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The History of Carlisle Quaker Meeting

From 1693 to 1740 Friends met in the Carlisle district as part of the Burgh (Moorhouse) Monthly Meeting, from 1740 to 1964, as part of Carlisle Monthly Meeting and since 1965, Carlisle Preparative Meeting has been part of Carlisle and Holm Monthly Meeting. But in 2007, along with all Quaker Meetings in Britain, Carlisle Preparative Meeting changed its name to Carlisle Local Meeting; and Carlisle & Holm Monthly Meeting became North Cumbria Area Meeting, and now Cumberland Area Meeting.

Carlisle Castle

Friends in Carlisle were amongst the earliest in the country to possess a meeting house as in 1653 a house in the Abbey Close was acquired for 'the furtherance of truth'. This meeting house was visited by George Fox in 1653 when he came out of prison in Carlisle Castle. Meetings continued to be held with difficulty until 1660. Friends were sometimes locked out of the meeting house and meetings were sometimes held in the Cathedral itself. During the reign of Charles the Second the premises were taken from Friends and meetings were subsequently held for almost twenty years in Scotby.

At the end of the 17th Century attempts were made to re-establish the meeting in the city at the home of the Quaker, Isaac Huntingdon. When the numbers attending the meetings increased premises were bought in Fisher Street in 1702, where there were already two Friends' burial grounds.

The new premises adjoined one of the burial grounds and the Sun Inn. They proved too small and in 1710 Quarterly Meeting sanctioned alterations and enlargements to accommodate Yearly Meeting for the Northern Counties in 1711. By 1776 this enlarged meeting house was deemed unsatisfactory and it was sold to the Wesleyan Methodists. Subsequently the site was successively occupied by a church and a hall of the Church of Scotland.

A new meeting house was erected in 1776 on another site in Fisher Street, closer to the city centre and this was enlarged in 1864. The burden of maintaining the meeting house eventually became too heavy for the small meeting (at that time Carlisle Meeting only had 10 members), and it was sold in 1962 for £7,000, becoming first a shop and currently a cafe.

A site was available at the top of Fisher Street on the corner of Corporation Street. This was the other burial ground which had been purchased by Friends in 1681. On this site, the present meeting house was opened in 1963. Already some of the land had been purchased compulsorily in anticipation of the new inner ring road which was opened in 1972. The meeting house when first opened was in Corporation Street, but on completion of the ring road the address once again became Fisher Street, whence the Meeting House is accessed.. 

The meeting house has a meeting room that can seat 100. There is also a  smaller room for housing the library and used for our after-Meeting tea and coffee, a kitchen and toilets. There is disabled access at the rear. The Meeting House is available for room hire by suitable groups and organisations (for details, see the main page).

We now have about 40 active members and attenders, and normally on a Sunday you will meet 15 to 25 of us!