Pardshaw – Quaker Meeting House
Pardshaw and Pardshaw Hall were strongholds of Quakerism from its early days. While the churches in most parishes, including Dean, had to meet the challenge of Methodism and Baptists, the Rector of Dean had even earlier to contend with what was virtually a Quaker enclave within the Parish.
George Fox preached on Pardshaw Crag in 1650 drawing huge crowds.
A meeting of Friends, the first to be settled in Cumberland, began in a private house in 1653. As this meeting grew in numbers, it could not be contained indoors and met for many years in the open air on Pardshaw Crag. In time the meetings during the winter were divided amongst Friends’ houses in Lamplugh, Pardshaw, Whinfell and Eaglesfield. Eventually, in 1672, a meeting house was built at Pardshaw and this was enlarged in 1705.
For about a century this was the largest country meeting in England. No traces of this building now remain.
In 1728 a decision was taken to build a new meeting house in the Guards near Pardshaw Hall, including a women’s meeting house and a walled burial ground. Some of the materials from the original meeting house were used in the construction of the new building and a lintel bearing the date 1672 may still be seen above the doorway to stables built in 1731. Later additions included a porch, schoolroom and carriage shed.
The meeting closed in 1923 but the Meeting House and burial ground remain at Pardshaw Hall, still in occasional use, and the venue for an occassional local arts and musical festival, and as a hostel for Young Friends.
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