History of Quakers in Canterbury
Quaker missionary William Caton visited Canterbury in 1655, and a Quaker Meeting House in central Canterbury was opened in 1687. The Friends Meeting House stood on a site in Canterbury Lane for over 250 years. Built of brick and faced with cement, the building provided seating for a hundred Friends and Attenders. However, all that remains today of this building are a memorial plaque on a wall, and some materials in the current Friends Meeting House. The earlier building was destroyed on 1 June 1942 during a Second World War bombing raid on Canterbury.
The current meeting house was built in 1956. In the vestibule there are some prints depicting some of the experiences of early Quakers in Canterbury, including periods of imprisonment. In the Meeting House library there is a photograph showing the bomb-destroyed Canterbury Lane meeting house.
Historically, Quaker burials took place in a walled plot at the corner of St. Dunstan’s and Forty Acre Road, adjacent to the Jewish cemetery. Registers of births, marriages, deaths and burials for the Canterbury Lane Meeting House survive from the mid-17th century to the 1770s.