History in Structure

Frandley Quaker Meeting House and Burial Ground Wall

A Grade II Listed Building in Antrobus, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.3089 / 53°18'31"N

Longitude: -2.5473 / 2°32'50"W

OS Eastings: 363631

OS Northings: 379244

OS Grid: SJ636792

Mapcode National: GBR BZN5.BK

Mapcode Global: WH994.V365

Plus Code: 9C5V8F53+H3

Entry Name: Frandley Quaker Meeting House and Burial Ground Wall

Listing Date: 8 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1461217

ID on this website: 101461217

Location: Frandley, Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire, CW9

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Antrobus

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Tagged with: Church building


Quaker Meeting House, 1880-1881 in Gothic style, and burial ground wall, C17.


Quaker Meeting House, 1880-1881 in Gothic style, and burial ground wall, C17.

MATERIALS: the meeting house is built of fair-faced red/orange brick laid in Flemish bond; it has a brick plinth with blue brick nosing and ventilation bricks, a brick drip-mould band, and sandstone detailing. The gable roof is clad in Welsh slate, with plastic rain water goods. The internal fittings and fixtures are of stained pine.

PLAN: the building has a three-bay buttressed rectangular-plan and is oriented south-east to north-west, set within a trapezium-plan burial ground enclosed by a wall. A Grade II-listed combined school room, stable and carriage shelter is situated towards the south-west corner of the burial ground.

EXTERIOR: the main north-west gable has a central four-panel timber door that is set in a door frame, with an arcaded lintel and a plain glass four-centred fanlight. The door has a decorative Gothic-style wrought-iron combined escutcheon and door handle, with split ends and a central quatrefoil motif, and there are square headed iron studs spaced down the door beading. The doorway has chamfered and recessed brick jambs, with moulded four-petal fleuron corbels, supporting a plain four-centred brick arch. A differential weathering witness mark on the wall and an inverted V notch in the sandstone window sill above, indicate the position of the former porch. The doorway is flanked by a pair of two-light frosted glass timber lancet windows, with sloped sandstone sills, chamfered brick jambs and semi-circular heads. Three similar stepped lancet windows above the doorway, light the gallery within. The gable has a stepped brick verge and the apex is occupied by a date stone that reads 1880. The elevation is approached by a modern concrete disabled ramp leading to a platform protected by a low brick wall, consisting of the brick plinth of the now demolished porch; it has concrete coping and painted tubular steel railings. The south-east gable is built in a similar manner with three high-set stepped lancet windows, glazed with clear glass, and there is an area of patched brickwork and a stub of projecting wall at the southern corner. The north-east and south-west three-bay side elevations are identical in appearance, articulated by four stepped brick buttresses, a brick plinth at the base, and a corbel table eaves course of stylised moulded beak head corbels, separated by four-petal fleurons. The northern and southern bays have a pair of two-light lancet windows with semi-circular chamfered brick heads, with stone sills that rest on a drip mould band and are separated by a chamfered stone mullion; while the central bay is occupied by three lancets separated by a pair of stone mullions.

INTERIOR: the meeting house is entered by a vestibule from the central door in the north-west elevation. The vestibule has a stained pine floor, with tongue and grove wainscot panelling to the outside walls, a timber screen wall and a ceiling formed by the sloping floor of the gallery above. The screen wall has a torus skirting, chamfered and stopped framing, with plain panels below the dado rail and chevron panelling above. A six-panel door fitted with a turned wooden door knob and escutcheon is situated at the centre of the screen wall; it has canted outer panels, and plain central panels, chamfered and stopped stiles and rails, and a four-centred top rail. The ceiling is formed by the soffit of the gallery floor above, with exposed chamfered and stopped joists and reeded floor boards. A timber winder stair rises from the vestibule to the gallery; it has a bull-nose bottom step, a chamfered newel post with an octagonal newel stop, a balustrade with a moulded handrail and splat balusters. A cupboard entered by a four-panel door is situated beneath the winder treads of the staircase. The gallery has a three-tier floor, with a bench on each tier. The first two benches each have a pierced back, while the rear bench has a tongue and groove panelled back, against the rear wall. The gallery has a chevron panelled front rail that is carried by a heavily moulded beam, which is exposed to the meeting room below, the ends of which are supported by a pair of painted brick stylised beak head and fleuron corbels, and the vestibule screen wall butts up against the rear of the beam. The meeting room has a stained timber floor, with plain painted rendered walls and fielded panel wainscot panelling, with original pierced back benches. A raised stand is situated behind the Elders' bench, against the south-east wall, which is accessed at either end by two steps up from the meeting room floor. The stand has a decorative pierced and panelled front rail, with a pierced back bench situated within the space between the steps. The raised floor of the stand is occupied by benches, with that at the rear spanning the full width of the room and set against the plain tongue and groove wainscot panelled lining of the stand. The three-bay roof of the meeting house is exposed; it is carried on a pair of base cruck trusses on painted stone corbels, with two tiers of chamfered and stopped purlins, plain rafters, a plank lining, and a timber dentilled wall plate cornice.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: the meeting house stands within a trapezium-plan burial ground enclosed by a brick wall. The wall dates to the C17, and is built of 14 courses of clamp brick with ridged red sandstone copings. The front wall rises at its centre to from a shouldered gateway, with a flat brick arch and red sandstone coping stones, closed by a C21 iron gate.


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, 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.

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.

Frandley has a long tradition of Quakerism. William Gandy, a yeoman from Frandley Farm invited George Fox to the village in 1657, where he preached under an oak tree to a gathering of over 2,000 people, and shortly afterwards Friends began to meet in each other's houses. In 1676, William Gandy donated a building to be used as a meeting house, with surrounding land to be used as a burial ground, which was enclosed by a stone wall. The village squire also donated land around the same time to be used as a burial ground at Higher Whitley (listed Grade II), which remains in use as the current burial ground. In 1726, a combined school room, stable and carriage shelter (listed Grade II and currently - 2018 - used as a nursery school) was built to the south of the meeting house. By the mid-C19, the condition of the C17 meeting house was considered as being unsafe and it was demolished in 1880, allowing a new meeting house, set at a right-angle to the footprint of the original, to be built and completed in 1881. The new meeting house was built at a cost £600, a sum raised by the sale of land belonging to the Frandley Trust. Continuity was maintained with the original meeting house, by the retention of a C17 oak table, which remains in use today. C20 alterations include the installation of central heating in the 1930s and electric lighting in the 1960s, and the demolition of the porch to plinth level in 2010, to permit the construction of a disabled access ramp.

The meeting house and the adjacent Grade II-listed schoolroom, stand within a walled burial ground. The burial ground wall pre-dates the existing meeting house and dates to the C17. The original wrought-iron gate to the burial ground was stolen in 2018 and has been replaced by a modern gate of similar appearance.

Reasons for Listing

Frandley Quaker Meeting House, 1880-1881 and burial ground wall, C17, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the meeting house has an unusual Gothic design, with some modest external ornamentation;
* the interior retains a simplicity of design and plan-form, typical of a Quaker meeting house;
* there is a significant level of survival of original fittings and fixtures, including the screen wall, a raised stand, and a roof carried on a pair of base cruck trusses;
* the burial ground wall dates to the C17, is well-executed and relatively intact.

Historic interest:

* Frandley has been the centre of a thriving Quaker Community since the later C17, and has a significant historical association with George Fox, nationally important as the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Group value:

* the meeting house and the burial ground wall benefit from a spatial, historic and functional group value with the adjacent early-C18 Friends Sunday School (Grade II).

External Links

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