Quaker Meeting House at Rawdon

A Website Prepared by Joanna Guise with Important Information on the Descendants of Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw 

One of the most important Grimshaw lines in the country of origin is that of  Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw, whose line is the subject of a companion webpage. Edward apparently “tenanted a messuage” in Rawdon, near Leeds in Yorkshire, in 1620. This location became the site of Ivy Hall, the residence of their descendants for Grimshaw descendants until 1902, nearly 300 years. Edward’s son, Abraham, was apparently born in 1603 (baptised July 5) and married Sarah (last name unknown); this couple had seven children, four boys and three girls, born generally from 1651 to 1664.

Abraham and Sarah were influential in the beginnings of the Quaker faith in Yorkshire. Joanna Guise has prepared an excellent website on the Quaker Meeting House at Rawdon, including important details on Abraham and Sarah Grimshaw and their descendants:


This “Grimshaw Origins” webpage is a near-duplicate of that of Ms. Guise. Slight modifications have been made to make the material more compatible with the format of this website, most significantly the inclusion of the material on a single webpage rather than multiple webpages as on Ms. Guises website. Note the section on Grimshaws shown in bold below.


Webpage Credits

Joanna Guise’s Website Title Page



The History of the Buildings

Glimpses from the Past — Early Days

Friends Burial Grounds

Attitudes to Women

Rawden Meeting

The Grimshaws of Ivy House

The Thompsons – Mill Owners and Merchants

Quakers in Rawdon – The Textile Connection

Poor Friends

Reminiscences from Maurice Barringer

Walls That Encircle Not Confine


The Future

References and Suggested Reading — Endnotes

Webpage Credits

Thanks go to Joanna Guise for doing the research and brochure preparation for the Quaker House at Rawdon and posting the results on her website where it is broadly available, including for the preparation of this webpage.

Joanna Guise’s Website Title Page

Quakers in Rawdon

Essays and Notes

1697 – 1997

Edited by Joanna Guise

Based on the 2nd Edition

Printed January 1998


The contents of Joanna Guise’s booklet on the Quakers at Rawdon are shown below from the original website.




Joanna Guise


The History of the Buildings


Joanna Guise


Glimpses from the Past

Early Days

Friends Burial Grounds

Attitudes to Women

Rawden Meeting

……… Monthly Meeting

Rawdon Friend’s School

Rawdon Adult School

More Recent Concerns

Indentures of land.


Joanna Guise


The Grimshaws


Eileen Jackson


The Thompsons


Eileen Jackson


The Textile Connection


Janet Davidson


Poor Friends


Howard Versey




Maurice Barringer


Walls That Encircle Not Confine


Nancy Nott




Vicki Griffiths


The Future


An Anthology




Illustrations and Drawings by David Griffiths,

Kenneth Beanland and others.

Photographs by Enid Sheldon, Joanna Guise

and from other sources.


One day, way back in 1989, Kenneth Beanland and I went to examine the Quaker Archives in Leeds University under the watchful and very helpful eye of Russell Mortimer. We were trying to find out what previous building work had been done at Rawdon, so that a more accurate assessment of how to restore the Meeting House could be made.

So, as the 300th Anniversary loomed, I longed to peruse the Archives again, in the hope of writing a history booklet.

On reflection, I was moved to invite members of Rawdon Meeting to compile essays on various topics and how wonderfully they responded!

We have all learnt a great deal about the Meetings history and I have learnt that a full history will take longer

“Thank you” to all the authors; to the artists, David Griffiths and Kenneth Beanland, to the photographer Enid Sheldon, who also helped me translate the B1 minute book, to Tabitha Driver at Friends House Library, to Mr. & Mrs. Martin, to Mr. & Mrs. Lawson, to Judith Wood, to William Matchell, and to the Custodians of the Quaker records deposited in the Special Archives, Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, to Jean and Russell Mortimer for their help with translation, history and a lot else besides and to everyone else who has contributed and supported this work.

“Thank you”, also to those past Quakers who will have to wait for another book, the Hirds, the Franklands , the Marshalls, the Coopers, the Whalleys and so many others.

Our present day “Advices and Queries”, includes these words;

“Take heed, dear Friends, to the promptings of love and truth in your hearts. Trust them as the leadings of God whose Light shows us our darkness and brings us to new life.”

Happy 300th Anniversary, Rawdon Meeting House and every blessing for your next three centuries.

The History of the Buildings

Rawdon Meeting House was built during 1697 on land that Quakers had originally purchased from Francis Rawdon of Rawden Hall.

Refer to the Indenture

On half an acre of the recently enclosed Rawdon Common the Meeting House and Burial Ground were established close to an existing house and stable.

The Meeting House is rectangular and is built of rubble filled gritstone walls with Queens Post trusses holding up a stone flagged roof.

As well as the initial cost of building Rawdon Meeting House and subscriptions towards the building of Askwith Meeting House in 1704-5 and York Meeting House 1718, the stable and walls and the Meeting House were repaired in 1719. Ten years later the Meeting House was enlarged, at the cost of £44, indicating the growth in numbers of Friends at Rawdon.

Map showing the position of the buildings with original extensions.

The 13th of ye 11th Mo 1729

It is agreed that ye Meeting house at Rawdon be enlarged one Bay of 4 ½ yds in length; Boarded new plaistered & False-roofed , And we whose are hereunto subscribed do Agree to give towards it as follows. [Ref. 1]

Facsimile from Minutes 13th Nov. 1729 [Ref. 2]

In 1817 expenses are listed for more extensive repairs and decorating. An eight day clock was bought for £5-0-0. and 1s 6d paid for a lock and two keys for it. £235 was spent in 1850 on improvements which included outbuildings at the back of the Meeting House.
All the buildings, the entrance gateway and attached wall were upgraded from grade III to grade II listed buildings of Special Architectural and Historic
Interest in 1988. In September 1989 a query was sent to the Architects Jill & Michael Sykes asking for advice about putting in an Induction Loop and repairing plaster on the back wall of the Meeting House. This led to a full timber survey, done on the 7th November, which indicated widespread problems due to woodworm, dry rot and wet rot, in part due to poor drainage of the site and lack of under-floor ventilation.
The timber survey also stated that “ridge timbers have split in places” and so a full structural survey was called for and done on 23rd November 1989.

Shearing of the ridge timbers, from woodworm damage, caused failure of the supporting roof timbers. Because of the extensive repairs, we were able to remove the steels posts that were installed in the 1960s.

Kenneth Beanland and I were present with Michael Sykes when the structural engineer came down the ladder from the roof space inspection. His face appeared as white as his safety helmet ! Serious problems, involving the stability of the roof itself, meant that the building was closed forthwith and a notice placed on the Meeting House door saying, “enter at own risk”. On arriving home in Otley I sat and prayed, somewhat desperately, as can be imagined, having already guessed the repair money required would be about £30,000.

It came to me that there would be no problem whatsoever in raising that amount and the future of the Meeting of Friends was assured. Following our next First Day Meeting in the Schoolroom I was humbled by the matter of factness and Faith of Rawdon Friends .

Lovingly supported by Leeds Monthly Meeting Friends and awarded a grant by English Heritage we approached 30 trusts and secured about £33,000, over two thirds of which came from local and national Quaker Trust Funds.

Many of these same Trusts were forthcoming when Rawdon Friends went ahead with restoring and adapting the Schoolroom, in 1992.

