History of Quakers in Sheffield
Within 20 years of George Fox bringing his radical message, that God’s inspiration could be experienced as a direct personal relationship, Quaker meetings sprang up at Tickhill, Balby and Woodhouse, followed by Upperthorpe and Sheffield in 1669. Land was purchased for a burial ground off Broad Lane in 1676 (now a vacant lot just to the left of McCague’s Garage). At that time Quakers met for worship at sites like this or in their own homes.
Land and buildings for a meeting house and stable were eventually purchased in 1707. This was situated on the west of Scargill Croft, off Hartshead (now the top end of Meeting House Lane). An orchard was then bought as a burying ground on the east side of Meeting House Lane and, over the next hundred years, various meeting house buildings were constructed. At one point the seating capacity of the Meeting House was up to 800 people. A Friends’ Adult School building, seating 500, was added in 1871. However, during the bombing raids of December 1940 the main buildings were gutted by fire.
Friends met in temporary accommodation until, in 1947, Sheffield Council erected a temporary wooden building on the site of the old Adult School. Eventually, the whole site was purchased for redevelopment with land exchange and a grant from the War Damage Compensation Scheme. A replacement meeting house was built on High Court, on the south side of Hartshead in 1964. This was, in turn, purchased for redevelopment, and Friends moved into their present Sheffield Quaker Meeting House on St. James Street in 1991. Friends House on Hartshead was never actually redeveloped.