Purley Quaker Meeting House

The Meeting House at Purley in 1921
The oldest extant photograph  yet seen from a postcard dated the same.
This picture shows a view of the building which was built in 1909 at a cost of £1600.  The initial contract was advertised in The Friend magazine as up for estimate  for 'any friend able'.The  appointed architects were  the very famous Pepler and Allen, George Pepler's successful team. The builders were called Marsh.

 The wobbly roof  in the postcard is, (we think) ,due to the plate being moved in the camera during exposure, and is no reflection of the building's roof state at that time, which would indeed have been prematurely decrepit  if the building was only 12 years old!
It is interesting to note the windows appear to be leaded lights,some of which still exist within the Meeting House's
sliding internal doors.
You can see clearly the flint walls which are a feature of this area.In recent years a lorry brought down some our frontal flint walls, which were mended as well as we could manage.
There is a figure standing on the path to the Meeting House who appears to have the  distinguishing Quaker beard of the period, which would have had no moustache. He is likely to be an Elder of the Meeting or a Clerk.
The first Clerk was Arthur Hansome, appointed in 1909, but as this is somewhat later  it is unlikely to be the same, as clerks are appointed on a  triennial basis.
It is believed that the Meeting House was originally to be situated in the town centre, but that it was difficult to obtain permission from the Ecumenical Commission who may have felt Friends were not in line with the established churches. 
The plot of land in Downscourt Road where the Meeting Houses stands,  was originally purchased for £400.
Any anomaly is that the rear access road is called Friends Road, but the houses that are built along their were mainly built in 1908 which is a year earlier than the Friends' Meeting House.

Meeting House Style
The Meeting House is a brilliant example of an Arts and Crafts period building with its sweeping  high mansard roof and high windows which internally light the timbered construction of the main hall which is based upon an English Guild Hall, a curious conceit, considering such a place is of the commercial secular world, whereas the  hall was built for Meeting for Worship and its attendant activities. The fact that the architect, George Pepler was educated at Bootham, York ( famous Quaker school) may have some bearing on the design as he would have seen and admired the Guild Hall at York.

Commemorative Boards
One of the unique features of the Purley Meeting House is that it has commemorative boards in the porch for Friends who have lived and died as members of the Meeting here.

Please contact the Meeting House if you have any information or photographs pertaining to its history. 020 8668 2809

Special thanks to Mr Ken Harman of Sanderstead for supplying V. Aldous with  the 1921 picture.

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