A Brief History of Circuits that Evolved into Dane and Trent
By 1746 John Wesley had divided his growing number of societies into seven circuits or "rounds". That year, Astbury (adjacent to Congleton) was taken into John Bennet's Round, which included societies in Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Lancashire. By 1752 the Cheshire societies became part of the Manchester Circuit. As further expansion took place, circuits were divided and subdivided and, in 1770, Congleton became part of the Macclesfield Circuit, in 1803 becoming itself the head of an extensive circuit. From 1809, this also took in Biddulph in north Staffordshire, situated less than 5 miles away from Congleton, to the south east.
The first English 'camp meeting' (open air service), held on Mow Cop on 31st May, 1807, was part of a chain of events which, at a meeting in Tunstall (Stoke on Trent) in 1812, led to the formal constitution of a separate 'Primitive' Methodist denomination and their first circuit, based on Tunstall. Congleton had its own Primitive Methodist Circuit from 1838 and Biddulph [at that time known as Bradley Green] from 1878.
Notwithstanding the union of the three main strands of Methodism in 1932, the circuits remained as they were until 1969, when they were rearranged into two new circuits. These were
(a) The Biddulph and Mow Cop Circuit, which incorporated the Biddulph Circuit and those churches from the two Congleton circuits situated nearer to Biddulph, plus
(b) The Congleton Circuit, comprising those churches from the two existing Congleton circuits situated nearer to Congleton than Biddulph.
In 2009, the Congleton and Biddulph Circuits joined to form the Mow Cop, Biddulph and Congleton Circuit. Then in 2011 the Mow Cop, Biddulph and Congleton Circuit and the Middlewich Circuit joined to form the Dane and Trent Circuit.