Our meeting house

Our meeting house

Bury Quakers bought a property in ‘Long Brackland’ (now St. John’s Street) in 1682, for £50, only 30 years after George Fox had founded the Quaker movement.

The present timber-framed, Grade II listed building, with its extensive garden and burial ground, was built by Bury Quakers on a site bought by them in 1750.   It is the oldest Quaker Meeting House in Suffolk that is still in use.

The front wall is faced with 19th century white bricks and has a full Venetian window.  Internally the original raised benches for Ministers and Elders remain, as does the gallery, which has recently been restored.

The Margaret Kemp Room is named after a Friend who kept the Meeting going in the post-war years of the 1940s, sometimes being the only Quaker attending on a Sunday morning.  Our numbers have grown since then, and we aim now to be an active presence in the community.

In 2007 work commenced on the provision of a new room for community meetings (the Garden Room), new toilets, and a state-of-the-art kitchen, all leading off an entrance hall designed to reflect the importance of light in Quaker belief and thinking.  At the same time, the older rooms had under-floor heating installed – to match the new extension – and were redecorated.  The gallery was re-opened, and a library installed where the old kitchen once was.  A civic opening ceremony of the restored Meeting House took place in October 2008.

The cost of the extension and restoration amounted to £530,000 and this was raised in a little over three years, without recourse to Lottery funding, because of our concern about the effects of gambling.

A more detailed history of the Bury Meeting can be found in Betty Curtayne’s recently revised booklet Quakers in Bury St Edmunds (£3.00), available from the Meeting House.

Recently the Meeting House was the subject of a survey by The Quaker Meeting Houses Heritage Project. You can see the report on our Meeting House here.

SHCTThe Meeting House before the 2008 development

Click here for some photos of our garden