Quaker meeting house and adjoining stables, C18, with C19 and C20 alterations.
Reasons for Designation
Mosedale Quaker Meeting House is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as an historic survivor of an early-C18 Quaker meeting house which retains its essential historic form and character;
* in a vernacular style typifying the modest nature of these buildings for worship;
* the Elders’ Stand and other historic fabric preserved in the interior provide evidence for the arrangement of space typical for earlier Quaker meeting houses.
* as one of the earliest Quaker meeting houses in the region, with a nearby detached burial ground;
* although converted into a meeting house shortly after George Fox’s death, it has a strong connection to the founder of the Religious Society of Friends who established the first Quaker meeting in Mosedale.
* with adjacent Grade II-listed buildings including Mosedale House, Croft House and adjoining barns, Middles' Farmhouse and adjoining barn and Middle Farm Cottage, all within The English Lake District World Heritage Site.
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.
George Fox visited Mosedale in 1653, during the critical period that he spent in Cumbria when the Religious Society of Friends became established. He held a meeting hosted by John Slee, and by the later C17 the number of Quakers in Mosedale was increasing. The house of George Pickering was re-ordered in 1702 to accommodate them for worship. This involved widening the building to the north-west by re-building the side wall five feet further forward, under a cat-slide roof supported by two sandstone Tuscan columns. The building became the property of the meeting in 1739. The northern part of the building's utility range is an C18 addition and the stable block is also later.
Alterations were made to the building in 1884, including changes to windows and benches, and panelling the Elders’ Stand. From 1865 to 1973 the number of meeting members fluctuated and the building had other uses. These included a reading room for men working at the nearby Carrock mine, a Methodist chapel, and a Church of England chapel of ease. The building underwent restoration in the 1960s, providing a simple cafe for visitors to the area. Water and electricity were laid on and toilet facilities installed at that time.
A small extension was added to the south-west in 1977, initially to provide caretaker’s accommodation, latterly used as a kitchen. In 1987 the meeting house was re-roofed, render was removed from the south-east wall, and the stonework was re-pointed.
The detached burial ground is to the east.
Quaker meeting house and adjoining stables, C18, with C19 and C20 alterations.
MATERIALS: limestone and slate rubble walling, sandstone dressings, and Cumbrian green slate roof coverings.
PLAN: single-storey, L-shaped on plan, in three units comprising a north-west to south-east oriented utility range including kitchen and cloakrooms, then the main meeting room and a former stable block oriented south-west to north-east.
EXTERIOR: the meeting house stands to the south side of the road through Mosedale, at the foot of Carrock Fell. The front (north-west) elevation facing the road comprises, from left to right, the former stable block, the meeting house, and the utility range. The stable block elevation is lit by a small single-light square-headed window to the left, and has a full-height plain planked double-leaf door to the right. The meeting house main entrance in the right-hand side of the front elevation has a stone surround and chamfered lintel inscribed with the date 1702. To the right, the blind gable end of the utility range projects forward.
The south-west elevation comprises from left to right a small square-headed two-light window, then a small window in a stone surround and a plain planked door giving access to the 1977 extension. The rear (south-east) elevation comprises, to the left, four bays of two-light stone mullion windows: the window to the left in the 1977 extension matches the three windows of the three-bay C18 main meeting room. To the right, the rear elevation continues along the stable block. The north-east elevation comprises the blind gable end of the stable block.
The south-west to north-east oriented gable roof is common to the stable block, main meeting room and 1977 extension, to which the gable roof of the northern section of the utility range is perpendicular. The north-west run of the meeting house roof is longer, extending in a short cat-slide over the front elevation. The main meeting room is additionally lit by two small roof lights, one to each side.
INTERIOR: the main meeting room, rectangular on plan, is entered through the main door to the north-west. The floor is covered in flagstones and all the walls are plainly plastered, except the south-west which includes panelling and exposed stonework. Benches are arranged around the central space, including one original backless fixed bench. There is also a fixed bench to the north-west wall, and the Elders’ Stand extends across the north-east wall. The Stand has fielded panelling in pine with a fixed bench, fronted by a balustrade of splat balusters, handrails and a reading desk. The Stand has a centrally-placed entrance of three steps. Above the Stand, several rubbings of door lintels from former Quaker meeting houses in the locality are fixed to the wall. The full-height meeting room includes two tie-beam roof trusses supported, at their north-west ends, on sandstone Tuscan columns with plain piers. The room is ceiled at collar level. The three windows to the south-east wall have chains for the former external shutters and there are paraffin lamps. An internal doorway in the south-west corner leads from the main meeting room into the utility range, which includes cloakroom and toilet facilities.