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Pardshaw Quaker Meeting House, stable and schoolroom and walls to burial ground

A Grade II* Listed Building in Dean, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6164 / 54°36'58"N

Longitude: -3.3893 / 3°23'21"W

OS Eastings: 310378

OS Northings: 525466

OS Grid: NY103254

Mapcode National: GBR 4HS1.0Y

Mapcode Global: WH702.X76C

Plus Code: 9C6RJJ86+G7

Entry Name: Pardshaw Quaker Meeting House, stable and schoolroom and walls to burial ground

Listing Date: 3 March 1967

Last Amended: 8 May 2019

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1326883

English Heritage Legacy ID: 72642

Location: Dean, Allerdale, Cumbria, CA13

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Dean

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Dean St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

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Quaker meeting house and burial ground walls, 1729; stable, 1731 and school, 1745. Minor C20 alterations.


Quaker meeting house and burial ground walls, 1729; stable, 1731 and school, 1745. Minor C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: the meeting house and stable/school are of sandstone rubble finished in lime-wash, with dressed stone details under a graduated Cumbrian Greenslate roofs (there is a section of modern Cumbrian slate to the stable). Cast-iron rainwater goods to the meeting house and a rebuilt brick chimney stack to the school/stable. The burial ground walls are of sandstone rubble.

PLAN: a rectangular sloping plan set to the south-east of the village street. An L-shaped meeting house occupies the south-east corner comprising a large gabled meeting room with a smaller gabled meeting room attached to its rear, and a porch set in the west angle between the two ranges. An adjacent stable and school range comprising a detached L-shaped stable and a detached rectangular school linked by a rectangular covered passage. There are attached burial ground walls defining three sides of a rectangle.


MEETING HOUSE: a detached single-storey building beneath a steeply-pitched roof with a single gable chimneystack. All window and door openings have plain, painted stone surrounds. The north elevation has five renewed eight-pane sash and casement windows, the central one originally the main entrance to the large meeting room. The right gabled return has a pair of eight-pane fixed windows to the ground floor and a small window above within a chamfered surround; within the lean-to porch extension there is a wide entrance fitted with double plank doors. Further to the right and set back are a pair of windows each with 18 panes, the left hand sash window is original with thick glazing bars, the right hand window is a fixed modern replacement. The left gabled return is largely blind, but beyond this are a pair of two-light mullioned windows (possibly incorporating stone from the first meeting house) lighting the small meeting room. The rear elevation is blind.

STABLE AND SCHOOL RANGE: a single-storey range under pitched roofs, with a brick north gable chimneystack. The west elevation flanking the street has a stable entrance with alternating jambs and a plank door, double plank doors in a plain opening that give access to the covered passageway between the stable and school, and a pair of casement windows with external plank shutters lighting the schoolroom. At the south end of this elevation there is a single stone kneeler. The inner north elevation of the stable has a chamfered entrance with a plank door and a (reused) lintel bearing the date 1672; to the right and above there is a two-light stone-mullioned window, now blocked, and the east gable of the stable has a blocked stone ventilation slit, and an attached lean-to store. The inner, east elevation of the school has sash and casement windows with glazing bars in plain reveals.


MEETING HOUSE: the porch has a flagstone floor. An inner doorway, with a chamfered surround and fitted with a heavy double thickness door with strap hinges and original door furniture, opens into the small meeting room. This full-height room retains its original layout with the stand against the south-west wall (renewed joinery) incorporating a fireplace with a stone chimneypiece. An original, movable screen partition forms the opposite wall composed of hinged shutters with fielded panels arranged in two sets; the uppers are top-hinged and secured by wrought-iron hooks on the ceiling and the lower are hinged along their bottom edge. The floor is boarded, beneath which the original stone flags remain, and there is a tongue and groove dado with painted plaster above. The room also retains some unfixed historic pine benches. A second doorway from the porch enters into the large, full-height meeting room with plain, painted plaster walls and a C20 pine floor, below which remains the original floor. There is a stone fireplace fitted with a multi-fuel stove. A small kitchen has been inserted and a timber sleeping platform has been constructed over the original stand along the south-east wall.