A well programmed computer was invaluable in letter writing, on both occasions.

The work on the Meeting House itself mainly consisted of major renewal of roof timbers, replacing the timber floor with concrete, putting a damp proof course in, treating all wood, taking the attached outbuildings away, rewiring and decorating.

Simon Firth, then a pupil at Benton Park School, liaised with Michael Sykes and George Firth of Gildersome Meeting, and made us a beautiful pitch pine table for the cost of the wood, and it was assessed for his technology exam. [Ref. 3]
It was with great joy that we held our Open Day on Saturday 14th September 1991 to celebrate opening up the Meeting House.

Kenneth Beanland and I knew of tentative plans drawn up for the Schoolroom in 1990 but let it rest until we had all recovered our breath, so to speak. New Wardens, Vicky and David Griffiths brought new energy to the Meeting and so we forged ahead again in 1992.

The restoration of both the Meeting House and the Schoolroom were undertaken with access and facilities for the disabled in mind. This led to a grant of up to 50% for such improvements as toilet facilities, ramped path and an Induction Loop System. [Ref. 4]


The Schoolroom work mainly consisted of taking down the old entrance and rebuilding a new one at the side, with a path within the grounds. The kitchen area was renovated and the building was treated and decorated.

As soon as it was opened, it became useful as a resource that was offered to the community which is what we had hoped for.

All in all, the end result is a fitting tribute to the work of Michael Sykes, architect, who died suddenly in 1996

Glimpses from the Past — Early Days

No booklet of this nature would be complete without it endeavouring to give some indication of the way of life of Quakers in early years and the practical and spiritual issues that concerned them.

George Fox, born at Fenny Drayton, Leicester was the founder of Quakerism . He was 23 years old when he started preaching in 1647, by which time the civil war was virtually at an end and England was continuing to undergo immense political and religious changes.

Friends were persecuted from the beginning. They refused to swear any oaths, pay tithes (church rates), or show the usual respect to Magistrates. Continuing to meet together in silence, elsewhere, they heckled priests sermons and dared to argue with them publicly.

William Dewsbury, (1621-1688) met George Fox several times in the North of England and went on to convince many with his preaching in and around Leeds in the 1650s..

The Quaker Act of 1662 was designed to crush Friends but by 1665 numbers had increased to 18,000. At about the same time 2000 clergymen were deprived of their livings because of their conscientious difficulties with the Book of Common Prayer. The Rawdon area saw a number of dispossessed clergy and nonconformists travelling around preaching. Francis Rawdon of Rawden Hall, Low Green, was a protector and friend of such folk. (The land that the Meeting House was built on was originally bought off Francis Rawdon.) In the late 1600s Oliver Heywood was one such itinerant and his Diaries [Ref. 5] indicate he was a regular preacher there and spoke with Josiah Collier whose brother Jeremy was a great Bradford preacher – Sarah Grimshaw ( Ivy House ) was Josiah Colliers daughter.
This indicates just a small portion of the network that existed between “like minds”.

We must not underestimate the sufferings of Friends, especially during 1660-1680, when despite various Acts aimed at breaking up the new movement, Quakers continued to meet and as a consequence were brought before the courts and suffered fines, imprisonment and even deportation.

Even after the Toleration Act of 1689, although Quakers were able to have meetings and license their own meeting houses, their refusal to pay tithes or serve in or contribute to the militia [Ref. 6]  brought further prosecutions which came to be known as “sufferings”. In time, these were documented and continue to be so to this day.“Besses Sufferings” records:-

1690 John Overend of Guiseley fined £16-13s-0d for Tithes.

1682 Henry Whitacre of Rawdon committed to goal for refusing to take an oath.

1690 Henry Whitacre fined £1-10s-6d for Tithes.

A contemporary estimate of Quaker sufferings put the number of the imprisoned nationally at about 11,000 with 243 deaths, mostly of prison hardships. [Ref. 7]

It was Sarah Grimshaw who applied for a licence by the justices to use her dwelling house as a Meeting Place. John Overends house in Guiseley and Henry Whitacer of Rawdons house were also licensed. Sometime after that the Grimshaws turned to Friends. Many of the Marshalls, however, turned to Baptists.

The first Trustees of the original land were:

Jeremiah Marshall of Burley Wood Head , Felmonger

Abraham Marshall of Burley Wood Head, Yeoman

Stephen Marshall of Yeadon, husbandman.

and conveyed to the following Trustees on 15th February 1697 : [Ref. 8]

Josiah Grimshaw of Rawdon, Clothier

Richard Hardaker of Rawdon, Clothier

William Hollings of Yeadon

William Butterfield of Rawdon, Weaver

Timothy Cowper of Rawdon of Rawdon, Clothier [Ref. 9]

Caleb Verity of Rawdon, Clothier.

and built in the same year. The house now called Quaker Cottage and possibly the stables, existed on the land already.

Collections for the building and its expansion were made in addition to those for supporting the poor and imprisoned Friends and their families.

The Meeting House at Rawdon was duly recorded as a place for religious worship in 1697.

Now this is where it would be delightful to quote from the first minute book, begun in 1693, ” a most antiquated parchment volume”; [Ref. 10] but alas, it has been mislaid since the 1940s. It was last seen in Rawdon Meetings safe. Please keep your eyes open for it and it may yet be found !

Licence for Rawdon Meeting House. [Ref. 11]

West Riding of Yorkshire

At the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace held at Wakefield by adjournment in and for the West Riding… on the 7th day of October in the year of the reign of our lord William the third by the grace of God king of England etc. the ninth before John Kay Lyon Pilkington baronets William Lowther knight WelburyNorton Robert Ferrand Richard Nettleton John Stanhope esquire and others their associates justices of the peace likewise etc.

Itt is ordered that the new erected house in Rawdon bee recorded as a place for Religious worshipp pursuant to the late Act of Parliament intittuled An Act to exempt their Majestyes Protestants subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the penaltyes of sundry penall lawes.

On behalf of the Court

J. Welbore clerk of the peace

Friends Burial Grounds

Refer to the Indenture.

It became known as Dibhouse burial ground and it is sad to note that amongst the earliest burials were those of the Overend family, who “dyed of feaver”, John and Margaret, his wife, along with Alice, Mercy, Nathan and Joshua. They were all buried between 18.3.1696 and 1.6.96.


The first Burial Ground local Friends had was in
Yeadon and was used from 1671 until 1699.

The gravestones of Nathan and Joshua Overend were later removed and
taken from Dibhouse to stand against the schoolroom wall at Rawdon.
Aged 36 and 39 years, they died within 3 weeks of each other.

In 1801 Rawdon Meeting sold the Burial Ground and Wood, and around
1890 most of it was covered by the Guiseley, Yeadon and Headingley
railway line, now disused.

Friends were concerned to demonstrate equality in death as well as life, so there have been times when gravestones were forbidden. Even now, if one is used, it is considered proper that only the name of the deceased with the date of birth and death are on it. The burial ground at Rawdon has upwards of 600 persons in it which may go some way to explain the higher level of ground within its walls.

