The history of the Friends meeting house in Skinnergate began by the purchase of the original small property in 1678, consisting of a "Burgage, Tenement and Croft", for £35. Previous to this, meetings were held in private houses in Darlington, Cockerton and Blackwell. The building was altered for a meeting house, as recorded in the early monthly meeting minutes and deeds.
Additions to the land and buildings had been made, so that there were two meeting houses - the mens to the left, and the womens to the right beyond the first building. The ground to the south is shown on an old plan as being the burying ground at the time. Entry from the street was through a wrought iron gate, and the path to the side door, passing the original building on the left, then used mid-week as the "small meeting house", with stable for the horses of visiting Friends beyond it.
|In an early etching the gables of the two meeting houses are to be seen over the front. The cottages on the street had been purchased and were used as almshouses.|
1796 The womens meeting house was enlarged to the same length as the mens.
The present front was built, probably to the design of Joshua Sparks. Committee rooms on the ground floor, classrooms and a library space above, replaced the cottages and former building.
A little later, in 1845-47, the two meeting houses were extended to the west and made into one with a single span roof, while moveable shutters could be lowered fort the separate business meetings of men and women Friends. To enlarge the graveyard behind the meeting house additional land was bought from the duke of Cleveland; more was added at a later date.
As the Sunday School movement led to increased numbers, the school block was built. One or two rooms used previously for this purpose formed the lower floor.
in these years the adult school met each Sunday morning in large numbers in the upper room, and in a classroom in the main building
1896 Further alterations for heating and cloakrooms were made in 1896
Not until 1960 when, the meeting having become smaller - it was decided to let much of the property for business premises - was a major re-arrangement made. From the mens side a kitchen was taken off, leaving a sufficiently large meeting room for present needs. the womens side was retained for large gatherings, and the library and institute room for committees etc, with the wardens flat o the upper floor.
The school block, being unsafe, was closed in 1964. the lower room had been the meeting place of the natural history and field club, in which Friends took a prominent interest for 40 years. The development of this site remains to be decided.
1966 School building demolished
Central heating, suspended ceilings, new toilets and womens meeting room refurbished. Now re-named "Elm tree room" to perpetuate the mission on rise Carr which was demolished prior it o redevelopment of that area. Meeting room redecorated, the traditional Quaker colours of blue and grey being discontinued. carpets laid in hall and institute.
Darlington Skinnergate meeting house, present day
|Darlington: 10.30am. Children's class.
Additional Meeting for Worship Thurs 10.00 -10.20am. 6 Skinnergate, Darlington DL3 2NB
01325 466810 FMH
Grid Ref NZ 287 144. In central Darlington area. Railway Stn 1 mile. Skinnergate (a one way street) entered from Duke st. FMH is on the right. Car Parking (by arrangement).
Clerk: Jenny Warden, Stanhope Road, Darlington DL3 7SF Tel: FMH 01325-466-810
(Details taken from official meeting hse pamphlet)
Downloaded from web site for Darlington Society of Friends (Quakers) 2000/12/31.