Alston Meeting House History

From 1668 to 1902 Alston was in the care of Allendale Monthly Meeting in Northumberland Quarterly Meeting. Since 1981 it has been in the care of Carlisle and Holm Monthly Meeting, now part of Cumberland Area Meeting.


The meeting house is set in one corner of its burial ground and stands end-on to Front Street.


Friends contributed towards the cost of building the first meeting house, which was opened in 1732. It was a small single-story building of two rooms separated by a timber screen with sliding shutters and with stone mullioned windows, traces of which can still be seen in the external masonry. The building was subsequently considered to be insufficient and in 1762 work was started to enlarge it by raising the walls and making a gallery. This was finished in 1764. The increased size made the original small mullioned windows inadequate and they were replaced with larger sash windows, except for the old window which lit the loft.


Around 1850 a number of Wesleyan Methodists (then torn with schism) wished to have a harmonious religion without strife and joined the Quakers.


In 1859 the loft was abandoned and its floor was removed so that a new and higher ceiling could be made for the women's meeting room. At about the same time the meeting house was panelled all round and a new minister's stand was built. When a porch was added it was given the date 1732 on the lintel and this was possibly the original lintel to the entrance door re-used in the new position.


The meeting was discontinued in 1902 and the building has served a variety of purposes in the life of Alston. The meeting was re-opened in 1981 and in 1996 the building was comprehensively refurbished with new toilets and kitchen in the former women's room.