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Spalding Quaker Meeting House

A Grade II Listed Building in Spalding, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7892 / 52°47'20"N

Longitude: -0.1471 / 0°8'49"W

OS Eastings: 525049

OS Northings: 322896

OS Grid: TF250228

Mapcode National: GBR HX9.5MC

Mapcode Global: WHHMM.Q553

Plus Code: 9C4XQVQ3+M5

Entry Name: Spalding Quaker Meeting House

Listing Date: 29 December 1950

Last Amended: 19 August 2020

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1063972

English Heritage Legacy ID: 197286

Location: Spalding Castle, South Holland, Lincolnshire, PE11

County: Lincolnshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Spalding Castle

Built-Up Area: Spalding

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Spalding St Mary and St Nicolas

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Summary


An early-C19 Quaker meeting house altered and extended in the 1960s.

Description

An early-C19 Quaker meeting house altered and extended in the 1960s.

MATERIALS: the 1806 building and later extension are both constructed of brick with a tiled roof.

PLAN: the building is oriented north-west to south-east, with the mid-C20 block located to the south-west. The building is rectangular on plan with the mid-C20 square addition attached to the south-west.

EXTERIOR: the meeting house is accessed via Double Street to the south. This principal façade is of three bays with central pedimented doorway and a window to either side on each floor, with hipped roof and sweeping eaves above. The windows are six-over-six pane sashes with segmental arches and date to the building’s refurbishment in 1965. A date stone of 1806 is located centrally above the entrance doorway with a further stone above reading: ‘RESTORED 1965’. A projecting block to the left (south-west) dates to the mid-C20 and features three further sashes on its east elevation, one at ground floor and two above. This arrangement is also in place on the southern elevation of this projecting block.

The northern elevation is now used as the principal entrance to the newly created flats with the rear of the 1806 range to the left (east). This range fronts directly onto Westlode Street and has a semi-circular window at first-floor level but is otherwise blind. The western elevation of this range has a further sash window with segmental arch. To the right (west) is the 1966 extension of five bays, with three sash windows at ground floor and five above. A small, single-storey flat-roof extension sits at the corner joining the original building and the extension.

INTERIOR: the main meeting house is divided into two spaces, a meeting room to the rear (north) and a space to the front which houses a gallery above and stair hall below. The walls of the meeting room are half clad with vertical timber boards, with a central doorway linking the two principal spaces. The gallery stair to the south is mid-C20.

The 1966 extension is understood to now house two self-contained flats and is of lesser interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: there is a small burial ground to the south of the meeting house, with a series of iron railings, likely to date from the C19, fronting Double Street. Beneath the railings are C20 brick walls.

History

The Quaker movement emerged out of a period of religious and political turmoil in the mid-C17. Its main protagonist, George Fox, openly rejected traditional religious doctrine, instead promoting the theory that all people could have a direct relationship with God, without dependence on sermonising ministers, nor the necessity of consecrated places of worship. Fox, originally from Leicestershire, claimed the Holy Spirit was within each person, and from 1647 travelled the country as an itinerant preacher. 1652 was pivotal in his campaign; after a vision on Pendle Hill, Lancashire, Fox was moved to visit Firbank Fell, Cumbria, where he delivered a rousing, three-hour speech to an assembly of 1000 people, and recruited numerous converts. The Quakers, formally named the Religious Society of Friends, was thus established.

Fox asserted that no one place was holier than another, and in their early days, the new congregations often met for silent worship at outdoor locations; the use of member’s houses, barns, and other secular premises followed. Persecution of Nonconformists proliferated in the period, with Quakers suffering disproportionately. The Quaker Act of 1662, and the Conventicle Act of 1664, forbade their meetings, though they continued in defiance, and a number of meeting houses date from this early period. Broad Campden, Gloucestershire, came into Quaker use in 1663 and is the earliest meeting house in Britain, although it was out of use from 1871 to 1961. The meeting house at Hertford, 1670, is the oldest to be purpose built. The Act of Toleration, passed in 1689, was one of several steps towards freedom of worship outside the established church, and thereafter meeting houses began to make their mark on the landscape.

Quaker meeting houses are generally characterised by simplicity of design, both externally and internally, reflecting the form of worship they were designed to accommodate. The earliest purpose-built meeting houses were built by local craftsmen following regional traditions and were on a domestic scale, frequently resembling vernacular houses; at the same time, a number of older buildings were converted to Quaker use. From the first, most meeting houses shared certain characteristics, containing a well-lit meeting hall with a simple arrangement of seating. In time a raised stand became common behind the bench for the Elders, so that traveling ministers could be better heard. Where possible, a meeting house would provide separate accommodation for the women’s business meetings, and early meeting houses may retain a timber screen, allowing the separation (and combination) of spaces for business and worship. In general, the meeting house will have little or no decoration or enrichment, with joinery frequently left unpainted.

Throughout the C18 and early C19 many new meeting houses were built, or earlier buildings remodelled, with ‘polite’, Classically-informed designs appearing, reflecting architectural trends more widely. However, the buildings were generally of modest size and with minimal ornament, although examples in urban settings tended to be more architecturally ambitious. After 1800, it became more common for meeting houses to be designed by an architect or surveyor.

The meeting house at Spalding was constructed in 1806 at the northern end of the burial ground, replacing two earlier cottages which had been repurposed as a meeting house in the late-C17. In 1965 the building was extensively refurbished under the work of the Quaker architect Hubert Lidbetter. The refurbishment saw the roof replaced, the windows renewed and the south elevation of the building re-faced in brick, removing the earlier render. A two-storey extension to the south-west was erected in 1966, intended to house a community room at ground floor with accommodation for a warden at first floor.

The interior of the 1806 building has also been modernised, possibly in a second phase of renovation subsequent to the mid-1960s work. This has included the removal of a panelled timber screen and some shutters within the meeting room.

In the early-C21 the 1966 two-storey extension was altered to create two self-contained flats.

Reasons for Listing

Spalding Quaker Meeting House is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:
* the meeting house dates to the early-C19 and is a good example of the simple, vernacular style adopted by Quakers;
* despite some alteration in the mid-C20 the building retains its early-C19 character;

Historic interest:
* the 1960s refurbishment to the building was conducted by Hubert Lidbetter, the renowned Quaker architect.

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