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Quaker Leader Visits Peterborough

1660

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George Whitehead visited Peterborough in this year. Travelling with other Friends (which is how Quakers addressed each other then and many still today) through neighbouring counties he arrived in the city. He wrote, “I was much pressed in Spirit to endeavour for a Meeting in the City of Peterborow, tho’ I heard of no Friends there to receive me.” A Meeting for Worship was arranged and was well attended by Friends from neighbouring areas and by local townspeople and, despite considerable abuse and violence from a mob, who considered Friends heretics, the gathering ended quietly in the afternoon, and Friends “…parted peaceably without molestation or disturbance.” His visit did not result in establishing a Quaker Meeting in Peterborough. George Whitehead (1636–1723) was a leading early Quaker preacher, author and lobbyist remembered for his advocacy of religious freedom before three kings of England. His lobbying in defence of the right to practice the Quaker religion was influential on the Act of Uniformity, the Bill of Rights of 1689 and the Royal Declaration of Indulgence. He suffered imprisonment and abuse for his beliefs.





Quakers Move to Peterborough to Join Baker Perkins

1933

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In 1933 Joseph Baker Engineering of Willesden moved to be Baker Perkins in Peterborough and a significant number of Friends (Quakers) moved with them. As the time for the move from Willesden to Peterborough approached, many weekend trips were organised to enable the Willesden employees to find accommodation. Some of these were undertaken by bicycle. Satisfactory arrangements were made for the necessary housing at no cost to the Company. Between March and September 1933, most of the Friends (Quakers) who had agreed to make the transfer were re-housed in a new development in Willesden Avenue. On 18th June 1933 meetings for worship started in an upstairs room of a warehouse in King Street.





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Peterborough Quaker Meeting House Openned

1936

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Peterborough Quaker Meeting House was opened. Designed by Quaker architect, Leonard Brown, from Welwyn Garden City hence some resemblance to architecture there. Built on the paddock/orchard/kitchen garden of Orchard House. Legend has it that Mrs Scott, of Orchard House, said she would much prefer Quakers at the bottom of her garden. Features:  A large Meeting Room, a smaller ground floor room which could be divided into two ‘class rooms’ by an oak surfaced folding door, a large kitchen and toilets. The all electric heating system was very advanced for 1936. The Meeting Room was heated by electric convector heaters built into the ceiling and electric skirting board heaters round the perimeter. A large car park was ambitious yet now inadequate. The front of the building faces south to the terrace and garden whilst the back is to the north and the entrance off Thorpe Road. This arrangement has been expressed cryptically as “The front faces the back and the back faces the front.”  The land cost £650 and the building (John Cracknell Ltd) £1900.
   





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Quaker Garden Redeveloped

2010

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Redevelopment of the large garden in which the Meeting House was situated was started to provide an attractive and peaceful facility for members, users and the community of Peterborough to enjoy. Planting is designed to reflect what Quakers refer to as testimonies to their key beliefs which are Truth and Integrity, Equality and Community, Peace and Earth and the Environment.  A labyrinth is a well used addition.  





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Quaker Meeting House Modernised

2017

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Solar panels were installed few years earlier and in 2017 the internal walls of the Meeting Room were removed and thoroughly insulated, loft insulation improved, windows & doors replaced with current standard double-glazed units. The kitchen was refurbished to contemporary standards. The Meeting House continues to be used not only for the benefit of its worshipping members but for many groups large and small from the Peterborough community. Many feel the Meeting Room’s simple design and plain decoration is particularly peaceable and conducive to good meetings. This is a tribute to the architect, Leonard Brown. The garden and labyrinth contribute in no small measure to the overall feeling of calm and restoration. Peterborough Quakers continue a long tradition of involvement in the community serving as hospital, hospice, prison and university chaplains and applying their dearly held testimonies to peace, sustainability, equality and simplicity.        





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