History - Meeting Houses

Brief histories of the meeting houses  Return to primary History page 

 

The following notes are based on “The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain, volume 1” by David Butler, published by Friends Historical Society 1999, which includes much additional information about many of the meeting houses, with illustrations.

 

 

CORNWALL

 

Budock  Sparman in the parish of Budock, two miles from Falmouth. Meeting discontinued 1688.

 

Callington  Meeting from 1689. Meeting house in Well St by 1722. Closed before 1800.

 

Camborne  Meeting place acquired 1834 – a room, probably rented. Registered for worship in 1854, discontinued 1862.

 

Come-to-Good near Feock  From 1653 Friends used Walter Stephen’s house in Feock (still standing in 1999). His son John then allowed them to use a building in poor repair at Come-to-Good until 1710, when the new building opened, was discontinued 1795, re-opened 1815-1821, and again in 1946.

 

Falmouth  The first meeting was at the house of Francis Hodge, then a house was leased from 1667 to 1698, then Friends met in Thomas Gwin’s house.In about 1701 a new meeting house was built in Market St (north end?), but converted to a dwelling in 1803 – when the new Cocks Garden meeting house was opened (between New St, Gylling St and Quay Hill). It was rebuilt on the same site in 1873, sold 1969 though used until 1988, when the meeting moved to a room in Bank House.

 

Lands End  The first meetings were at the farms of John Ellis and Nicholas José (Treave and Trevorian, a mile apart).In 1683 there was a meeting house at Treefe, but the meeting moved to a meeting house at Trevorian in 1687-8, then Treave in 1694. A new meeting house opened there in 1740, closed between 1790 and 1800.

 

Looe  Friends met on the rocks and beaches in 1670 to avoid fines. A meeting house was built in East Looe in 1718, discontinued in 1856.

 

Marazion  Friends first travelled to Lands End meeting, then met at John Taylor’s house. Meeting house opened in 1688. The meeting alternated with Penzance 1800-1841, then discontinued, re-opened informally in 1918, became regular in 1944.

 

Mevagissey  Meeting house closed in 1815

 

Penryn  Meeting house probably at Roskrow in 1676, then in rented places from 1731, discontinued 1821.

 

Penzance  Meeting place acquired 1723, then another in 1777, location unknown. The third from 1845-1876 was halfway up the east side of Causeway Head.

 

Port Isaac  A meeting place was used from 1702 to 1818.

 

Redruth  Thomas Freeman’s house was registered in 1734, another in West End in 1763, another in 1790. A new meeting house was built in 1814 in Church Lane to seat 300, the meeting left in 1966 to meet in Murdoch House until 1988.

 

St Austell  The first meeting house was c.1690 in Workhouse Lane (Morland Road), superseded 1726 by one near the police station in High Cross Street, sold in 1828. In 1829 a new site was bought in High Cross St and a new meeting house built there.

 

St Keverne  Abuilding was used by Friends until 1702.

 

St Miniver  A meeting was established before 1680 and a meeting house built 1690 on the road to Polzeath. Discontinued before 1800.

 

Tideford  Meeting house c.1813 or 1833, meeting closed 1861. The meeting house was the Methodist schoolroom in 1999.

 

Truro  In 1670 Friends met upstairs in the house of Edmund Hinckes, whitesmith. Another place was rented from 1704 and the meeting closed in 1809. A new meeting house was built in 1825.

 

Wadebridge?

 


DEVON

 

Aveton Gifford  There is a 1684 reference to a ‘Friends meeting house’ at Auten (Aveton Gifford).


Barliscombe (near Exeter)  “The meeting house seized by direction of the justices” in 1753.


Barnstaple  In 1828 a meeting was established by William Baker and others – ran until 1859. It was revived in 1940 and a shop in Bear St was converted in 1946, then a house (Fernleigh) was bought in 1976. A new house in Newport Rd was bought in 1893.


Bideford  A house near the town centre was bought in 1997.


Cullompton  A cottage and garden were bought in 1676 and the site used until the meeting was discontinued in 1819.


Exeter  After using hired rooms for some years Friends rented a meeting house in 1688 but it was too small and in 1690 land was bought in Waynard’s Lane and a meeting house built.In 1836 a central site was bought on Friar’s Walk and a new meeting house built, but the financial burden was too great, so the 1690 site was bought back in 1874 and the present meeting house erected.


Kingsbridge  There was a meeting place earlier, but in 1697 land in Fore St was bought and a meeting house erected in 1703, discontinued in 1871.


Membury  A meeting existed from c.1676 and by 1698 was in a cob and thatch building. It had declined by 1705.


Modbury  Meeting house acquired 1799, meeting discontinued in 1858.


Okehampton  The meeting was first mentioned in 1696. A new meeting house was acquired in 1738 but was the manse of the Independent minister by 1882 (see The Friend 1882, 11).


Plymouth  A cottage was rented from John Harris c.1660, near Sussex Street. Two houses on Treville St, leased in 1675, demolished 1802 and a new meeting house on the same site opened in 1804. In 1883 it was rebuilt and extended, but Friends left it in 1916. In 1890 a new meeting house was opened at Mutley and a recognized meeting opened there in 1896.


Spiceland  Although in Devon, the meeting is in Somerset MM.Land was bought by Robert Ford for a meeting house in 1679 – it was then on the main road between Taunton and Exeter. The meeting house was taken down in 1815 and a new meeting house built in its place.


Tavistock  A meeting was settled in the town by 1702 and continued to 1785. In 1823 a new meeting was settled and a meeting house built in Dolvin Road in 1835, surrendered to the Duke of Bedford (the leaseholder) in 1876, then demolished. The meeting revived in 1951 for a time and then again in 1975, at Canal Road.

 

Topsham  From 1668 Friends met at the house of Simon and Ann Morris, then elsewhere. In 1712 they bought land and a meeting house opened in 1715. The meeting ceased in 1798.

Torquay  From 1840 meetings were held in rented rooms on The Strand and by 1851 in St John’s Place. In 1853 a site in Warren Rd was leased and a meeting house opened in 1856. It was sold in 1948 and the meeting continued in temporary accommodation. In 1955 Tor Hill Lodge was bought (see The Friend 1955, 638).

Totnes  A meeting was first held in 1668, then later at Chudleigh until 1703. A new meeting was settled in 1967. A meeting house in Ticklemore St opened in 1986.

 

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