A Short History of the Leicester Quaker Meeting
Quakers in Leicester have a history dating back to the 17th century
The First Meeting House (as shown on an 1828 street plan)
In 1680 Friends acquired a site in Soar Lane, in north Leicester, as it then was, for use as a burial ground, and built a meeting house on part of the site. The site was gradually enlarged by acquisition of adjacent properties to cope with the number of burials. In 1768 the original meeting house was demolished and replaced.
The last burial to take place at the burial ground was that of 92 years old Hannah Basford, on May 23rd, 1855.
In 1895 the whole site was sold for development to the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company, soon to be the Great Central Railway Company.
The Second Meeting House
The old meeting house in Soar Lane had become increasingly inadequate by the mid-19th century and a new one was planned. Land was purchased in Prebend Street, a few hundred yards south of the railway station and in 1876 the new meeting house was built to the design of Edward Burgess (1850-1929) soon to be a prominent Leicester architect, and a member of the Burgess Quaker family. The cost of the meeting house being raised by subscription of the members of the Meeting.
The property was sold to The Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Institute for the Blind in 1954 and the proceeds used towards the cost of the new meeting house in Queens Road.
Note: The offer of the LLRIB included “….use rent free of the Meeting House on First Days … till the new Meeting House is ready” 17/7/1954, Minute 14
This building survives and is now a Sikh Gurdwara.
The Victorian pine benches used in the present meeting room came from Prebend Street
The Present Meeting House
Just as the original 1680 meeting house had become unsuited for contemporary requirements, so too did the Prebend Street premises, and a new meeting house was opened in 1955, in Queens Road.
In 1968 the meeting house was extended to include a library and an activity room. The building now comprises a long two-story frontage under a continuous pitched roof with the single-story meeting room projecting at the rear.
One of the advantages of the Queens Road site is that it offers a pleasant environment in which so many non-Quaker organisations can meet.