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Tour of Friends' Meeting Houses

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A well supported tour of Friend’s Meeting Houses on Saturday 17 October proved to be a fascinating end to our programme of visits for 2015. Members meet outside Clevedon Meeting House.







We began at Portishead Meeting House the oldest Quaker foundation of the three. Dating from 1669, this thatched meeting house was probably converted from a cottage. It has the quintessential plain, undecorated interior, designed for undistracted contemplation and silence. We were met by Linda Hughes-Sharpe, the Elder of this Meeting, who told us about its history and its present life and then visited the charming garden and burial ground.




 

We then visited Clevedon Meeting House, a nineteenth-century foundation, dating from 1868, with a large, much-used premises and pleasant garden, similar in design to that built at Yatton around the same time (now in use as the public library). We were met by Tom Leimdorfer (Clerk to the Clevedon Meeting) who told us about the history of the Quakers in Celvedon, and the various uses, in addition to Meeting for Worship, to which the building is now put, including at the time of our visit a lecture about surrealist paintings.




Our final visit was to Claverham Meeting House, in what is now a very quiet, rural lane. The Meeting began in the 17th century. The present building, with its attractive façade and sundial, dates from 1729, when the meeting was well attended by the villages and farms around. The arrival of the railway in the 1860s to Yatton altered the centre of gravity, and a new meeting house was built there (now the public library).

Tom Leimdorfer told us about the history of the Meeting and the building and showed us the burial ground. Claverham has always supplied compassionate accommodation, and the two wings which were almshouses are still used, one to accommodate the resident Friend (warden) and the other for retreats. This building is now run by a Trust, and is no longer owned by the Society of Friends, though the meeting is still held there once a month. The generosity of members for the tea and cakes provided enabled us to make a significant donation to the Claverham Meeting House Trust.

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