Quakers Hill, Mundesley Road, North Walsham NR28 0RF
Meeting for worship Sundays at 10.30 am
OS map ref: TG 28524 31745 click to see map
|Disabled access:||To all parts of the Meeting House and garden. Hearing loop.|
|Parking:||Ample space on site.|
|Rooms for hire:||The main Meeting room will accommodate up to 50 people. There is a fully fitted kitchen with electric kettles, electric cooker, fridge, water heater, mugs, plates and cutlery. One of the two toilets is fitted with disabled facilities. All areas have electric lighting.|
History of the Meeting House
In 1692 North Walsham’s original meeting house was built on land given by William King, by legal deed through the Court of the Manor of North Walsham, for Quakers to use. Almost eighty years late it was destroyed by fire and the present meeting house was built in 1772 on land bequeathed by James Empson a Quaker and a wealthy miller.
At that time there were some prosperous Quaker families in North Walsham and they ensured that the new Meeting House was well built and properly furnished. It is a perfect example of a Georgian rural Meeting house, a brick building of fine proportions with lovely black pantiled roofs lined with Norfolk reed for insulation. There is a brick on an outside wall with the date 1772 and the initials S.G. reputed to be of Samuel Gurney. Another bears the initials M.R – possibly one of the Rime family who have since become well known in the lawn-mower world.
Numbers of Quakers declined greatly during the 19th century, due to the prohibition of Quakers marrying non-Quakers, and the Meeting House was closed. It was not until 1913 that it was re-opened, not for worship but as an adult school which continued until 1943.
In 1954 Meeting for Worship was revived in the area, first in people’s homes and then back in the Meeting House after its partial restoration. Although sometimes numbers have been down almost to zero, the Meeting has kept going since that time thanks to the endeavours of a few devoted Friends; Eric and Joyce Rutter among them.
In the 1990s an extensive programme of renovation and restoration was carried out and the simple beauty of the building with its original galleries, ministers’ `stand’ and the elders benches still in position.
Although no really famous individuals feature in the history of North Walsham Meeting some of the family names involved are significant in the history of England. The Ransomes have already been mentioned and were originally millers and ironmongers. Robert Ransome moved to Ipswich in the late 18th century and founded the world famous engineering firm,. There are Ransome graves in our burial ground.
Members of the Gurney family also lived locally as well as at Earlham, Norwich and elsewhere and their name is still well known in East Anglia. Elizabeth Fry, who inspired reformation of the dreadful conditions in prisons in the 19th century, was a Gurney before she married though it is not known whether she ever visited North Walsham.
Even though the town is creeping ever nearer this is still a truly rural Meeting House and the sound of birds and sheep often accompany our Meetings for Worship.