Winchester Quaker Meeting House


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
16 Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LH


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Statutory Address:
16 Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LH

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

Winchester (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Quaker Meeting House built in around 1773.

Reasons for Designation

Winchester Quaker Meeting House, a Georgian townhouse of 1773 becoming a meeting house in 1973, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a good example of a late Georgian town house with an imposing main elevation displaying high quality features including the Doric doorway with open pediment and semi-circular fanlight, mathematical tiles and sash windows;

* the interior retains much of its original character and fabric with quality detailing including a fine moulded chimneypiece, original window shutters, and an elegant oak staircase.

Historic interest:

* as a residential house which has been used as a rectory and a meeting house, its historic development is readable in the building fabric and illustrates how the building has evolved to accommodate changes.

Group value:

* with the brick garden boundary wall (Grade II) and the south boundary wall of Wolvesey Palace (scheduled monument).


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 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 traveling 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.

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 work of the prolific Hubert Lidbetter, longtime Surveyor to the Six Weeks Meeting, demonstrates a range from the solid Classicism of Friends House, London (1924-27) to the more contemporary style of the Sheffield meeting house of 1964 (now in alternative use). In the post-war period, a small number of Quaker buildings in more emphatically modern styles were built; examples include the meeting house at Heswall, Merseyside, 1963 by Beech and Thomas, and buildings by Trevor Dannatt, of which the Blackheath Quaker Meeting House is one.

In Winchester, by 1750 there was a Quaker burial ground on St Giles’ Hill which was partially destroyed later. The Meeting was re-started in 1940 housed in various buildings but in 1973, a former rectory was acquired for use as a meeting house and hostel. The house was described in 1773 as a ‘newly erected dwelling’. Over time it passed through various owners and served as the rectory of the parish of St Lawrence and St Maurice from 1916 after major repairs. This included raising the ceilings on the second floor and the windows facing east were heightened by one foot. The use of the rooms on the ground floor was changed and the layout around the kitchen altered.

It is not known when the wall between the hall and the drawing room was removed or when the top floor flat was made. The front entrance lobby and positioning of the study door meant that visitors for the rector could be admitted with no inconvenience to the rest of the house. Abutting the party garden wall and south side of the house, a small single-storey extension, probably created from an existing outbuilding seen on early C20 OS maps, was added.

A new rectory first occupied in 1973 was built on the eastern part of the garden and the old rectory was sold by auction. M Jenkins from Surrey bought the old rectory and resold almost immediately to the Friends as a meeting house. The Friends have since made alterations to suit their use of the building. The first Children’s Room was made from the pantry, larder cupboard and passage in 1977 and is now the small meeting room. Major refurbishment took place in 2013, including the provision of a new doorway link between the kitchen at the back of the house and the small meeting room to the north as well as renewal of the slate roof over the single-storey extension.

The C19 red brick boundary wall of the garden is separately listed at Grade II (List entry 1095479) and the south boundary wall of flint and stone forms part of Wolvesey Palace scheduled monument (List entry 1005535).


Quaker Meeting House built in c 1773.

MATERIALS: red brick walls laid mostly in Flemish bond and mathematical tiles on the upper storeys of the south elevation, with a U-plan hipped roof with clay tiles.

PLAN: square plan with a small single-storey extension to the south-west.

EXTERIOR: the building is three storeys with the main elevation facing east overlooking the garden. The east elevation has a symmetrical frontage of five bays with grey plait bands between the storeys. The main entrance has a Doric doorway flanked by columns with a semi-circular fanlight above and an open pediment. It has a timber panelled door. The ground floor has four six-over-six sash windows, two each either side of the doorway, while the first floor has five six-over-six sashes, with a keystone to the central window. The top floor has four three-over-three sashes, two each either side of a central casement window which also has a keystone. All the windows have rubbed and gauged flat arches, above which is a brick dentil cornice below the eaves.

The south elevation has, to the east, two six-over-six sashes on the lower two storeys with a casement window on the top floor. The two other ground-floor windows are wide, small-paned casements. On the first floor are a casement and a sash window, with three square sashes irregularly spaced on the attic floor.

A small single-storey extension to the south-west is constructed of brick with a slate roof and a modern entrance door and small window. Part of this building contains the utility room and provides access from the garden to the kitchen and the other part is used as a store.

The north elevation facing the street is five bays wide, of which the eastern two bays have two blind openings on each floor. On the ground floor on the far west bay is a service entrance door with two short casement windows in the other two west bays. The first floor is dominated by a tall arched staircase window in the centre with two sash windows of different sizes in the west two bays. The upper floor has one blind opening in the centre with two short sashes to the two bays to the far west.

The meeting house abutts another building on the west side.

INTERIOR: the internal walls are masonry or timber stud and are mainly lined with lath and plaster. The ground plan is determined by the location of the staircase which is set against the centre of the north wall. A corridor on the upper floors runs east-west; the original entrance hall would have been in the same location. The original hall has since been combined with the north-east room which is now the meeting room.

The meeting room has a dentil cornice and a dentil dado, as well as window shutters and a modern chimneypiece. Above the door from the former entrance hall to the stairwell is another semi-circular fanlight with a keystone (the doors are modern). The main entrance leads into a small lobby with access to the library. This room has a moulded chimneypiece with a corbelled mantelshelf and cast-iron grate. The windows retain their original shutters. To the west of the library is a dining room with a blocked fireplace and there is a kitchen with the oven set into the fireplace opening; both rooms have ceiling beams. In the north-west corner is another small meeting room with the former service entrance to the street.

The open-string staircase is of oak with turned balusters and newels in the shape of Doric columns. The upper two floors largely retain the original plan but have been divided into six bed-sitting rooms, a counselling room, and the warden’s flat on the top floor. Two bedrooms on the first floor contain fireplaces with grates similar to that in the library and the second-floor rooms above these two contain blocked fireplaces. The first-floor corridor has another arched opening with a keystone, echoing that on the ground floor. The first and second floors comprise timber floorboards over timber joists and with exception to the warden’s flat, all ceilings are lined with lath and plaster.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Butler, D M (Author), The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain, Volume 1, (1999), 240
Architectural History Practice, 2016, Friends Meeting House, Winchester, accessed 13 April 2020 from
Quaker Meeting Houses in Great Britain 2017, accessed 13 April 2020 from
Winchester Quakers: History of the Meeting House, accessed 14 April 2020 from


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: 21 Sep 2004
Reference: IOE01/11094/36
Rights: Copyright IoE Micaela Basford. Source Historic England Archive
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