Religion and belief-churches, chapels and burial grounds

In the post-medieval period, new parish churches are rare, such as the brick church of St Michael’s at Much Hoole in Lancashire, built in 1628.  The few Anglican churches built in this period are summarised in the Buildings of England series, which also refers to the numerous churches where new box pew seating was installed in the eighteenth century, although examples are fairly rare due to losses caused by Victorian re-ordering schemes. Essays on the history and typology of pews and church seating published by the Ecclesiological Society (Cooper and Brown eds, 2011) provide a useful overview but the case studies are drawn from the south of England; research on church seating in the North West is needed to inform decisions about re-ordering Anglican church interiors.  An equally important theme is the building of meeting houses and chapels by dissenting groups, notably the Quakers established in the 1650s. Brigflatts near Sedbergh is the earliest Friends meeting house in the North West, built in 1675, 14 years before the 1689 Act of Toleration.   Cumbria and north Lancashire contain an important group of early meeting houses still in use; these and all those in the North West were recorded and their significance assessed as part of a national survey for the Religious Society of Friends in 2014-2016, part-funded by Historic England, by the Architectural History Practice (AHP building reports are available via ADS and at heritage.quaker.org.uk). Quaker volunteers contributed to the research. Burial grounds next to meeting houses were noted during the survey and the locations of detached Quaker burial grounds identified, although the latter were not assessed for the survey and require further research and assessment. Butler’s and Stell’s (Butler 1978; 1999; Stell 1994) published work on meeting houses and Nonconformist places of worship has been brought up to date by Wakeling’s national assessment of chapels in England (Wakeling 2016).

Biggflatts Quaker Friends meeting house, Sedbergh, Cumbria

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