STABLE AND SCHOOL RANGE: the stable has lime-washed walls and a C21 replacement roof structure. The east gable has a two-phase blocked window and joist holes of a former loft floor. Wooden stalls for about ten horses with wide-plank, pine-boarded partitions occupy the remainder of the interior. Most stalls have attached chains to the front and there are some mangers; four of the stalls have C20 inserted WCs and washing facilities. The school retains its original simple plan of school room and separate schoolmaster's room. The latter is entered by stone steps up to a boarded door of two wide planks; it has a corner chimney breast with a C19 arched, cast-iron surround and C19 shelving. The schoolroom is entered through a crude segmental-headed entrance with a four-plank boarded door and has plainly painted walls, some exposed ceiling beams and several wooden and cast-iron coat hooks. There is a central narrow chimney breast with a stone and brick hob grate, with a wall cupboard to the right and a boarded door into a WC extension. What is considered to be the original large wooden, fixed school-room table and benches are still in situ. Separating the stable and school is a covered passageway through the full width of the building with entrances at either end; it has a stone flagged floor, lime-washed walls, cast-iron and wooden coat hooks and it retains part of the original timber roof structure to the western half.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: low sandstone rubble wall walls of irregular height are attached to the north gables of the associated school and meeting house, and enclose the adjacent burial ground on three sides. The wall flanking the village lane is the highest and has flat coping stones.


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 1,000 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 in member’s houses, barns, and other secular premises followed. Persecution of non-Conformists 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, and that 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.

Quakers met for worship in the open air on Pardshaw Crag, a few hundred metres to the north-west of the current meeting house, from the 1650s until 1672; George Fox attended meetings there in 1657 and 1663. In winter, Friends also met in houses at Pardshaw, Lamplugh, Whinfell and Eaglesfield. In 1672 the meeting moved to a purpose-built building, the site of which has not been identified, but there is a strong tradition that it was situated in a field just to the north-west of the present meeting house. The present L-plan meeting house that replaced it was constructed in 1729 on a rectangular plot called The Guards in Pardshaw Hall; this building consists of a large meeting room originally entered from a central entrance in the north elevation and a small meeting room attached to the rear: in 1740 a porch was added from which access to both rooms was gained, and the original main entrance was partially blocked and converted to a window. It is thought that some of the material from the first meeting house was re-used in construction of the second, including mullioned windows.

A burial ground was laid out around the same time to the north of the meeting house. In 1731 an adjacent stable block was built; this incorporates a lintel dated 1672, said to have come from the first meeting house. In 1745 a purpose-built school, adjacent to the lane, was built and was linked to the stable by a covered passage. John Dalton (1766-1844) the renowned chemist and natural philosopher, born in Eaglesfield, Cumbria to parents who were both members of the Society of Friends, attended school here. His most influential work in chemistry was his pioneering theory of atomism. A second, detached school room (demolished) was built next to the lane, north-west of the burial ground in 1774. In 1879 an open-fronted carriage shelter was built across the lane from the stables.

The meeting house declined in the C20 and closed in 1923. In 1932 it was adapted for use as a youth hostel, and during the Second World War as it was used by Young Friends. From the 1950s the buildings were used as a Quaker holiday centre and then as the Young Friends National Pardshaw Centre. Electricity was installed in 1978 and other late-C20 improvements to the larger meeting room included a new timber floor and the insertion of a kitchen and a sleeping platform. At the same time some of the stalls within the stable were adapted for showers and washing facilities.

Reasons for Listing

Pardshaw Quaker Meeting House and burial ground walls, 1729; stable, 1731 and school, 1745, are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* dating from the early C18, the meeting house and stable are relatively early examples, that incorporate fabric from the previous later-C17 meeting house;

* they display an excellent degree of survival and minor alterations to some interiors have not diminished their original C18 character;

* designed in a simple vernacular style, forming an attractive ensemble amid a tranquil, rural setting;

* the buildings retain their original simple plan-forms, and their various functions, worship, stabling and education are clearly legible;

* the interior spaces retain a range of historic fittings, including stalls for ten horses to the stable, and moveable shuttered partition to the meeting house and an original school table.;

* a particularly attractive and intact grouping of functionally-related Quaker buildings in the meeting house, stable, school and burial ground walls.

Historic interest:

* associated with George Fox and early Quakerism in rural West Cumbria, illustrating the growing confidence and resources of Quakers in this remote part of Cumbria;

* a documented association with John Dalton, the nationally renowned chemist, who attended the school.

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