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Meeting House
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Renovation
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Ayton Meeting House was founded on the present site some time before 1700. Friends have met together in Ayton since 1651. Following the foundation of the School by Thomas Richardson in 1841 it served both the Meeting and Ayton School and has formed part of the lives of many Friends and thousands of Ayton Old Scholars. There is a more detailed Ayton Meeting House history.

Old scholars at school prior to 1968 will remember a different, smaller Meeting House. In 1968 the Meeting House was enlarged to accommodate all the pupils as numbers rose. As well as the daily morning meeting and long meeting, the Meeting House served many other purposes. Many an old Scholar gave their first public performance - a music solo or as member of a choir; or in the orchestra - in the Meeting House. Now that sadly the School has had to close the Meeting House needs at change again to meet the new demands placed upon it both by the Meeting, old scholars, and the community it serves.

Old Scholars' Room. Stored above the passage and at present inaccessible except to the agile are many items selected by Old Scholars to be retained as mementoes of the School. They include photographs, albums, an ice axe, and a walking stick amongst other items. These we hope to store and display in the upstairs room shown in the plans. The War Memorial plaque from the School dining room will also be placed here while the memorial benches will remain in the meeting room.Ayton Meeting House from the Coach Road

The Appeal. Ayton Friends launched a wide-ranging appeal in the summer of 1999. The Meeting House is the property of Guisborough Monthly Meeting, which is a charity, and so Gift Aid or Covenant allowed the Meeting to recover tax paid by the donor. The new Meeting House would not have room for the many benches, which have been indelibly imprinted in many an old scholar’s memory, and other parts of the anatomy as well no doubt, and the surplus was offered to Old Scholars as part of the Appeal. 

AOSA Chairman Sue Fox (Turner) and President Dorothy Dawson (Easton) jointly sent a letter to all AOSA members asking for their support and the response all round has been magnificent. Jane Campbell (Bye) who has been coordinating the Appeal has written to tell us:

“We have achieved our target of £210,000 having received a cheque for £63,000 from the School Residual Fund – at last! We are applying for planning permission and seeking tenders and hope to start work in May, the conversion is scheduled to last three months.”

“Old Scholars contributed £22,000 plus we sold 36 benches to old scholars which brings the total to over £30,000. I am so grateful for all your support. We look forward to sharing our new Meeting House with everyone.”

 

With thanks to Robert Campbell, we can include a portion of "Bulmer's 1890 History, Topography & Directory of North Yorkshire," which mentions Friends' School, and Great Ayton Meeting House. 

 

If you would like to see an interesting selection of photographs of Swarthmoor Hall, home of George Fox near Ulverston, Cumbria, follow this link. On the same page you will find a photo of George Fox's pulpit on Firbank Fell.  

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