History

The Society of Friends (Quakers) have worshipped in Nottingham since 1648.

Quakers have been meeting in Nottingham since the 1600s.  Here is a pictorial history of the Meeting Houses that have been in existence since then.  You can also see a map of the Meeting House locations. The original, more detailed photo album was compiled by the late John Gray, and is available to view after Meeting for Worship.

Every effort has been made to acknowledge copyright for the photos.  Please inform us of any omissions so we can rectify them as soon as possible.

1649-1678: John Reckless’s house

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1649 John Reckless house (1905)
John Reckless’s house at the corner of White Friars Lane and Spaniel Lane (Row). The ‘Seekers’ met here from 1649 to 1678.
In 1649, George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers, arrived in Nottingham, where he proceeded to interrupt the service in St. Mary’s Church. He was put in prison at Weekday Cross, which he described as ‘a nasty stinking place’. Mrs. Reckless, the wife of John Reckless who was Sheriff of Nottingham, was present at St. Mary’s on the occasion of this interruption and was so influenced by Fox’s testimony that she arranged for him to be removed from the gaol to custody in the Sheriff’s house. Both she and her husband soon afterwards became Quakers.
(Photo taken c. 1905. Historical material by J Holland Walker, quoted from picturethepast.org.uk).

Nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: John Reckless's house (1920s)
John Reckless’s house.
(Photo taken c. 1920 just before demolition. Photo: courtesy of www.picturethepast.org.uk)

1678-1737: Spaniel Lane

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1678 Spaniel Lane debenture

Indenture for the sale of a new house and garden in Spaniel Lane (now Spaniel Row) from John Reckless to Friends for £10.

Nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Site of Walnut Tree Lane burial ground Being denied the use of churchyards, early Friends were buried in their own gardens. In 1675 this plot in Walnut Tree Lane was bought for £18. This photo shows the approximate location before demolition due to the building of Maid Marian Way.
(Photo: courtesy of Howitt Partnership and www.picturethepast.org.uk)

1737-1847: Spaniel Row

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1737 Drawing of Spaniel Row meeting house
Two houses adjacent to the existing one in Spaniel Row were bought for £36, and a new Meeting House built on the site at a cost of £337. During the building period, Friends met in a room on Wheeler Gate lent by David Reckless. (Drawing c 1847)
(Image © Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain)

1737 A 3D drawing of how the Spaniel Row Meeting House might have looked.
A 3D drawing of how the Spaniel Row Meeting House might have looked.
(Drawing by John Gray)

1737 Spaniel Row meeting house 3 Outside 1951
North wall showing original pointed windows – an unusual design feature for a Meeting House.
(Photo: 1951 during demolition)

1737 Spaniel Row meeting house 4 Inside 1951Interior with added ‘chapel’ entrance on left. After the building was sold, a chapel-like frontage was added by the Catholic Apostolic Church.
(Photo: 1951 during demolition)

1847-1961: Friar Lane

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1847 Friar Lane meeting house 1 Friar Lane Meeting House built at a cost of £1600, on the Friar Lane Burial Ground which had been in use since 1804. This picture shows the original entrance, before the widening of Friar Lane in 1926.

1847 Friar Lane meeting house 2 after road widening
New entrance after widening of Friar Lane.

Nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Friar Lane meeting house interiorInterior showing ministers’ gallery and front bench where the Elders set. Several original benches are in the present building.
(Photo: courtesy of George L Roberts and www.picturethepast.org.uk)

1847 Friar Lane meeting house 3 and Adult School Rooms
Friar Lane Meeting House with the Adult School Rooms on the right.

Nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Adult School Rooms, Friar Lane
Adult School Rooms, Friar Lane on the right.
In 1798, a literacy school for adults was started by William Singleton of the Methodist New Connection Church. He was later assisted by a Quaker, Samuel Fox, who took it over and it became known as the Quaker School. Friends raised the money for these purpose-built premises. Caroline Howitt and Alice Scanlon started the Women’s Adult School, the first one in the country. The Adult School movement grew and spread nationwide.
(Photo: courtesy of George L Roberts and www.picturethepast.org.uk)

1961-present: Clarendon Street

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1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 1
Clarendon Street Meeting House. Built for £30,000 on an unused part of the Clarendon Street burial ground.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 2 Meeting room
Interior of the Meeting Room with its original domed roof.

nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Riba Architecture medal 1961 The building was awarded a RIBA Architecture Medal in 1961.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 3 Grounds beforeThe Burial Ground’s original layout with its memorial stones.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 4 Grounds after 24.04.94The Burial Ground was landscaped and new paths laid in 1994. The memorial stones were moved from the central grassed area to make a safer recreational area for the children.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 5 Domed roofThe original domed roof from the outside, which by 2006 was deteriorating.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 7 New roof 2A crane is used during the replacement of the roof.

1961 Clarendon Street Meeting House with its new roofThe Meeting House as it is today, with its new roof.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 8 New roof inside The ceiling of the new roof incorporates a heat exchanger and has solved the acoustics problem which the previous domed construction caused.

1961 Clarendon Street meeting house 10 Solar panels The Meeting House roof in 2016, complete with solar panels.

Nottinghamquakers.org.uk image: Peace pole in Nottingham Friends Meeting House gardenThe Peace Pole was carved for the Week for Peace festival in 2014. Above the dove carving is the message ‘May peace prevail on earth’ in several languages.

1961 Clarendon Street Meeting House sign The sign welcoming people to the Meeting House.

Meeting House table by John GrayInscription from the table in the Meeting Room, made by John Gray.

Map of Nottingham Friends Meeting Houses through the years

Map produced by Pixelshrink from John Gray’s originals.

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