Local Quaker History

In 1935, some Quakers in the Bromley area decided to start a local Meeting, which was first held in the house of one of those attending, in Hayes, and then in the parish room of Hayes church. In due course, the venue moved to the reportedly delightful garden room of two doctors.

In 1939, the wider Quaker organization formally recognized this as a fully-fledged Preparative Meeting (the term then for a Local Meeting). There were at that time 10 members, and a larger number of non-members who attended regularly. Some of these people had moved out of London in the inter-war years.

The outbreak of war brought several changes. A number of conscientious objectors joined the Meeting. The doctors departed in different directions on medical war service, and the Meeting moved again, this time to central Bromley, which was less difficult to travel to during the war. Conscientious objectors undertook alternative service, variously down a mine, working on farms, teaching or in the Friends Ambulance Unit.   The Meeting also organized a concert to raise funds for the Friends War Relief Service, which provided emergency meals, medical and social support and some hostel accommodation.

From 1942 to 1962 the Meeting was based at the Congregational Church hall in Holwood Road. (This area is now occupied by the Glades Shopping Centre.) Families made up a significant part of the Meeting, and at one time there were three different children's groups. This necessitated hiring additional rooms, including in a nearby building.  The Meeting decided to work towards a Meeting House of its own.    Various means were used to raise funds, such as jumble sales, bring and buy sales and sales of work produced by members, and refreshments were sold at these events. 

In 1957 the purchase was made of the present site in Ravensbourne Road, on which stood a bomb-damaged house.   This plot has a long history of occupation, being the site of a medieval moated manor house known as Simpson's Place, built on the spring line near the bottom of the hill.  It is recorded in the Patent Rolls of 1310, when the occupier was granted permission to crenellate the walls.  In the 18th century it was occupied for about 50 years by one Jeremiah Ringer, who had two sides of the moat filled in. What was left of the building in the 19th century was demolished, and Ravensbourne Road, Ringers Road and Ethelbert Road subsequently developed.

The new Meeting House was designed by Paul Mauger, a Quaker architect, whose practice also designed Meeting Houses in Hitchin, Stansted and Slough, as well as Methodist churches, housing and other buildings. The new Meeting House opened on 6th April, 1962.  Later that year it received a Civic Trust award.

In the1960s, the Meeting ran  a youth club, which catered for young people from outside as well as in the Meeting.

 

In October 2010, we held an open day to illustrate our history up to the present day, as we were gearing up to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

There were a range of exhibits including a 200-year-old Quaker costume.

Ellena Woodward, who was a member of the Bromley Quakers’ outreach committee, said: “A lot of people don’t know about Quakers or that there are Quakers in Bromley, and that’s what we are trying to get across.”

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Meeting House, Bromley Quakers held an open day to highlight the work  that they are doing for peace locally.

The display included historic and modern peace posters and other artifacts.

Members of the Meeting continue to take part in peace events, and also climate protests.

Peace Day events have been held at the meeting house by Bromley Peace Council on United Nations International Day of Peace (21st September each year), such as this one in 2019.

There were stalls for local groups working for peace, posters were made and a presentation that evening was well attended.

 

While there is no music or singing in Meeting for Worship, some Friends have musical interests.  There has been a choir, and concerts have been held.  A series of classical Sunday afternoon recitals was given in 2023, put together with a group of talented musicians.