Local Quaker History

The time came, in 1715 when it was considered necessary to have a meeting house in which members of these house-meetings might assemble for worship. As has been said already there were several of these meetings and a convenient centre had to be found to which they could all come. This explains why the building was not erected at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill being in those days, and still, an inaccessible place approached only by a narrow lane which came to and end there. So in the bottom of the valley two miles away a piece of land was acquired and on it a meeting house was built. It stood really in the hamlet of Crawshawbooth at the junction of three roads, the two already spoken of, and the road from Newchurch, the place of the first clearing and settlement of the Forest of Rossendale, which joined them on the other side of the bridge.

It was a very small meeting house, only half the size of the present building, with which it was incorporated twenty years later. Underneath it is a stable in which the Friends who came to meeting stabled their horses and their asses.

In 1722 John Birtwistle by a declaration appropriated the interest of £20 towards the supply of hay for Friends horses, and for the poor or for the repair of the meeting house. Later we find two gifts, by James Haworth in 1735 and John Barnes in 1743, given upon trust the interest to be paid to the families who entertained Friends on religious service. This interest is still drawn though it is the members of Monthly Meeting who are entertained nowadays. But the amount is very small.

Such bequests as these throw a flood of light on the conditions obtaining in the district when this building was erected. Towards the cost subscriptions came from the adjourning Monthly Meeting known as Hardshaw, from its five constituent meetings:- Penketh £2.13s., Bickersteth £1.2s.10d., Coppull £1.4s., Liverpool 11s., and Manchester 14s.8d. Its cost was about £60. The steps now leading up to the cottage are the steps to this meeting house and part of it forms the gallery of the present meeting house, the steps to this gallery being cut through what was the outer wall of this first building.

In 1736 the newer portion of the Meeting House was built. Before this time, however, the land round the first building was being used as a burial ground, the first burial taking place there in 1728. Even after the new building was finished the Friends were advised by Monthly Meeting not to use the “new hall” until it had been registered as a place of worship. The Monthly Meeting held there at this time was held in the Meeting House and not in the new hall.