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Crawshawbooth Quaker Meeting House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Goodshaw, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.7244 / 53°43'27"N

Longitude: -2.2882 / 2°17'17"W

OS Eastings: 381082

OS Northings: 425367

OS Grid: SD810253

Mapcode National: GBR DTGC.DN

Mapcode Global: WH974.TNL6

Plus Code: 9C5VPPF6+PP

Entry Name: Crawshawbooth Quaker Meeting House

Listing Date: 7 June 1971

Last Amended: 17 July 2020

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1361998

English Heritage Legacy ID: 185756

Location: Rossendale, Lancashire, BB4

County: Lancashire

Electoral Ward/Division: Goodshaw

Built-Up Area: Rawtenstall

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Goodshaw St Mary and All Saints with St John Crawshawbooth

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

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Quaker Meeting House, 1716, with later additions in 1736, 1793, and alterations in the C20.


Quaker Meeting House, 1716, with later additions in 1736, 1793, and alterations in the C20.

MATERIALS: squared and coursed sandstone rubble, moulded stone window surrounds, sandstone slate roof coverings.

PLAN: L-shaped on plan, comprising the conjoined meeting house and dwelling house oriented east-west and a lean-to extending from the north elevation on the west side.

EXTERIOR: the meeting house stands in its attached burial ground to the north side of Co-Operation Street, and to the east of Limy Water. Its two principal units comprise the three-storey, single-bay, double-pile dwelling house including the former stable to the west, and the single-storey, four-bay main meeting house to the east. The meeting house, which has a low plinth to its front elevation, is built in narrow courses of watershot masonry, whilst the superstructure of the dwelling house is built in larger sandstone blocks. The gable roofs of each are oriented east-west, with sandstone slate roof coverings and ridge stacks to the eastern gables.

The front (south) elevation comprises, from right to left, two tall six-light windows with stone mullions and transoms lighting the main meeting room, then the small gabled porch. Then, a three-light mullioned window lights the former women’s business room, with a two-light mullioned window above lighting the gallery. However, the base of the meeting house wall here is obscured by the external stone staircase that leads up to the first floor entrance of the dwelling house. To the left and below the staircase is the opening to the former stable. The top of the dwelling house staircase provides access to the doorway of a projecting, glazed, porch with a shed roof. To the right of the porch a large four-light window also lights the front room in the first floor of the dwelling house, with a small four-light window above.

The west elevation, comprising the gable end of the dwelling house overlooking Stoneholme Road and Limy Water, includes two small windows to the upper storey and another to the north side lighting the ground floor. The rear elevation of the dwelling house, lit by two small windows in the upper storey, is largely obscured by the single-storey lean-to which is lit by small windows in its west wall and accessed by a doorway in its east wall up steps from the garden.

The rear (north) elevation of the main meeting house includes a three-light mullioned window lighting the former women’s business room with a narrow three-light timber window above, under the eaves, lighting the gallery. To the left is a large six-light window with stone mullions and transoms lighting the main meeting room. The east elevation, comprising the gable end of the meeting house, is blind.

INTERIOR: the main meeting house is entered through the south porch. The entrance door leads into a small vestibule, from which a door opens into the main meeting room, while another door to the left gives access to the former women’s business room.

In the full-height main meeting room the space for meeting for worship is defined by a pair of benches with fixed backs, facing east, standing either side of a central walkway. An off-centre chamfered post supports the flat ceiling. An Elders’ Stand occupies the full width of the east wall, accessed via centrally-placed steps and an opening at each end. The Stand has two ranks of fixed benches. The raised rear benches have panelled backs. The backs to the front benches are formed of the Stand’s balustrade with stick balusters and newels having small ball finials, and shaped arm-rests. The north end of the Stand includes a book cupboard, formed out of a built-up window opening, with a panelled door. The walls are plainly plastered with a panelled dado and fixed benches to the north and south sides.

