Local Quaker History

Muswell Hill Quaker Meeting is over a hundred years old, celebrating its centenary in 2010 with a community planting of 100 saplings together with Haringey Mayor, Councillor Eddie Griffith (pictured below), and the local MP of the time, Lynne Featherstone (pictured left).

Lynne’s successor, Catherine West MP, is one of the two current Quaker MPs in the UK and is shadow Foreign Minister (Europe and Americas). She gave the Quaker Swarthmore Lecture in 2017 on ‘Faith in politics?’. Listen at: https://www.woodbrooke.org.uk/resource-library/2017-swarthmore-lecture-audio/.

The Quaker Meeting in Muswell Hill was established in 1910, though it was yet to find a permanent building. The minute books from the first business meetings show what was important to the first Quakers in Muswell Hill. As well as arrangements for holding Meetings, Quakers were very aware of the growing unrest in the international situation. With the outbreak of war in 1914, Quakers in Muswell Hill joined in protests against compulsory military service. Quakers’ action on peace matters and support for conscientious objection continued throughout the war.

The Meeting House in Church Crescent was built some years later in the 1920s on land that had been part of Upton Farm. Designed in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style by Quaker architect, Fred Rowntree, from the outside it resembles a simple barn, echoing the simplicity of original Meeting Houses, some of which had been country barns. The pitched roof and high beams of the main meeting room create a sense of space and light despite the small leaded windows along the sides. Its official opening in July 1926 brought together representatives of all the local churches.

In the years since the Meeting House was opened, the meeting has flourished. There has always been a mix of ages in the Meeting, young families and older Quakers, some of them staying for many years, while others were part of the Meeting for just a few years.

Thanks to various extensions of the building in the 1960s and 1980s, and the work of the wardens, the Meeting House now provides a valuable service to the community. It is used by a whole variety of groups, including not only the playgroup but also other children’s groups, yoga classes and campaigning groups, notably CND, Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth. We hope that our Meeting House will continue to be a place of welcome for many more years to come.