Rawdon Quaker Meeting House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Quakers Lane, Rawdon, Leeds, LS19 6HU


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Statutory Address:
Quakers Lane, Rawdon, Leeds, LS19 6HU

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Leeds (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Quaker Meeting House, built in 1697 and extended in 1729, with later alterations.

Reasons for Designation

Rawdon Quaker Meeting House, situated on Quakers Lane, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a Quaker meeting house that typifies the modest nature of these buildings for worship, and which retains its essential historic form and character;

* the Elders’ stand 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 1697, constructed soon after the Act of Toleration of 1689, evidencing Quakers’ growing confidence and determination to practice their faith.

Group value:

* with the Grade II-listed adjacent Meeting House with Attached Stable, and Entrance Gateway to Friends Meeting House, With Attached Front Wall, Quakers Lane.


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 1000 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 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.

The site of Rawdon meeting house was purchased in 1697. Quakers had been meeting in Guiseley since 1655, but Guiseley Meeting was re-named Rawdon Meeting in 1697 with the establishment of the new building alongside a pre-existing cottage and stable. The meeting house was extended in 1729 with the addition of a new bay at a cost of £44.

Repairs and redecoration were carried out in 1817, with further improvements in 1826 and 1850. These works included inserting windows into the gable end walls, replacing casements with sashes, installing new shutters, and building the Elders’ stand against the east wall. The works of 1850 included the addition of an extension to the rear, demolished as part of a scheme from 1989 to 1991 by Michael Sykes (architect) that also dealt with insect damage to roof timbers. A low wooden barrier oriented west-east divided the meeting room into men’s and women’s spaces, until relocated in 2015 to replace a balustrade in front of the stand. After repeated thefts, imitation stone roof coverings are now in place of the original stone tiles.


Quaker Meeting House, built in 1697 and extended in 1729, with later alterations.

MATERIALS: coursed dressed gritstone walls, imitation stone roof coverings.

PLAN: rectangular on plan, single-storey with gabled queen post roof and chimney stack to the west gable end. The meeting house is oriented north-west to south-east (which is simplified in the following description to north-south).

EXTERIOR: the meeting house main (south) front comprises four bays with, from left to right, a pair of two-light mullioned sash windows, the entrance door, and two further pairs of two-light mullioned sash windows. The lintel of the chamfered doorway includes the date 1697. There are ventilation grilles below the windows. The west elevation includes a pair of two-light mullioned sash windows which light a small meeting room, whilst the north elevation includes only a rear entrance door the western bay. The east elevation contains two two-light sash windows, lighting the main meeting room. Guttering to front and rear is carried on stone corbel brackets. The meeting house has an imitation-stone covered gable roof, gable copings, and a low chimney stack to the west gable end.

INTERIOR: the meeting house is divided into three principal spaces. To the south-west, the small entrance lobby is entered from the main entrance to the south. The lobby includes a fitted cupboard and safe, and early-C19 joinery including tongue and groove panelling, turned wooden hat pegs and coat hooks. The lobby is divided from a small meeting room to the north-west by the lobby’s fitted furniture and additional panelling. That meeting room also has a panelled dado, with fixed seating to the north-west, and retains a ventilating Tobin tube under the west window.

The principal space to the east comprises the main meeting room, divided from the western facilities by a panel of sash shutters with doors at either end. It has a flat ceiling supported on two timber beams, and a panelled dado. It is lit by the windows in the south and east walls; those to the south include Tobin tubes. The Elders’ stand against the east wall consists of two ranks of fixed benches with panelled backs accessed by steps to the north and south ends. The former west-east panelled barrier now fronts the stand. There are fixed benches to three sides of the room.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Butler, D, The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain, Volume 2, (1999), p823
Friends Meeting House, Rawdon: historic building record. Architectural History Practice, 2016, accessed 11 November 2019 from http://heritage.quaker.org.uk
Rice, PJ [n.d.] [2015] Design, Access and Heritage Statement. Rawdon Friends Meeting House.


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 25 Jan 2003
Reference: IOE01/09873/09
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Steven Hughes. Source Historic England Archive
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