The stone staircase leading up to the western gallery occupies the north-west corner of the main meeting room, in front of the partition to the former women’s business room. The quarter-turn stair has a balustrade of stick balusters, blocked with timber panels, a slender turned newel and a handrail. The partition includes double shutters that can be dropped down from either side; they are in pine, grained to resemble oak. The gallery’s balustrade above is formed of stick balusters with a plain rail.

The former women’s business room below the gallery includes fixed benches to the south and west walls and a blocked fireplace in the west wall. Three east-west oriented chamfered beams in the ceiling support the gallery above. A door in the north-west corner leads into a small ancillary space and toilet facilities.

The former stable has a stone-flagged floor. Five east-west oriented chamfered beams, supported by later posts, support the dwelling house first floor above. The west wall includes some blocked openings. There are later subdivisions to the rear.


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 members’ 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 travelling 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. Ancillary buildings erected in addition to a meeting house could include stabling and covered spaces such as a gig house; caretaker’s accommodation; or a school room or adult school.

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 Victorian and Edwardian periods saw greater stylistic eclecticism, though the Gothic Revival associated with the Established Church was not embraced; on the other hand, Arts and Crafts principles had much in common with those of the Quakers, and a number of meeting houses show the influence of that movement.

The C20 saw changes in the way meeting houses were used which influenced their design and layout. In 1896 it was decided to unite men’s and women’s business, so separate rooms were no longer needed, whilst from the mid-1920s ministers were not recorded, and consequently stands were rarely provided in new buildings. Seating was therefore rearranged without reference to the stand, with moveable chairs set in concentric circles becoming the norm in smaller meeting houses. By the interwar years, there was a shift towards more flexible internal planning, together with the provision of additional rooms for purposes other than worship, reflecting the meeting house’s community role – the need for greater contact with other Christians and a more active contribution within the wider world had been an increasing concern since the 1890s. Traditional styles continued to be favoured, from grander Classical buildings in urban centres to local examples in domestic neo-Georgian.

Friends in the Rossendale area were holding meetings in private houses during the mid-C17. These included the properties of Richard Ratcliffe and Abraham Hayworth. A burial ground had been established at Chapel Hill about 2km to the south-east of Crawshawbooth, given to the Friends in the 1680s but having already been used for Quaker internments for around 20 years by that time. These early Quakers experienced persecution, including John Ratcliffe who was fined for preaching, and George Hayworth and James Rishton who were imprisoned for refusing to pay tithes.

In 1715 land was acquired in Crawshawbooth and a meeting house was built there in the following year at a cost of £60. It was licensed under the provisions of the Conventicles Act on 11 October 1716. The area around the building was being used as a burial ground from 1728 (extended in 1823 and 1875).

Originally, the building appears to have consisted of a single roomed meeting house above a stable. External steps up to the house survive. In 1736 the building was extended by adding a new meeting house to the east side of the building and this is probably the date of the surviving gallery and fixed furnishings. An upper floor was added to the old meeting house in 1793, when it was used as a dwelling house and as a school.

Over time, other alterations were made to the building. The moveable shutters in the partition between the main meeting room and the former women’s business room may date to the late C18 or early C19. The dwelling house above the stable was renovated in the late C20 or early C21 when a new front porch and large window were installed, replacing an earlier smaller porch and window opening. The meeting house has been refurbished following flooding on two separate occasions in the early C21 and the heating and lighting systems have also been upgraded.

Reasons for Listing

Crawshawbooth Quaker Meeting House, of 1716, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as an historic survivor of an early-C18 Quaker meeting house which retains its essential historic form and character, built in a vernacular style typifying the modest nature of these buildings for worship;
* for evidence of the development of the meeting house type, including stabling to facilitate meeting by travelling Friends and ministers, and the later-C18 provision of new enlarged facilities;
* the plan-form and the Elders’ Stand, gallery, shuttered meeting room partition, fixed benches and other historic fabric preserved in the interior provide evidence for the division of space and internal arrangements typical for earlier Quaker meeting houses.

Historic interest:

* as an early purpose-built meeting house dating to 1716 with an attached Quaker burial ground, and extended as the local Quaker community members gained confidence to practice their faith.

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