Friends meeting house

A Friends meeting house is a meeting house of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), where meeting for worship is usually held. Typically Friends meeting houses do not have steeples.

Quakers do not believe that meeting for worship should occur in any special place. They believe that “where two or three meet together in my name, I am there among them” (Revised English Bible, Matthew, Ch 18, v 20). Therefore, meeting for worship may take place in any place. Early Quakers often met for worship outdoors or in local public buildings. However, when the Religious Society of Friends began to grow there became a need for buildings to house their meetings.

Quakers have always reserved the word church to mean the body of people who make up the worshipping community: Quakers do not use the word church to refer to the bricks and mortar of a worshipping community. George Fox, an early Quaker, spoke of places of worship that have steeples as steeple houses, and those that do not as meeting houses. This practice is shared by a number of other non-conformist Christian denominations, including Unitarians, Christadelphians, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mennonites.

Some Friends meeting houses were adapted from existing structures, but most were purpose-built. Briggflatts Meeting House is an example of the latter. The hallmark of a meeting house is extreme simplicity and the absence of any liturgical symbols. More specifically, though, the defining characteristics of the Quaker meetinghouse are simplicity, equality, community, and peace. Though never explicitly written or spoken about, these tenets (or “Testimonies”) of Quakerism were the basic, and only, guidelines for building a meetinghouse, as was seen through the continuity of the use of Testimonies within meetinghouse design. While meetinghouse design evolved over time to a standardization of the double-cell structure without explicit guidelines for building, the meetinghouse’s reflective architecture revealed a deeper meaning. The meetinghouse design manifested and enhanced Quaker Testimonies and the cultivation of the Inner Light that was essential to Friends. Quakers easily moved from one place of meeting to another, but when given the opportunity to design and construct their own place of meeting, Friends infused their Testimonies in the planning, design, and construction of the building.

Meeting Houses built in a traditional style usually had two meeting rooms: one for the main meeting for worship, and another where the women’s business meeting may be held (often referred to as the women’s meeting room). Meeting houses of this style usually have a minister’s gallery at one end of the meeting room, where traditionally those traveling in the ministry would have sat, with an elders bench immediately in front of this. Wooden benches facing this occupy the rest of the room, often with a gallery for extra seating. Meeting houses of this style usually have high windows so that worshippers sitting in meeting for worship cannot see outside.

Meeting houses built in a more modern design will usually consist of: a large meeting room, smaller rooms for committees, children’s classes, etc., a kitchen and toilets.

The meeting room itself is a place for Friends to withdraw from the world. The windows are set sufficiently high that worshippers will not be distracted by the activities of the world’s people outside, or in some cases they provide a view into the meeting house garden. The seating was originally long, hard and wooden. Today it is usually separate chairs but the layout remains the same – a square or rectangle facing inwards to a central table.


United Kingdom
Briggflatts Meeting House, near Sedbergh, Cumbria, England
Brighton Friends Meeting House, Brighton, East Sussex, England
Coanwood Friends Meeting House, in an isolated, unpopulated valley south of Hadrian’s Wall, about 2 miles (3 km) east of the village of Coanwood, and about 5 miles (8 km) south of the town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland, England
Come-to-Good Friends Meeting House, Kea, near Truro, Cornwall, UK. It was also known as Kea Meeting House and Feock Meeting House.
Godalming Friends Meeting House, Godalming, Surrey, England
Ifield Friends Meeting House, Ifield neighbourhood of Crawley, West Sussex, England
Jordans Friends Meeting House, Buckinghamshire, England
Leicester Friends Meeting House
Littlehampton Friends Meeting House, Littlehampton, part of the Arun district of West Sussex, England
Osmotherley Friends Meeting House, North Yorkshire, England
Petts Wood Friends Meeting House, Kent, England

