History in Structure

Cartmel Quaker Meeting House with gighouse/stable and enclosing walls

A Grade II Listed Building in Lower Allithwaite, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.199 / 54°11'56"N

Longitude: -2.9481 / 2°56'53"W

OS Eastings: 338246

OS Northings: 478552

OS Grid: SD382785

Mapcode National: GBR 7MVW.JJ

Mapcode Global: WH83C.PQBB

Plus Code: 9C6V53X2+HQ

Entry Name: Cartmel Quaker Meeting House with gighouse/stable and enclosing walls

Listing Date: 5 April 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1460450

ID on this website: 101460450

Location: Cartmel, Westmorland and Furness, Cumbria, LA11

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

Civil Parish: Lower Allithwaite

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Tagged with: Architectural structure


Quaker Meeting House, 1859 to designs by Alfred Waterhouse, stable and gighouse and perimeter walls also 1859; minor C20 alterations.


Quaker Meeting House, 1859 to designs by Alfred Waterhouse, stable and gighouse and perimeter walls also of 1859; minor C20 alterations to the meeting house attic and front wall.

MATERIALS: stone finished in rough-cast render, with rusticated limestone dressings, beneath a graduated greenslate roof; cast iron rainwater goods.

PLAN: the T-shaped plan meeting house is set to the rear centre of a rectangular plot and comprises an entrance lobby with the now enclosed gallery stairs and a WC to the east, a kitchen to the north and the meeting room to the west. An L-shaped stable and gig house (incorporating a WC) is set to the south-east corner of the plot.

EXTERIOR: the meeting house is a stone-built, single-storey building under a pitched roof with overhanging eaves. The main north elevation has four bays separated by stepped buttresses, the most westerly three with a tall segmental-headed window of four lights with a hopper vent to the window top, lighting the meeting room. A gabled and buttressed porch (also with overhanging eaves) occupies the fourth (east) bay, with a semi-circular outer doorway and a recessed, octagonal stone panel above carved with the date 1859; the threshold is flanked to either side by a cast-iron boot scraper. The right return is blind and the left return has a single tall round-arched window to the first floor and three small fixed-pane ground floor windows. The rear elevation has swept eaves, and a later, small lean-to is attached. The south rear elevation is similarly detailed to the north.

The detached stable/gig house is a single-storey stone-built structure with quoins, under pitched roofs, hipped to the east end of the stable, of graduated greenslate. The gig house is an open-fronted shed with an entrance through the rear wall and is attached to a rectangular stable with a boarded door with fanlight over, and a window in the east wall. There is a WC attached to the west end.

INTERIOR: the porch has a stone-flagged floor and an inner segmental-headed doorway fitted with a six-panelled door. It opens into a narrow lobby, with an original diagonally-laid red and black tiled floor, four-panelled doors into the adjoining rooms, cast-iron coat hooks and fitted cupboards and shelving. The lobby ceiling is stepped to accommodate the gallery above. The full-height meeting room has a panelled dado with plastered walls above and a suspended ceiling. The ministers' stand against the west wall retains two levels of fitted benches with panelled backs and shaped arm rests and a front rail. All panels to the dado, doors and the stand are chamfered mid-C19 form. The pine floor is carpeted. The east gallery was blocked off in the mid-C20 by the insertion of a full-height partition. The original meeting room roof structure is retained above the inserted ceiling: the feet of the arched braces to the trusses are visible below and chamfered purlins are visible in the gallery. The plain, pine staircase to the gallery is enclosed by later partitions and has no balustrade; the plaster walls here and in the lobby are lined to resemble ashlar. The stable/gig house has a cobbled floor, lime-washed walls and a pine roof structure. One of the two original pine-boarded stall partitions remains, the second represented only by a front post. One of the stalls retains a wooden manger attached to the wall and a second stall retains the manger mortices. The interior of the WC could not be inspected.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the rectangular site is enclosed by limestone walls with alternating flat and upright stone copings (cock and hen copings). That to the front has a pair of swept double entrances, fitted with modern steel gates, flanked by re-sited, original rusticated stone gate piers with caps.


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 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.

During the Victorian period, meeting houses were built in a wider variety of architectural styles than previously. Architects played an increasingly important role in their design and construction and fewer meeting houses were built according to local vernacular traditions. This increase in stylistic eclecticism reflects both a wider national move away from the vernacular in the wake of industrialisation, and the raising of the architect’s professional status. Several Victorian interiors have survived with original fittings; they generally continue established traditions, with panelled dados, raised stands, moveable benches and panelled moveable screens.

George Fox visited Cartmel in 1652 to speak in the Priory but the Rev Philip Bennet declined to debate with him and Fox was knocked down in the churchyard by parishioners. In 1667 a meeting house for Friends was built in a remote area north of High Newton at Cartmel Height on land given by Lawrence Newton, and a burial ground was laid out nearby. From 1840 this meeting house declined and the building was sold in 1922. In the mid-C19 Friends decided to establish a meeting in the more accessible village of Cartmel, and in 1858 two cottages and the adjoining land were bought for £175. A new meeting house building was constructed by November 1859 at a cost of £482. The architect was Alfred Waterhouse, whose fees were paid by a Manchester Friend. The contractor was James Carruthers of Barrow. For a number of years meetings alternated between the Height and Cartmel before the former closed.

Water and drainage for an indoor WC was installed in 1956, and in 1959 electric heating was installed to replace the stove. In 1968 the loft was altered to adapt it for a classroom, and a suspended ceiling was inserted to the meeting room; the roof was also re-laid as part of this work. The original front wall was modified during the C20: the original two gateways (one to each end) were replaced by a pair of swept double-gate entrances, reusing the original gate piers.

Alfred Waterhouse RA PPRIBA (1830-1905) is a Gothic Revival architect of national renown. Born to Quaker parents, Waterhouse’s early career was helped by commissions from Quaker clients, for example from J W Pease of Darlington. He first practised in Manchester, capitalising on his mill-owning family’s links with many Quaker industrialists, gaining commissions for private homes across the north of England and in the Lake District. His competition-winning design for the Reeth Friends’ school in Yorkshire of about 1860 remained unbuilt, as did his design for the meeting house in Liverpool (1857). Together with his son Paul, he also prepared designs for the Leighton Park Quaker School, the successor to the school in Tottenham which he had attended. Waterhouse gained a reputation for grand public buildings, including the competition-winning design for Manchester Town Hall (1868-77) and most famously the Natural History Museum in London (1870-80), from where he practised in his later career. He is thought to have been responsible for around 650 buildings in his lifetime; around 40 of these are listed.

Reasons for Listing

Quaker Meeting House, Cartmel of 1859 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse, and the associated gighouse/stable and enclosing walls, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a good example of a purpose-built mid-C19 meeting house by a leading architect, that unusually incorporates a measure of external ornamentation;
* it is an intact example that retains its original simple plan-form and a suite of original fixtures and fittings including a two-tier ministers' stand;
* the presence of an associated gighouse/stable and enclosing walls completes the group and enhances its overall interest.

Historic interest:

* designed by the renowned Gothic Revival architect Alfred Waterhouse who has more than forty listed buildings to his name.

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