, he belonged to the family, which occupied Beard Hall for centuries. They ranked as gentry, with a pedigree and a coat of arms.

Towards the end of the 16th century, however, the hall was sold by the William Beard of that period, and the family seems soon afterward to have abandoned its status as gentry.
Our William Beard was clearly the leader and benefactor of the Quakers of his time; it was through him that the Meeting Houses came into being at Lowleighton. In 1710, William Beard conveyed by Indenture to Benjamin Bangs, of Stockport, and others the Estate of Lowleighton otherwise Nether Ollersett. The estate included several farms and part of Ollersett Moor. The Meeting House was built in 1717 on part of the estate, under the direction of Benjamin Bangs, and art the expense of Cheshire and Derbyshire Quarterly Meetings. William Beard by Will in 1714 bequeathed Ten Shillings per year to Low Leighton Meeting. This sum is still received annually.
The hamlets of Thornsett, Ollersett, Whitle and Beard appear in medieval records – Thornsett is mentioned in the Domesday Book. But it is not until the 16th century that we find a reference to the New Mill at Beard, and only about 1630 do we find New Milne used as a place name. It stood in the tract of land then known, for administrative purposes, as Bowden Middlecale. Lowleighton thus appears remarkably early in the history of the place that grew around the New Mill. It is by far the oldest place of worship in the town, the next being the first Wesleyan Chapel, built in High Street in 1777. It is fair to say that in 1717 New Mills would be no more than a small village. It is interesting to reflect that the town’s religious pioneers were Quakers.

In the 19th & 20th centuries, the district supported a large number of well-supported religious organisations and teaching establishments.

THE WESLEYAN CHAPEL (St. George’s road)







The religious and educational needs of Hayfield were also well served.







History of New Millsbottom menuViews of New Millsbottom menuOld New Mills & Hayfieldbottom menuNew Mills Plaquesbottom menuNew Mills Achimedes Screwbottom menuArchaeology at Torr Millbottom menuStrange Stones of Kinder Scoutbottom menuArchimedes Screw New Mills