The historic meeting house of Congénies (Southern France), since 1788
United States
Abington Friends Meeting House, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Alloways Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Hancock’s Bridge, Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County, New Jersey
Amesbury Friends Meeting House
Appoquinimink Friends Meetinghouse, Odessa, Delaware
Arch Street Friends Meeting House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Arney’s Mount Friends Meetinghouse and Burial Ground, Burlington County, New Jersey
Beekman Meeting House and Friends’ Cemetery, LaGrangeville, New York
Benjaminville Friends Meeting House, McLean County, Illinois
Birmingham Orthodox Meeting House, Birmingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
John Bowne House, Flushing, New York, 1661
Bradford Friends Meetinghouse (Marshallton Meeting House), Marshallton, West Bradford Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Brooklyn Friends Meetinghouse and School, Downtown Brooklyn, New York, New York
Caln Meeting House, Caln Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania
Camden Friends Meetinghouse, Camden, Delaware
Catawissa Friends Meetinghouse, Catawissa, Columbia County, Pennsylvania
Centre Meeting and Schoolhouse, Centerville, New Castle County, Delaware
Chappaqua Friends Meeting House, Westchester County, NY buily in 1754
Chichester Friends Meetinghouse, near Boothwyn, Upper Chichester Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Clinton Corners Friends Church, Clinton Corners, Dutchess County, New York
Colora Meetinghouse, Colora, Cecil County, Maryland
Conanicut Friends Meetinghouse, Conanicut Island, Jamestown, Newport County, Rhode Island
Concord Friends Meetinghouse, Concordville, Delaware County, Pennsylvania
Concord Hicksite Friends Meeting House, east of Colerain, Belmont Coungty, Ohio
Cornwall Friends Meeting House
Creek Meeting House and Friends’ Cemetery, Clinton Corners, Dutchess County, New York
Crum Elbow Meeting House and Cemetery, East Park, Dutchess County, New York
Deer Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Darlington, Harford County, Maryland
Deep River Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, High Point, North Carolina
Dover, NH Friends Meetinghouse, Dover, Strafford County, New Hampshire
East Hoosac Quaker Meetinghouse, Adams, Berkshire County, Massachusetts
East Nottingham Friends Meetinghouse or Brick Meetinghouse, Rising Sun, Cecil County, Maryland
Easton Friends North Meetinghouse, Middle Falls in Washington County, New York
Evesham Friends Meeting House, Mount Laurel Township, Burlington County, New Jersey
Frankford Friends Meeting House, Frankford neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frankford Monthly Meeting, Frankford neighborhood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Free Quaker Meetinghouse, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Friends Meetinghouse (Uxbridge, Massachusetts)
Friends Meetinghouse, Wilmington, Delaware
Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, Little Compton, Rhode Island
Great Friends Meeting House
Green Plain Monthly Meetinghouse, near South Charleston, Clark County, Ohio
Greenfield Preparative Meeting House (Catskill Meeting House), Grahamsville, Sullivan County, New York
Hockessin Friends Meetinghouse, Hockessin, New Castle County, Delaware
Honey Creek Friends’ Meetinghouse, New Providence, Iowa
Hopewell Meeting House, Clear Brook, near Winchester, Virginia
Jericho Friends Meeting House Complex, Jericho, Nassau County, New York
Little Egg Harbor Friends Meeting House, Tuckerton, New Jersey
Little Falls Meetinghouse, Fallston, Harford County, Maryland
Live Oak Friends Meeting House, Houston, Texas
Meeting House of the Friends Meeting of Washington, Washington, DC
Merion Friends Meeting House, Merion Station, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Mill Creek Friends Meetinghouse, Newark, New Castle County, Delaware
Nine Partners Meeting House and Cemetery, Millbrook, New York
Oblong Friends Meeting House, in the hamlet of Quaker Hill, in the town of Pawling, Dutchess County, New York
Old Kennett Meetinghouse, Kennett Township near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
Old Town Friends’ Meetinghouse also known as Aisquith Street Meeting, Baltimore Meeting or Patapsco, Baltimore, Maryland
Pembroke Friends Meetinghouse, Pembroke, Plymouth County, Massachusetts
Portsmouth Friends Meetinghouse Parsonage and Cemetery
Poughkeepsie Meeting House (Hooker Avenue), Poughkeepsie, New York
Poughkeepsie Meeting House (Montgomery Street), Poughkeepsie, New York
Race Street Friends Meetinghouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sandy Spring Friends Meetinghouse, Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland
Schuylkill Friends Meeting House, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Seaville Friends Meeting House, Seaville community, Upper Township, New Jersey, Cape May County, New Jersey, this 1716-1727 meeting house is the smallest frame Quaker meeting house in the United States.
Smith Clove Meetinghouse, Highland Mills, NY
Smithfield Friends Meeting House, Parsonage & Cemetery
South River Friends Meetinghouse, Lynchburg, Virginia
South Starksboro Friends Meeting House and Cemetery, Starksboro, Vermont
Stony Brook Meeting House and Cemetery, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey
Third Haven Meeting House, Easton, Talbot County, Maryland
Upper Dublin Friends Meeting House
West Grove Friends Spring Meeting House, Alamance County, NC
Yardley Friends Meeting House, Yardley, Pennsylvania
York Meetinghouse, York, York County, Pennsylvania

Source from Wikipedia