Attitudes to Women

Consider the following from the minute book :- [Ref. 12]

At our Preparative meetting at Rawden this 24th day of ye 10th mo: 1701

Whereas we whose names are under written being Apointed

overseers by the Monthly Meetting having under our

considderation what may tend to promote the keeping good

order in our Meetting do give it as our sence & judgment that

it is not Agreeable to the order of truth that where any

women friends does Aprehend that there is any offense given

by any man friend to the meetting of friends that they the

women friends shall take upon them to speak to or deal with

such A man friend without Aquainting the men overseers

therewith it being the place of the men overseers to deal

with men as they in their judgment and Accordding to the

order of truth shall see meett and convenient women being

the weaker vessells ought not to take (upon deleted) the

place of men friends for in so doing they render our

Apointment insignifycate and to no purpose and may cause

disatissfaction to friends:Likewise do give it as our sence

and judgment that it is not Agreeable to the order of truth

established among friends for any person to manifest public

disunity with any ministring friends, testimony in A meetting

whilest such ministring friend has not had any gospell order

given him but stands in A full (deleted) capacity of full

unity both with monthly and Quarterly meettings so that all

things may be done decently and in good order and women as

well as men may Learn to know their places and keep them

that there may be no just occasion of reproach to truth nor

any heart burning one Against Another but all friends may

dwell together both in the love and fear of god

Jonas Butterfeild

Abraham Grimshaw

William Hollings

It would appear that the male Friends at Rawdon in 1701 who considered women as the weaker vessels, got pretty angry when they disturbed the “good order” in the meeting !

One of George Foxs Doctrinals printed in 1656 was called :-

“The woman learning in silence, or the mysterie of the womans subjection to her husband”.

Ten years later, in 1666, Margaret Fell, wrote a pamplet:- [Ref. 13]

George Fox married Margaret Fell, widow of Judge Fell of Swarthmoor Hall, Cumbria, in 1669. Let us hope to acquaint ourselves with Margaret Fells writing which for some readers will seem as radical in 1997 as it did in 1666.

Rawden Meeting

This section contains a few items from Rawdons second minute book (B1) to show some of the problems Friends had and how they dealt with them.

Most of the Minutes relate to the repeated collections for the poor and the named Friends who were to go to the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings, however, we do read some interesting variations.

Att our Preparative Meetting at Rawden [Ref. 14]

on ye: 27th of ye 8th mo: 1714

Whereas it is Comonly reported that Samuell Marshall Junior haith commited fornication with Margaret Ellis therefore we Appoint Jonas Butterfield and John Grimshaw ( and for them to desire Jereme Grimshaw to asist them) to speake to ye said Samuel Marshall to see If they can be instrementall to bring him to atone some of ye evill he haith done and for him to apeare at ye next preparative Meetting .—

At our preparative Meetting at Rawden

This 22d of the 10th Month 1714

Be it remembered That Samuel Marshall Junior And Margaret his now wife have given forth A paper of Acknowledgement and (Condemm crossed out) Containing Condemnation of The Evills They have done and Samuel publickly read it in The open Meetting ye first day Last and it is ordered to be Sent into this Month Meetting and also for him to Appear There to Morrow.

The discipline laid on Friends by the Elders was severe so that the new sect didnt attract criticism. It would appear that Friends were helped to see the folly of their ways, repent and be forgiven.

Rawden ye 9th of ye 7th mo: 1716

Collected for ye poor of ye monthly meeting

ye sum of—–00-09-0

Whereas I have given occasion of ofence to friends and

truth; in keeping on my hat some time in ye time of Publick

prayer I doo intend by ye Lords asistance to take away that

ocaision, for the time to come, wittness my hand



Refusing to doff hats marked Quakers out at a time when mens hats were large flamboyant affairs and were raised and flourished on meeting someone or as a mark of respect to a “superior”. Friends refused to take off their hats to anyone except God !

This, again demonstrated their earliest Testimony of Equality. This equality did not refer to status, ability or economic resources, but that of respect and the consequent absence of all words and behaviour based on class, racial or social distinctions. [Ref. 15]

At our preparative Meeting at Rawden

this 7th of ye first Mth 1716

This day the queries was read over and seaverealy answered to;

nothing apearing but friends walks pretty orderly thereunto and a note thereof sent to ye month meeting.

But eleven months later we read..

At our preparative Meeting ye 29th of 12th month 1716

We having under our consideration ye greate disturbance that Josia Grimshaw makes in oposing the testimony of truth when born amongst us to the greate disatisfaction of our Meeting therefore this Meetting have signed a paper signifie the same to the ,month Meetting and to desire the Month Meetting to allow us liberty to disown the meetting from the Meetting house.

Friends from the 18th century appear as hardworking, serious, caring folk, and it has been an honour to read these minutes.

Monthly Meeting

In the beginning Rawdon Preparative Meeting became part of Knaresborough Monthly Meeting which at one time included Netherdale (Darley) Askwith, Keighley and Farfield.
From 1798 Rawdon Meeting, whilst within Knaresborough Monthly Meeting, was entitled Rawden and Otley Preparative meeting until at least 1822.
When Knaresborough Monthly Meeting was dissolved in 1853 Rawdon Preparative meeting was incorporated into Brighouse Monthly Meeting.
Brighouse Monthly Meeting divided in 1923 and in 1924, Rawdon became part of Leeds Monthly Meeting along with Carlton Hill, Adel, Roundhay, Gildersome and Ilkley Meetings.

Rawdon Friend’s School

Rawdon Friend’s School, [Ref. 16] Low Green, Rawdon opened on April 2nd 1832; the land having been purchased for £1600 by September 1831. Initially a boys school, girls were admitted by 1835. There was a particular concern to educate offspring of poor Friends and children of attenders not in membership.
From the start, with means testing, fees varied from £8 to £16. Over the next fifty years several special appeals were made for extra funds from Friends. Additional land and buildings were purchased in the late 1860’s but in November 1876, a fire at the school destroyed about a third of the buildings. Children with no connection with Friends were admitted from 1876.

In 1920, the pattern of continual financial shortfalls was addressed and in 1921 the decision was taken to close it, 43 pupils moving to Ayton school.
Most of the school buildings survive including one with a stone, inscribed “Friends School”. The buildings now house small industrial units.
It may be true to state that Rawdon school never enjoyed enough capital outlay in the first instance and this fact, plus the growth of other local schools, dealt the final blow. However, it served a good purpose and there are past scholars who, to this day, have fond memories of it.

Rawdon Adult School

Rawdon Adult School was held first at High Fold, off New Road Side, in 1875, possibly as a joint venture with the Baptists. It later moved to the building opposite the Meeting House in Quaker Lane. This was sold in 1949 and became the Christian Science Church. We are grateful to this fellowship who kindly let us use it for Monthly Meeting whilst the Meeting House was being renovated.

Many Friends have joined the Society through their association with the Adult School Movement, the late Maurice Wilson being one. Rawdon Meeting now has a Study Group which meets regularly in the Schoolroom.

More Recent Concerns

Rawdon Friends sent money to the Society for the Gradual Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1825. Ten years later further monies were sent to North Carolina, America, to set up freed slaves in their new lives. It is an indictment on us all that The Society for the Abolition of Slavery still exists today and it considers that there are just as many people in enslavement now, if not more.

In 1871, Rawdon Friends sent £50 to the French War Victims Fund- for the relief of the Peasantry and other non-combatant sufferers under the care of the Committee of the Society of Friends.

Friends have, from the first, believed that the Commandment ” Thou shalt not kill” means just that ; so it is not surprising that mention is made, in the minutes, of such matters as letters to the Newspapers, and other local Christians. In 1935, a letter was sent to the then Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald regretting the increased armaments expenditure. Many Friends were conscientious objectors both in the 1914-18 and the 1939-45 wars.[Ref. 17]

Let us hope they have written their stories for future generations to consider?

At the end of the day, however much we are inspired by their good works, we should not lean on the worth of our predecessors but make our own “history”.

It is not what we can say of our ancestors

that is important

but more what they will say of us.

Many folk think that present day Quakers sit in dumb silence for hours, some think we meditate, but we sit, as a spiritual community and listen to what God is telling us. We try and consider Gods will in everything we do, in every decision we take and in our relationships. It sounds hard, and at times perchance it is, but as our predecessors at Rawdon knew, the rewards are infinite and eternal, both to us and those around us.

Perhaps, for me, my feelings about all I have read is best summed up in the words of Julian of Norwich, a late fourteenth century mystic and the first woman writer whose work survives.

Would you discern your Lords meaning in this thing?

Know it well.

Love was his meaning.

Who showed it to you? Love.

What did he show you? Love.

Why did he show it? Love.

Grasp hold of this, and you will grow in deeper knowledge of love.

But nothing else will you ever know—ever!   [Ref. 18]

Indentures of land.  [Ref. 19]

Indenture of the original lease.

Indenture of lease between Jereh. Marshall of Burley Wood Head and Stephen Marshall of Yeadon and Ann Grimshaw of Caverley – 20s paid to J.M. and others by said S.M. and A.G. and they the said J.M. and others assigned to S.M. and A.G. all that piece or parcel of land being part of a close containing by estimation 4 acres originally purchased of Francis Rawdon of Rawden in the parish of Guiseley with the appurtenances lying and being in Rawden and lately enclosed from the Common or Wastes of Rawden in a place called Benton Hill and adjoining upon one lane on the S. part and upon one other lane on the part and upon the lands of Thomas Hird on the N. and on the land of Abm Bates on the W part and whereupon there hath of late been built one house and one stable wherewith the out walls of the said buildings and other the walling and fencing already named (“and built about the same it is walled fenced and enclosed from off the said close containing about 20 yds in breadth and 30 in length with all the liberty and appurtenances thereto belonging together with full liberty to come and go set ladders and lay stones in and upon so much of the above mentioned close whereof the above premises are part as before described.”)

Part of the Burial Ground, purchased 20.Xl.1816 is freehold. The remainder of the property is leasehold, purchased in the years 1697, 1733 and 1791 for the residue of a term of 1000 years, created by Francis Rawden 23.IV.1632.

Indenture for Dibhouse Burial Ground

In the Pages of the “Yorkshire County Magazine” will be found a copy of Indenture of 1692 , showing that John Overend of Guiseley, clothier, by lease of 1670 and release of 1692 , did grant to Stephen Marshall, of Yeadon and John Hird, of Rawdon, parcel of land in Yeadon, fenced from a close belonging to Dibhouse farm, called Kilnclose, adjoining Mill Beck on West 200 yards x 15 yards and the adjoining plot 12 yards x 18 yards for a term of 5000 years, and that S.M. and J.H. for 5s. conveyed the same to Jonas Butterfield, Nathan Overend, James Frankland and Richard

Hardaker for a burial ground. [Ref. 21]

  • The Grimshaws of Ivy House. [Ref. 22]

In 1672 Sarah Grimshaw of Ivy House made an application for her home to be used as a regular Meeting Place. This was after Charles II had issued his Declaration of Indulgence granting freedom of worship to all non-conformists except Roman Catholics. Sarah entered her denomination as Independent.

The first Grimshaw at Ivy House was Sarahs father-in-law, Abraham Grimshaw I (1603-1670). He was a small farmer and clothier, who was discontented with the State Church. As early as 1632, two Rawdon dissenters had paid 20 shillings to purchase a piece of land called Benton Hill with plans for their own place of worship there.

Before they were able to build a meeting house the Independents met secretly at Buckstone Common under the huge rock. ( A yearly service is still held there to commemorate their courage) .

Sarah Grimshaw taught her children not to raise their hats to the gentry, not out of rudeness but because she did not believe in an attitude of servility to the ruling classes. For Quakers the annual tithes collected by the local parish church were a bone of contention. Many refused to pay and were imprisoned. The Book of Sufferings kept at the Quarterly Meeting at York records that in 1683 Sarah Grimshaw of Rawdon had taken on account of tithes by the servants of William Breary, priest of Guiseley or his agents – corn valued at £1.5s.

Sarah died in 1695 and was buried on a piece of land at Esholt Springs, Dib Lane, Guiseley, known as Quaker Wood after it had been released to the Dissenters as Dibhouse Burial Ground.

This is now part of William Matchells Timber Yard and has a commemorative stone to mark the site. [Ref. 23]

Her son Josiah had succeeded his father as Master of Ivy House and married Sarah Ibbitson of Ripon. His eldest sister Marie married James Frankland of Kirby Moorside. Both these marriage partners were Quakers. How did the young people meet ?

It can be assumed that Knaresborough Monthly Meeting enabled Quakers from surrounding villages to meet regularly. Substantial clothiers, like the Grimshaws, visited the wool fairs at Leeds, Pontefract, Wakefield and Ripon and their business contacts with other Quakers led in some cases to marriage.
The Quaker Meeting House at Rawdon was built in 1697, standing well back from the road and with a high wall in front of it. The ground was conveyed to the Trustees on 15th February 1697. A list of trustees included Josiah Grimshaw and several other clothiers from Rawdon. Quakers from surrounding parishes were also allowed to meet there and bury their dead in the graveyard. The opening of the new Meeting House as a recognised place of worship must have been a great occasion.

Family  Tree

In 1707 Josiahs younger brother, John moved to Calverley Carr and from him and Josiah sprang a prolific family, whose descendants are still to be found in the area today. Abraham, older son of Abraham and Sarah Grimshaw became a wool stapler and one member of this branch of the family married one of the Hustler family of Yeadon. John Hustler became the father of the Bradford wool trade.

Jeremiah, [Ref. 24]  the second born, was, through his son Joshua and his wife Jane the great-great-great grandfather of the Leeds artist John Atkinson Grimshaw. Jeremiah was one of a deputation which presented a “Humble Address” to George I from the Yearly Meeting held in London 26th May 1716. A Letter from Henry Gouldney to Sir John Rodes, 31st May 1716 relates ” honest Jeramiah Grimshaw was particulery showed to the King, and gave him a reverend bow, which the king was pleased to returne againe.”

Throughout this century the Grimshaws of Ivy House supported Rawdon Meeting. When sets of trustees were appointed in 1697, 1733 and 1797 included each time was the master of Ivy House. A pattern of family life there emerges. When a son succeeds his father as master of Ivy House, the widow or retired couple move into the cottage. Sons were apprenticed to their fathers as weavers whilst the women in the family did the spinning. When the cloth was ready it was taken down to one of the Leeds Cloth Halls to be sold.

In 1733 Abraham III was involved with others, including his cousin John in drawing up a new lease for the Meeting House. The Meeting House was licensed at the Quarter Sessions and provided that Friends paid their tithes they were left alone. It was laid down that Quakers should only marry within the society and this worked well in the case of the Grimshaws as records of births, marriages and deaths show.

The trustees indenture of 1765 reveals that Abraham III is the Ivy House clothier whilst Abraham Junior is the woolcomber.

The Grimshaws also served their local community, caring for the poor and looking after the highways in Yeadon.

Abraham IV and his wife Eleanor had a family of six boys and two girls.

In 1786, The eldest boy Joseph followed his father as clothier at Ivy House. Two of his brothers, Abraham and Aaron, also became clothiers and the youngest Benjamin a grocer, all in Yeadon.

There is evidence that Joseph tried to keep up with the inventions that were changing wool manufacturing methods. He erected a small, horse powered scribbling mill in his own yard, but larger textile mills were starting up. William Thompson built Low Mill down by the river at Calverley in 1796.

In 1797 we read that Joseph Grimshaw and James Thompson have both been appointed as Trustees of the Meeting House. Joseph Grimshaw is described as a worsted manufacture and James Thompson as a clothier.

In 1812 three families, descended from Abraham Grimshaw IV, left Rawdon Meeting after a quarrel there which had made Joseph Grimshaws position as first trustee untenable. The man who took his place was William Thompson of Low Mill.

Moving towards the latter years of the 19th century we find that the first Rawdon Rate Book dated 1878 states that yet another Abraham Grimshaw was the occupier of Ivy House and its land which had a rateable value of £34. This Abraham left Ivy House in 1889 and up to this time his entry in the street directory of Rawdon was Abraham Grimshaw – cloth buyer and farmer, Ivy House. He died in 1902 aged 68 and was buried at Rawdon Baptist Chapel, the last of the Grimshaws to live at Ivy House. [Ref. 25]

Photograph of Ivy House taken in 1996 by Enid Sheldon with kind permission of the then owners Mr.& Mrs. Lawson.

The Thompsons – Mill Owners and Merchants

The first of the three Thompson owned mills was built by William Thompson and his brothers at Calverley near the River Aire. This was Low Mill erected in 1796.

In 1798 Francis Thompson, youngest of the seven Thompson brothers, went to the USA. selling not only family made cloth but also any other woollen or cotton cloth which was given to him. A Quaker aged 30, he made Quaker friends in both Philadelphia and New York. He returned home in 1801 but went back accompanied by his nephew Jeremiah.

In 1808 Jeremiah came back to England. The older generation were dying so he and his brother William took over the business as Jeremiah and William Thompson, Woollen Manufacturers and Merchants. William was the resident partner managing the production of pieces and supplementing the Rawdon supply by buying goods privately or in cloth halls.

But in 1808 another interesting connection was to be established with a visit to the Thompsons by Samuel Marsden. This clergyman had been born in Farsley in 1764. He was the son of a small farmer, but fortunate enough in those days to get an education which led him to St. Johns College Cambridge where he studied for the ministry of the Church of England. In 1793 he was appointed chaplain to the penal settlement of Botany Bay in New South Wales.

It was here that the farmers son established a farm with a particular interest in rearing sheep and this soon began to prosper. Coming back to England in 1808 he brought some wool with him, which is described by William Thompson as “the first wool ever to come from the colony”. In a letter William states that after Samuel Marsden had dined with his father they went down to Park Mill and there he was asked to make “a piece of black cloth” from the wool Marsden had brought with him and turn it into a suit for the owner to wear. Marsden was so impressed with this that he wore it when visiting George III. The king admired it so much that he asked to have a coat made from the same cloth.

The story goes on that His Majesty was so impressed with the importance of wool to the colony of New South Wales that he made a gift of five or six of his best merino sheep at Windsor to Samuel. The latter reports in a letter that he landed “four and two lambs” in Australia.

Disappointingly the details noted above of Marsdens visit and the kings gift of sheep have not been confirmed by the Royal Archives at Windsor. Their records indicate that in 1804 six of George IIIs flock of merinos were sold to a Captain John MacArthur, who managed to get them to Australia, and he is generally credited with founding the Australian wool trade. The archives do state, however, that it is perfectly possible that Samuel visited George III in 1808 and may have bought or been given some sheep but they have no record of these events. [Ref. 26]

An article in the Airedale and Wharfedale Observer of Friday 30th. December 1904 states that in 1811 the first consignment of wool reached England and was sold in London.

The Thompsons also traded with the USA. In 1817 we find Francis and Jeremiah Thompson establishing, along with Isaac Wright another Quaker, and Benjamin Marshall whose wife was a Quaker, the Black Ball Line, the first of the New York to Liverpool packets. John Cox, author of “Quakerism in the City of New York 1637-1930″, describes Jeremiah Thompson as the largest importer of cotton into Liverpool at one time. Living there, Jeremiah was Clerk of New York Monthly Meeting 1814-1824. He had been transferred from Knaresborough Monthly Meeting in 1801. Back in Yorkshire the Thompsons were described in the Leeds Mercury as employing ” a vast number of families” (1827).

In 1833 we find the Thompsons of Larkfield, Park and Low Mills being interviewed by factory commissioners, seeking information on working conditions in the mills.

All three mills were steam driven and all employed children under ten years of age, though these were a minority. None of the Thompsons sanctioned corporal punishment, but J.R. and J. Thompson at Low Mill are adamant that an eleven hour day was “never found to injure the health of any children employed by us“.

Low Mill is now called Woodbottom Mills.The mill pond is all that remains of Park Mill and Larkfield Mill has gone and is built upon.

Quakers in Rawdon – The Textile Connection

For two centuries Quakers, debarred from entrance to English universities, were unable to follow professions such as Law. Their refusal to take an oath meant they could not hold public office nor enter Parliament. Their testimonies precluded a military career, and obviously the Church was not considered . Their talents were channelled towards industry, science and trade, where they gained a reputation for fair dealing and refused to bargain for goods, giving one fixed price at a time when haggling was the norm.

In Yorkshire Quakers became involved in the trade in woollen cloth as clothiers. Clothiers were entrepreneurs who organised the making of cloth on a large scale before the establishment of the factory system, at a time when cloth was made in the cottages of handloom weavers. They distributed the raw materials and collected the undyed cloth by packhorse, to take for finishing and sale.

When the four acres of land for the proposed Quaker Meeting House at Rawdon were conveyed to the Trustees on February l5th l697,four of the trustees were described as clothiers, Josiah Grimshaw , Richard Hardaker, Timothy Cowper and Caleb Verity. Another trustee William Butterfield, was a weaver.

The Rawdon Quaker connection with textiles continued in the eighteenth century, and the Bradford Quaker, John Hustler, was one of the prime movers in the promotion of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which enabled cloth to be carried more cheaply to Liverpool for export. Quaker clothiers were involved in the setting up of Cloth Halls in Yorkshire towns for the sale of cloth.

When some parts of the cloth production process began to be concentrated in small mills, Quakers in Rawdon were part of that process also. Low Mill(1796), Park Mill(1805) and Larkfield Mill ( 1824 ) were all owned or operated by members of the Thompson family, who along with the Grimshaws and Walkers are the most commonly recorded names in the Rawdon minute books and graveyard at this period.

Inevitably, therefore, Quaker mill owners were among those who were involved in the introduction of machinery in the early nineteenth century, and Low Mill was targeted by the Luddites.

In Yorkshire the occupational group most involved in machine- breaking were the croppers, who traditionally undertook a series of processes on rough cloth from the market , most importantly the raising of the nap of the cloth by teazles and shearing it with heavy hand shears. The gig-mill was an essentially simple device by which, instead of the nap being raised by hand, the cloth was passed between cylinders set with teazles, and employers and employees alike recognised that this and the shearing frame were bound to put skilled men out of work.

January and February 1812 saw a series of almost nightly attacks on mills in the Huddersfield and Spen Valley districts, and the attack on the Quaker-owned Thompson mill at Low Mill came in March 1812 .

However, the introduction of machinery into the textile industry was inexorable once it got fully underway and in the Leeds and Bradford areas spinning machines, power looms and combing machines were introduced in the next fifty years. By 1833 the Thompson millowners were answering the Queries of the Commissioners for the North East District about their workforce and methods of production that show they were very much in the mainstream of industrial change.

With the concentration of textile production in larger units (mills employing, say, between fifty and one hundred workers, many of those female and aged twenty or under) the number of small woollen manufacturers in Rawdon declined in the nineteenth century- one trade directory lists 35 coloured woollen manufacturers in 1838 and 20 in 1861. More detailed research in the future may reveal how many of the listed manufacturers were members of Rawdon Meeting, and how many of them adjusted successfully to the challenges of the new age and how many of them went out of business.

Poor Friends

During the first few years of the Quaker movement there existed no sort of organisation among the Children of Light [Ref. 27] as they were called. Individual seekers after truth had already been gathering into small groups even before they were convinced by the message of George Fox and other preachers but they were not prompted to seek any other association until the first wave of persecution fell on them at which time individual meetings began to support each other in providing for the needs of those in prison and the families left behind. One meeting would identify the poor friends and the several meetings would furnish the help. The monthly and quarterly meetings were set up in the 1660s at George Foxs instigation to ensure the survival of the Society of Friends after the deaths of many of the first leaders.

Subsequently, of course, the emphasis changed. The printed epistle from Yearly Meeting of 1719 reads;

With regard to the poor amongst us, it ought to be considered, that the poor, both parents and children, are of our family, and ought not to be turned off to any others for their support or education; and although some may think the poor a burthen, yet it be remembered, when our poor are well-provided for, and walk orderly, they are an ornament to our society; and the rich should consider, it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that he who giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord, who will repay.  [Ref. 28]


Already, in 1696, friends planning to leave money for the use of the poor had been enjoined to be careful that friends may not be deprived of their charity.

At the beginning of the eighteenth century a quarterly collection was being taken at the Rawdon meeting and given to the Monthly Meeting for the relief of poor friends’. The disclaimer in the minutes of the Womens Monthly Meeting (in 1761) that “Our poor are under the care of their Respective meetings” seems to have laid it on the individual meeting to identify such of its own as should be regarded as “proper objects of ye Charity” and make representations on their behalf. Preparative meeting also provided its own support for special cases and, in the earliest years of record, special collections were taken to help make good loss by fire (there was no suggestion in the Minute Books that the fires were other than accidental). In one instance a friend was helped with the fees for his sons to attend Rawdon Quaker School, in another a baker was given part of the cost of a horse. Coal and medicines also attracted relief.

A revealing entry records that :-

at our preparative meeting at Rawdon 23rd of ye 4th mo: 1703 Ffor as much as there was a piece of Black plain belonging to this Meeting for using at burials friends having Agreed to lay that Custom of Covering Coffins Aside it is Agreed that the said Black Cloth be converted into a Coat for Alice Crowther A poor friend: and what remains of ye said piece of Cloth After ye Coat is Made to be to such further use for ye said Alice Crowther as she has necessity. Note ye this meeting received ye value of ye said Cloth plain in money from the Mo: Meetting toward getting the said Alice a Coat. [Ref. 29] 

Monthly Meeting was called on here to provide its usua1 support. This was generally recorded as a specific payment but there are references to something like a dole or pension (e.g. . .Wm. Brewer being in Necessity 15/- to be requested and the usual allowance) . Mary Pratt was helped with various amounts from 1716 until 1758 (including an unspecified amount for her laying-in in 1726) and a minute for 21:8:73 reads,

The necessity of widow Pratt represented to this meeting to be increased thro her growing infirmity & age so as that her present monthly allowance of 5/- is not sufficient to (?) the same and more be requested for her

Funeral expenses did not generally attract relief but one minute

Laid down an account of Joseph Copley Child funeral and for their Necessary Supply in the line of his wife Extraordinary Indisposition since last Mo: 10s.0d. is to be requested at the Mo: meeting and necessities for Joseph Copley Wife and their other Child…

A month earlier, the meeting had been considering what to do about the said Joseph Copley Wife who was said to be much more out of order than she hath been ( i.e. was poorly ).

From the middle of 19th century, the quarterly collection for poor friends was augmented – more than doubled in fact – by the interest (£1.16.0 ) on a legacy from Hannah Hustler. A separate collection for the Society of Friends County Donegal Seed Fund in 1883 brought in £2.15. 6..but provision of support and the identification of “objects” had fallen off by this time and in 1900 the collection was discontinued and the Treasurer simply authorised to pay £1 a month to the Monthly Meeting poor fund until this was reduced, at the end of 1901, to 15/- a month for the eight months in which we are asked to contribute to the fund.

Thereafter the Monthly Meeting poor fund was to be incorporated into its general stock fund. Perhaps Friends throughout the area shared a relative affluence with those of the Rawdon meeting where a minute for 1908 reads,

We had before us the position of members with regard to the Old Age Pension Scheme. None of our members are in a “position to accept such relief.  [Ref. 30]

Reminiscences from Maurice Barringer

Rawdon Meeting

I am sorry that in Pevsners book on the buildings of the West Riding he completely forgot, because he never visited, this Meeting House built in 1697. I can see how it happened; high stone walls and a very solid gate, obscuring path and building, blot it out from Quaker Lane. But Pevsner should have enquired. It is not to my mind a beautiful building, but I think it looked better with its ivy cloaking as I remember it, in the first few years of this century.
When I married I found I could, with pleasure, share my wifes recollections of Meeting and its Rawdon members.
Essie and I enjoyed our recollections of various Friends who frequently spoke in Meeting, such as George Ash, whose name appears on the building intended as a Sunday (or would it be Adult) School across Quaker Lane from the Meeting House. Whenever George Ash spoke, he always brought in the two words “notwithstanding” and “nevertheless”, and the subject was either Biblical Prophets or Early Friends. Or both.
I also have in mind the rather surprising occasion when an elderly female Friend arose in Meeting and sang (unaccompanied of course) through a hymn. I was in my early teens. For a “born” Friend, though a young one, this was almost a heresy. I could imagine the roof falling in. And so it very nearly did, but that was getting on for a hundred years later.

I did have an unorthodox pleasure in going to Meeting, in that there was quite a chance of seeing a mongoose, which often appeared at the window of the granary section of the Rawdon Co-Op Stores. Perhaps it liked its view of the “crocodile” of children walking past ? 

I was told it was an extremely effective rat-catcher. What a Sabbath recollection!

By the way, the acoustics of the Meeting House are good. I never had any
difficulty in hearing some very soft-pedal

By the way, the acoustics of the Meeting House are good. I never had any
difficulty in hearing some very soft-pedal speakers. Looking back to the time
when it was a “full” Meeting with the he-and-she arrangement of school
and staff of getting on for 100 added to non-school, it is a great change to see
the modest seating arrangement of today. The atmosphere has just the same
placidity as at Briggflatts, which I have visited so many times in my Dales
days, though never at worship times.
I dont know how long the small building opposite the Meeting House served its
purpose as Sunday or Adult School, but when I went back to Rawdon (though living at Ilkley) it was used by the Christian Scientists. Perhaps it still is. I have just remembered that there was once a factory close by ours at Larkfield on the hill top, operated by (presently Sir) William Cartwright, who manufactured Moorland Indigestion Tablets. He became a Christian Scientist and changed to Cake Mixtures. The change made me smile.

Rawdon Friends School

My two older brothers and myself had a somewhat peculiar upbringing in that though Rawdon was our home, we all went away to Ackworth to school. I expect that was because of our long family association with it, and probably to avoid any possible charge of nepotism. Both parents were at school there and my mothers father was for a time book-keeper there. My father taught there until appointed “Superintendent” at Rawdon in 1890, and my mother was “Mistress of the Household”, a grandiloquent title for a job that was really hard work; she was not nearly so easy-going as my father. It was in fact housekeeping for the whole establishment — staff, scholars, domestics, caterers; farm supplies, school books, equipment down to the last fire bucket — the whole issue.
And she was often quite poorly. Towards the end of the First World War she had the assistance of a girl who had been at school at Rawdon and then at Lloyds Bank in Leeds, and who became my wife in 1923. Essie died in 1990.
She remembered with great affection the senior Mistress of her time, a Miss Alsop, whom I remember with similar liking. And she recollected Richard Swain, the Senior Boys Master, and his children Norman and Barbara.
Joseph Spence Hodgson was an expert in the organising of Old Scholars Associations in Friends Schools and used to visit them accordingly and to show how important is the art of elocution. He was given to thumping his chest and shouting out “USE YOUR SOUNDING BOARD!”


Alfred Tallant with Maurice

Because terms and holidays were of much the same length, we three boys did not see much of Rawdon term-time operation.

I havent said anything about the premises, except that they were not really suitable for a school. On the eastern side was a farm owned by a certain Tom Penney whose field (one of them) ran down the length of the school playground and garden. The wall was high-wired to prevent too many cricket balls going over. From the field came the perpetual rasping sound of a corncrake, now I believe a very rare bird because of the use of mechanical farm equipment. The western wall of the playground was that of Richard Swains “Sunnyside” garden. The school garden was a delight with a central path bordered by gooseberry and raspberry bushes, and there was a greenhouse with a fine grapevine along under its roof. The path led right down to the gate into the cricket field. I remember the building (partly adaptation of stables) of the new Cookery School, which was then quite a novel and attractive idea. That was in the School “Yard” on the entrance from the main road.
Tom Penney kept several peacocks, although he seemed an unlikely chap to do so. One of them had the habit of flying over the high wall and alighting on the second-storey (classroom) window-sills. This caused welcome — except for the teacher — excitement. Thinking of birds, in very early days I used to wander frequently in John Mallinsons (the School farmers) domain and got to know a quite friendly gander who was interested by my polished brass blazer buttons and tried to peck them off. I also had a firm friend in the farm dog, named Togo (after an admiral in the Russo-Japanese War). There were always cows, of course, to supply the school milk.

One other thing; rudimentary astronomy. The School possessed a telescope which enabled my father (an F. R. A. S.) to help the scholars to appreciate spectacles such as eclipses and the altering position of Saturns rings.
There was, of course, a devotional assembly on Sunday evenings in the Lecture Hall, which faced west and gathered magnificent sunsets through the tall windows. At the end of the Hall, but separated from it by a sliding screen was — perhaps still is — a small room which served as the Schools laboratory. I presume Richard Swain presided over that department. I believe he was quite an expert in Natural History. A saying of his (he was Irish) that stays in my mind was that in speaking of the woeful condition of the mining community he said, “they only come up to the light of day at night.” Under the lecture hall was the boys workshop. This additional wing is to the right as one goes down the School Yard from the road; I believe that it was a later addition to the premises, but it carried boldly the original founding date of the School. Also under the lecture room were the two or three music rooms. Considering Friends attitude to music at that time, these must have been a later addition.
I never attended any of the classes, but I heard a good many of them. The repetitive technique was carried out. Thats to say the class had to repeat some statements they had just heard in unison. I dont know whether this was truly effective or not.


Rawdon School opened on

2nd April 1832.

The School closed in 1921.


John A.Barringer was Superintendent from

1890 to 1918.

I dont think I have dwelt on the rather peculiar mixture of the children — pupils — whom I remember at the Friends School. They were not all Friends, but included the children of local affluent parents such as mill-owners, the odd doctor, local trades people, a bunch quite different from rather necessitous Friends and families to whom a Friends School was recommended, so the educative standard must have been appreciated. When more schools arrived locally, such as the Secondary School at Yeadon, there was less need for Rawdon Friends School, hence the abandonment in 1921.

Selections from a document by Maurice Barringer.

Walls That Encircle Not Confine

Rawdon Meeting House is only a stones throw from where I live; a mere evening dog-stroll. I can see from my windows the top most branches of the tall old trees that stand in the burial ground there.

I think Perkins my current dog, would know the way without any guidance particularly on fine summer evenings when from past experience we would guess that the occupants there would be camped out on the lawns with rugs and coffee, determined not to miss the promise of a glorious sunset.

I defy anyone not to feel a hint of magic on such evenings in such peaceful surroundings at such an hour; in fact I need to affirm that the beaker of coffee handed to me tasted somehow different – special ? ambrosial ?. But, sadly, I was assured by my friends that it was merely “instant”.

Nevertheless anything could happen, one felt, in that ancient plot, with the Meeting House a dim and tranquil shape in the background and maybe an early star or two appearing to rival the glory that was rapidly advancing in the west. Shades of bygone Quakers treading their sedate way just as they had done generations ago along the path to Meeting ? “Well, why not ?” we said, and slightly intoxicated with the atmosphere we would go further and guess that despite demure exteriors there might be occasional tender glances exchanged from male to maid before they entered the Meeting House to their divided seatings ! Irreverently we wondered what might be the equivalent of a Quaker wink!

But alas, when it comes to Rawdon Meeting, I am a hopeless fantasist. For instance arriving on Sunday morning to Meeting all too often I may be the receptacle of various moods, none pertaining, I fear, to having heart and mind

prepared; yet I like to imagine that the old Meeting House having seen many generations of saints and sinners pass through its door would not condemn me

too harshly, it might even suggest that I get on inside and see what the silence does for me!

Good advice. I take it but once over the threshold and seated, my undisciplined mind is still restless. For instance, why should the headgear of an unsuspecting Friend momentarily rivet my attention? Or why should the labourious progress of a tiny insect spotted on the back of a seat transfix me similarly?. Will it reach its destination or will it loose its balance? “Nancy ! centre down” I tell myself.
Rawdon Meeting House is not a shut-in place. The old walls that encircle it are what I like to call Quakerly walls. They circle but they do not interrupt.

The wide expanse of sky-scape and the distant views of hill and dale are there unhindered for ones gaze. They are hospitable walls too. Brambles run riot over them in parts, squirrels wash their whiskers perched on them (Ive seen them) and a bird alights and pipes a bar or two before taking off again.
Light space and freedom, room to look for ones own bit of vision too


Pal to Nans dog

Radel that lies


Died 1982

They lie in small graves side by side in a corner of the burial ground.

When my dog and I stroll around the old burial ground at Rawdon, Perkins often gravitates to the little grave plots of her predecessors (Radel & Riska) and often she is moved to nonchalantly lift a leg and christen this small area. A rude gesture or a sort of Hail-fellow-well met? If I am honest, knowing Perkins who has the true Jack Russell scorn of the sentimental or the nuance, I would say neither. Still who knows ?


