Keswick Quakers History

There were some very early Quakers in Keswick going back to the mid-seventeenth century and the time of George Fox. According to his journal George Fox passed through Keswick in 1663.


Anthony Tickell, Hugh Tickell, John Tickell and Thomas Dockray are the names of some of Keswick's earliest Quakers. Hugh Tickell was actually imprisoned for confronting the vicar of Crosthwaite, "In 1665 it pleased ye Lord to bestow worldly riches on him" and he provided Keswick Quakers with their first Meeting House at his own expense.


This Meeting House was replaced with a new Meeting House in 1715. The Quaker community in the early part of the eighteenth century, however, was very small - in 1740 there were only six Quaker families in Crosthwaite parish.

In 1807 we can be sure there was no active meeting for in that year Robert Southey wrote to a friend: " My views of religion approach very nearly to Quakerism. Were there a meeting in Keswick, I should certainly take a seat in it ".

In 1820 the redundant meeting house became a girls school and was used as such until 1833. It then seems to have stood empty for many years until it was converted into three cottages and then later on in to a single dwelling which today is known as Quaker Cottage. The building is to be found on Crosthwaite Road near to the Catholic Church.


A Quaker report of 1896 mentions an 'allowed meeting' existing in Keswick. This must have met in the homes of local Quakers, for a meeting room was not obtained until 1921 when a local Quaker called Henry Pollard bought for local Friends a meeting room which had originally been built in 1906 as a 'speculation' above some shops and storerooms in Church Street and for many years had been used by the Boy Scouts.

During the 1930's there were only some half dozen Keswick Friends and meetings were only held in the summer months. The arrival of two further friends, however, decided them to meet all year round and become an 'allowed meeting'.


Numbers burgeoned during the war years as many evacuees came to live in Keswick and the meeting was granted preparatory status. After the war numbers fell again and for a period Keswick became an 'allowed meeting' again. But from that nadir numbers would seem to have grown fairly steadily ever since.


In 1987 Doris Liversidge, a Quaker who had moved to Keswick in 1965, left a very large bequest to Keswick Friends with which the present Meeting House was built. It was opened in 1994.