Local Quaker History
The Meeting House is located within the historic centre of Chichester, within the Roman walls and within a conservation area.
The adjacent Friars’ Gate house is a grade II-listed building.
The Meeting House overlooks Priory Park, the site of the former Norman castle and the historic Guildhall (a remnant of a Franciscan friary). The Park is now a public park with a cricket pitch.
The current meeting house is the third meeting house in Chichester and the second on the present site. George Fox visited Chichester in 1655 and from the late 1650s to the mid-1680s meetings were held in private houses. In 1672 several Quakers leased a piece of land in the street called The Hornet for use as a burial ground. By 1683, a building was rented nearby and used as a meeting house. The freehold was purchased in 1687. In 1700, the building was sold and a new meeting house was built on the present site in Priory Road.
The meeting house closed in 1908 due to lack of members. It was briefly reopened in 1928, and in 1930 repairs were undertaken and gas lighting installed. In 1940 the meeting was re-established.
By the 1960s, the meeting was growing rapidly and the old building was no longer sufficient. Planning permission for initial plans of 1962 for improvements was refused. After several new schemes and further refusals, the proposal for a new building was given permission in May 1966.
Construction began in February 1967 and the new meeting house opened in November that year and the overall cost was £15,000. It seems unlikely that any eighteenth century fabric was kept.
There is a small detached burial ground in The Hornet which is now landscaped as a garden. The freehold belongs to the Quakers and it is let to the District Council.
To find out more about the History of Quakers in Chichester please click here