Rawdon Meeting is one of the first Meeting Houses to have been built after the 1689 Toleration Act made it possible for Friends to worship openly. Previously, just meeting for worship carried the risk of imprisonment, loss of property or personal injury. Meetings were often held outside, but when shelter was needed, friends would open up their homes and effectively adopt the risky role of Warden.

When legal restrictions were finally lifted and Friends celebrated their faith in purpose built Meeting houses, they often included additional residential family accommodation in their general design thus maintaining the domestic warmth of early Meetings.

 ‘Wardens’ as such, are a fairly new phenomenon. For many years at Rawdon it was the senior girl in the adult school who acted as caretaker. 0nly since the second world war did the term ‘Warden’ come into common use. Possibly the name was inspired by the experience of the Friends Relief Service whose many evacuation hostels were supervised by ‘wardens’.

So … how has the Warden’s role evolved and changed since those early days ? Records from the archives show that many working conditions remain as they were, with accommodation being provided ‘in kind’ in exchange for the preparation and maintenance of Meeting rooms; remuneration being sometimes offered for specific, additional duties.

Many Quaker wardens have, in the past, been retired, but there is a trend now towards employing younger couples, often with young families. That situation fits Rawdon at the present time. David and I arrived as a couple in 1990 and have since become a family.

Our two children are the only children in the Meeting and have the wonderful benefit of growing up surrounded by the care and support of their extended Quaker family. We are all the richer and happier for it.

When we arrived, the use of the premises was for weekly Meeting for Worship and a very occasional booking for other Quaker meetings. Getting together for tea and coffee afterwards, in our relatively newly adapted schoolroom was the first, happy addition to the informal structure of Sunday mornings.

In the past six years many groups have used and continue to use, our facilities including Yeadon Old Brass Band, North East Early Music Forum, Rawdon Sober Life, Yorkshire Playwrights, Yorkshire Theatre Company, Opera North, a local Buddhist organisation and our own Study Group.

In 1992 we launched our first series of concerts in aid of  [Ref. 31] Amnesty International and this has encouraged many people to share our Meeting house – as wel1 as raise over £4000 for the Amnesty cause. Since our appointment, our role as caretakers has changed dramatically reflecting this increase in activity.

Looking after the garden is another duty, and even the plants have their own history. It is probably a little known fact that the glorious rhododendrons that light up corners of the garden actually travelled from Galway in Ireland in the mid seventies under the caring supervision of the then caretakers Ron and Margaret Addis. [Ref. 32] So far we’ve only managed to add a few snowdrops and daffodil bulbs from the local garden centre – but theres time yet.

The Future

Thank you God, for your love

as seen in the lives of past Rawdon Quakers

and grant that your Grace will be seen

in our own lives and those of future Friends

and praise be given to you.

Go on

Go on filling that space

of sky

With your ancient timbers

ease yourself down into

your roots

comfortably ( like an old

man testing his joints )

ready to begin

on another stretch

of time




Nancy Nott    Sept 1997

Amen. Joanna Guise

Over the past four years I have found that Rawdon Meeting gives me encouragement and a welcome. I believe that this is what it does best for everyone that spends time there. I feel at home there!

Eileen Jackson

References and suggested reading — Endnotes

  1. Crucked houses were usually one bay length 16ft. x 10ft. ( to allow oxen to turn ). Stone buildings were 2 or 3 bays, a common size being a farmhouse for family 18ft.x12ft. Roof principals were only 10 to 12 feet apart and width 15 or 16 feet to take the heavy stone slated roof. Arthur Raistrick, Yorkshire Dales (Dalesman 1991) p. 94
  2. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – B1, Archives, Brotherton Library, Leeds University.
  3. Pitch pine table cost £88.72 in wood in 1990
  4. Leeds City Council awarded the 50% grant.
  5. Oliver Heywood Diaries 1630-1702, vol. 1. Edited by J.Horsfall Turner extracts kindly supplied by Mrs. Irene Lawson
  6. Jean Mortimer, Thoresby Society, Second series vol.1. 1990 ” Poor, deluded Quakers”
  7. George Fox and The Quakers Cecil W. Sharman 1991 Q.H.S. P 225
  8. Indenture of Land
  9. Philemon Slater, Ancient Parish of Guiseley, ( orig. pub. 1880. Reprint Rigg Mt. Guiseley)
  10. James H. Pallister, Rawdon and its History. Facsimile reprint. 1985 MT Rigg, Guiseley. p.77
  11. Translation from Russell Mortimer of the loose document in the pocket of the earliest Knaresborough Monthly Meeting Minutes. A1/1 Archives, Leeds University.
  12. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – B1 Archives, Leeds University. Minute Book no.2 ( No1 missing. )
  13. Margaret Fell, Womens Speaking, 1666 London; 1980 New England Yearly Meeting Of Friends – Out of print. ( see copy from J. Guise)
  14. Rawdon was spelt with an “e” in the Minute books until 5.vi. 1864 .
  15. Oward H. Brinton “Friends for 300 years” 1952 Pendle Hill Publications.
  16. For further reading see such as Walter Kaye’s History of Rawdon School SS10/61 1882 Archives, Leeds University and other documents therein.
  17. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – Archives, Leeds University.
  18. Richard Chilson, ” All will be well” paraphrased from ” Revelations of Divine Love”, Julian of Norwich, first published 14th. Century – Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana USA.
  19. Philemon Slater, Ancient Parish of Guiseley, ( orig. pub. 1880. Reprint Rigg Mt. Guiseley)
  20. Item 61. Brighouse Monthly Meeting Charitable Trusts 1951 p.34
  21. H.R. Hodgson, The society of Friends in Bradford. (Lund Humphries 1926) Pages 83, 84
  22. The Family Tree associated with this article has been developed from an original document produced by the late Maurice Wilson, longtime Rawdon Friend, whose wife was a Grimshaw. It was kindly lent by Mrs. & Mr. Martin, his daughter and son-in-law.
  23. Further research is necessary about this stone. Was it put in place in the 1920’s; Was there an article in the Dalesman magazine ? Grateful thanks to Billy Matchell for maintaining the stone and allowing access to it.
  24. The notes concerning Jeremiah are from Jean and Russell Mortimer.
  25. Mrs. Lawson, then occupier of Ivy House, lent Friends her thesis, ” The Grimshaws and Ivy House and the Quaker Meeting House, Rawdon.” ; for which we were most grateful. We both appreciate that there will be further corrections noted by historians. Grateful thanks to Mr. & Mrs Lawson for permission to photograph Ivy House, the barn and grounds for archival records.
  26. Windsor Archives – Records for 1808 are not fully indexed yet.
  27. The Rise of Quakers T.E. Harvey 1907 p.143
  28. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – B1 Archives, Leeds University.
  29. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – B1 Archives, Leeds University.
  30. Minutes of Rawdon Meeting – Archives, Leeds University. Further reading, John Walvin, “The Quakers, Money and Morals”, John Murray 1997
  31. Amnesty International — The late Herbert Snape had a lifelong concern for Amnesty International, writing letters on behalf of Rawdon Meeting and bringing the plight of prisoners to our attention.
  32. Margaret Addis, sadly, died in 1997.

Webpage History

Webpage posted October 2005.