Christ Church, Salford, Bible Christian

Christ Church,
King Street,



The church has/had a graveyard.

Offered free burials to the poor so there were a large number of burials for person who were not members.  The founder, William Cowherd, was buried there 24 March 1816, aged 56.


Church History

It was founded in 1800 but but the building was not completed until 1809. It closed in 1868 when they moved to Cross Lane.

Also known as Cowherd's Chapel and the "Beef Steak" Chapel.

The Bible Christians were a branch of the Swedenborgians (New Jerusalem Church). A noteworthy member and minister was Joseph Brotherton, a local cotton spinner, who was the first member of Parliament for Salford, 1832 to 1857. A statue of him was erected in Peel Park in 1858.

Christ Church, King Street, Salford. - Fifty years ago the late Mr. Joseph Brotherton was the minister of this chapel, his house being at that time in Oldfield Road, eight doors from the Oldfield Road doctor. Amongst Swedenborg's earliest disciples were the Rev. John Clowes, rector of St. John's (before referred to), and his curate, the Rev. William Cowherd The former, as is well known, never left the Church of England, but the latter decided to cast in his lot with the followers of Swedenborg in forming a new church. Cowherd laid the foundation of the New Jerusalem Church in Yates Street (now called Peter Street) in 1792. After preaching there some time differences arose amongst his congregation as to forms of church government and other matters, and in 1800 he built, at his own expense, the above-mentioned chapel, the roof of which fell in in less than five years. He was a man of considerable powers as a preacher, of scholarly habits, and extensive reading. He demanded, as a condition of membership, abstinence from flesh meat and intoxicating beverages, but many of his adherents did not accept this part of his creed. The nickname of "Beefsteak Chapel" was frequently applied to the chapel in former days. In connection with it Cowherd had a large and commodious school, capable of accommodating one hundred boarders. He died in 1816, aged fifty-seven, and on his tombstone was inscribed at his own request the words, "All feared, none loved, few understood" Joseph Brotherton, who was originally a cotton spinner and manufacturer, though the recognised minister of this chapel, never assumed the title of Rev., and in one of the two directories of the period of which we are speaking he is styled "gentleman." For twenty years he represented Salford in Parliament, and was ever an active and earnest worker in the accomplishment of the various social reforms which marked the first half of the present century. In 1868 the old chapel in King Street was relinquished, and in its place a new one was opened in Cross Lane, Salford, of which the present minister is the Rev. James Clarke. . There were two other places of worship in Manchester in 1829 also called Christ Church - one in Christ Church Square, Hulme, near the Cavalry Barracks and the other in Every Street, Ancoats. The earliest of the two chapels was the one in Hulme, at which in 1815 the Rev. J. Clarke was minister. He was succeeded by the Rev J. Schofield, or, as his name was sometimes spelt, Scholefield, who was the minister in 1820. After him the Rev. T. B. Strettels was appointed; and after him the Rev. J. Gaskell, who became its minister about the time we are speaking of. Mr. Gaskell retained the post many years, and became one of the guardians of the Chorlton Union On the building of Every Street Chapel, somewhere about 1823, Mr. Schofield was appointed its minister. He became a popular quack doctor and a notorious Chartist, being a great friend of Henry Hunt, to whom a monument is erected in the burial ground connected with the chapeL Reference has been made to him previously.

Although Cowherd, the founder of Christ Church, had embraced the doctrines of Swedenborg, the three chapels just named have not been regarded as strictly Sweden- borgian. The members of that body designate their chapels "New Jerusalem Chapels," of which there were two in 1829 - one in Peter Street, opened in 1793; and one in Bolton Street, Salford, opened in 1813 - which remain without addition to the present day. If one may judge from this, no increase has taken place in the body during that time. In 1802 the Rev. R. Jones became the minister of Peter Street Chapel, and remained so till his death, in 1832. I was once in the chapel, and heard the Rev. J. H. Smithson preach on the resurrection of the body. I was also once in Bolton Street Chapel, having been attracted by the announcement of the subject of the discourse. Over the door was the inscription Nunc Itcet words which Swedenborg said he saw written over a gate in the spiritual world, signifying that now it was allowable to enter into the mysteries of faith. As Mr. Hindmarsh, a former minister of this chapel, and Cowherd differed on the subject of vegetarian practice, the inscription was said to mean that it is allowable to eat flesh meat. Hence, the term "Beefsteak Chapel," which was sometimes jocularly applied to the old King Street Chapel, was a sarcastic nickname originally given to the Bolton Street one. The minister in 1829 was the Rev. D. Howarth, who succeeded the Rev. R. HindmarsL

Reminiscences of Manchester fifty years ago, by J. T. Slugg. 1881

Clowes had a curate named William Cowherd a strange fellow indeed, as erratic as overbearing. From Clowes ho broke loose, and set up an independent society in Salford, with a code of doctrine only slightly Swedenborgian, full of odd notions, and with abstinence from animal food and intoxicating drinks as a condition of membership. I may add the society still survives in Salford perhaps the smallest sect in England. Joseph Brotherton, long M.P. for the borough, belonged to it, and was for years its minister.

Cowherd proposed to establish a printing-office for the production of cheap editions of Swedenborg's works, and applied to Hindmarsh for his practical assistance. The broken-down stockjobber went to his aid in 1811, but it soon became plain that they could not draw together. To a thorough-bred Cockney like Hindmarsh, a man who thought beef and beer wicked was an object of constant offence. True, Swedenborg was a vegetarian, but he being "the Lord's servant" was no rule for common people. After a short and irritating connection. Cowherd and Hindmarsh parted. Cowherd died in 1813 in his 57th year a victim, Hindmarsh fondly believed, to his awful delusion about beef and beer. On his tomb, by his own direction was inscribed -


Clowes made many Swedenborgians, but he could not restrain them from dissent. A party begged Hindmarsh to remain in Manchester and preach to them. He was very unwilling: as he writes, "For a considerable time I declined the proposal, having no desire whatever, but on the contrary an almost insuperable reluctance at my age (being then in my 52nd year), to undertake the office of a Preacher."* At last his aversion was overcome; a "New Jerusalem Temple" was built for him in Salford and opened in 1813. On the front of the building was inscribed Nunc Licet words which Swedenborg saw written over a gate in the Spiritual World, signifying, that now it was allowable to enter intellectually into the mysteries of faith.* Such an explanation of the legend could never occur to the passers-by; the Salford folk said it meant, "Now it is lawful to eat meat;" and the holy place became vulgarly known as "the Beef-steak Chapel."

There Hindmarsh ministered until 1824, when he retired from regular public duty. He employed his latter years in writing a history of the New Jerusalem Church, which owed to him its being. He died in 1835 at Gravesend, aged 76.

Of Swedenborg's higher philosophy, Hindmarsh had no appreciation I might almost say, no knowledge. He merely prolonged Swedenborg's ignoble and ineffectual wrangle with Protestantism in its most debased forms.

Emanuel Swedenborg : his life and writings, William M White

The Cross Lane chapel was located

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It was located at SJ8143098327 (Lat/Lon 53.481332, -2.281291). You can see this on maps provided by:

It was located at SJ8350998903 (Lat/Lon 53.486579, -2.249994). You can see this on maps provided by: