One of the things I love about working for MBS is the chance to visit so many meeting houses and churches. Each looks different, each reflects the time and place that it was designed, built, or renovated. There is a collection of images on Flickr created by a Quaker photographer John Hall – well worth looking to see if you recognise any of the buildings, or just enjoy a virtual visit around the country – and abroad.
The English Heritage Quaker Meeting House project was done during 2015 & 2016 with the report being presented at Bath Britain Yearly Meeting Gathering (YMG) as a special interest group. The room was a reasonable size but the group overflowed, not only standing room but also into the corridor as people gathered to hear about how special our buildings are – I loved hearing non-Quakers tell us what a wonderful resource and heritage that Quakers across Britain had preserved.
During the survey a total of 345 meeting houses were visited across Great Britain: 324 in England, 12 in Wales, 7 in Scotland and 2 in the Channel Islands. You can read more about it and download the reports for each building, as well as the national overview report on their website: http://heritage.quaker.org.uk/ Central England Quakers used that information to produce their own booklet, showing a Quaker time line against the founding of each of their meetings.
Reading through the national overview report, and listening to the presentation what struck me was the love that people have for these buildings and gardens and how interesting each one was. Although in Norfolk and Waverley – the survey shone a light on the buildings (ten, of which six are listed) noting that all buildings were loved but often by just one or two people locally, and where the Premises person was often was 90+ years old and still climbing ladders.
Visiting other meeting houses, and churches can create connections, share good practice and give inspiration on how to deal with problems in your own building. It can be a joy as well as a recommended practice in Qf&P 12.12.