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Quakers in Australia

Friends Meeting Houses in Hobart

Friends Meeting Houses


The First Friends' Meeting House, Hobart
at 143 Murray St. It was bought by James Backhouse
in 1837 for £350
and was in use till September 1880.

Photo by: J.B. Osborne

Hobart Hobart
     

We gratefully acknowledge the University of Tasmania Special and Rare Collections for providing the images of the Meeting Houses on this page and p.6 and for allowing us to reproduce them.

Thomas Crouch and his wife Sarah were Wesleyans and provided George Washington Walker and James Backhouse with their first lodgings. For the greater part of two or three years Backhouse and Walker lodged with the Crouches and their home became a Friends' centre in Hobart providing accommodation for Meeting for worship and for Quakers coming to Hobart for Monthly and Yearly Meetings. Sarah Crouch became a Quaker and Backhouse sometimes called her 'a mother of Israel'.
On 20 September 1833 a small group of Friends met together in the manner of Meeting for Worship in a private house in Bathurst Street, Hobart. The house belonged to Thomas and Sarah Crouch. Also present were Thomas Squire of St Albans Monthly Meeting in Hertford; Ann Pollard of Devonshire House Monthly Meeting, London; James Backhouse of York Monthly Meeting and George Washington Walker of Newcastle Monthly Meeting. It was felt the time was expedient for a Meeting to be formerly established in Van Diemen's Land. In this first formally constituted Meeting were recorded the names of twelve others who had been associated in some way with Friends' and might be likely to become part of the future Meeting.
From 1833 for several years Meetings for Worship in Hobart were held in private houses but as numbers increased the need was felt for a Hobart Meeting House. In 1836 an allotment at 143 Murray Street was purchased from William Nicoll and Bernard Carron at a cost of 350 pounds. The Meeting for Sufferings in London supplied a temporary loan to the Hobart Quakers, this loan was later repaid by subscriptions from English Friends.
The allotment purchased had on it 'a weatherboard house' in which Friends had already been in the habit of sometimes meeting (see cover photo). The cost of alterations (fifty pounds) was also met from England. Two rooms were thrown into one to make a meeting room 36 feet by 12 feet. The rest of the cottage served as cloak and meeting rooms, with living quarters at the rear. In the Boa Vista Room we have the door latch from this first Meeting House, designed so the door could be opened quietly for members to come in quietly for Meeting for Worship.
The deeds of the first Hobart Meeting House were transferred to Hobart Meeting in 1859. In 1936 half an acre of land in Providence Valley (now Friends Park in Mellifont Street) was made over to the Society by William Shoobridge, for a Quaker burial ground.
In September 1880 Hobart Friends entered a new phase with the completion of the substantial stone Meeting House behind the reconverted cottage used till then. Rippon Shield, who had been working on the St Mary's Cathedral building nearby, was engaged to build this new Meeting House. Reportedly he was able to use stone surplus to St Mary's requirements. This Meeting House was surrounded by a garden and many comments were recorded about this garden. Rooms under the Meeting House were used for outreach works, e.g. clothes storage, sorting and processing for the many clothing bundles sent to refugees of World War II.
Another small wooden Meeting House stood for many years in Claremont, and was used especially by Quakers who lived near their work at Cadburys including the Walpole Family.
In 1960 a property fronting onto Boa Vista Road and Argyle Street and adjacent to the Friends Junior School was purchased and the current Meeting House erected.

Kathy Rundle

from the April 2014 Tasmanian Quaker newsletter







recently Ruth Raward had the opportunity to visit Swathmore Hall in Cumbria, she says:
I have just come back from England and whilst we were there Gill and I visited Swarthmore Hall, near Ulverstone, Cumbria.  I am attaching a couple of photos incase you think this would interest Friends.  It was built in 1586 and has a fine collection of 17th century furniture and is associated with the early Quaker movement.  It was the home of Judge Thomas Fell and his wife Elizabeth with regular visits from George Fox for meetings.
The hall is a centre for programmes with a guest house.



Swathmore Hall Cumbria

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