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Fritchley: Friends Meeting House

Photo from Walter Lowndes� book: Quakers of Fritchley

photo quaker 1

The Friends Meeting House in Fritchley about 1908
Back, L to R � Thomas Davidson, Mary Davidson, Susanna Blake, Jesse Derbyshire, Elizabeth Darbyshire Snr.
Front � Catherine Smith, Edward Watkins and Henry Smith

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was founded by George Fox during the upheaval of the English Civil War in the 1640s. Mocked as trembling with religious zeal, Fox and his followers adopted the term �Quakers� as their own.

The London Yearly Meeting of the Quakers was the final constitutional authority of the church � a little like the Church of England Synod. At the Yearly Meeting of 1860 there was a change to the strict discipline which banned non-Friends marrying and the use of plain dress and speech was declared optional. This caused a split. The movement for separation was led by John Grant Sargeant who, in 1864, moved to Fritchley to the Bobbin Mill where he and a small group separated from the London Yearly Meeting. They had their first session of �Fritchley General Meeting� in 1870, adopting London�s strict discipline of 1802 which banned non-Friends from marrying and insisted on plain dress and speech. Although always small, the group slowly increased in numbers up to about the year 1900. A number of Friends moved to Fritchley or surrounding towns in order to be part of the Meeting.

John Grant Sargent and his wife, Catherine Doubell, lived in Fritchley from 1864 until his death in 1883. In 1905 two of his daughters, Lydia and Catherine, travelled to America with a group of Fritchley Friends.

photo quaker 2

Lydia Sargent and Catherine Smith were sisters


Fritchley Meeting House was opened on the 3rd October 1897. The first marriage which took place there, in 1905, was the daughter of Thomas Davidson, who owned Fritchley�s post office and general store.

Photo from Walter Lowndes� book: Quakers of Fritchley

photo quaker 3

Post office on Fritchley Green about 1890