Quaker History


Lombard Street – Quaker Connections

At the corner of Lombard Street with Gracechurch Street was the largest Quaker Meeting House in London. It existed from the early 1700s to the end of the 19th Century. Quakers are sometimes referred to as ‘Members of the Society of Friends’ or simply as ‘Friends’. On the 1860 map look for ‘Friends Meeting Ho’. On the 1750 map look for ‘Qu M’.



Quaker families were owners of many of the regional banks which merged eventually to form Lloyds Bank and Barclays Bank.  Quakers ran over seventy banks at the height of financial expansion in industrial Britain, based on Quaker success in manufacturing, food commodity trading and transport innovation.

Lloyd’s Bank had its main Headquarters in Lombard Street, although it had long standing Quaker connections originally in Birmingham.

Lombard Street had many Quaker businesses until the mid 19th century. For instance John Freame and Thomas Gould established themselves as goldsmith bankers in 1690. They held the central funds of the Quakers and helped to finance trustworthy Quaker traders in America, including the Pennsylvania Land Company, and in the Caribbean. Barclays traces its ancestry back to these two goldsmith bankers, as can be seen on their official website

Another Quaker business which started in this area of Candlewick was the firm which became Allen & Hanburys, founded by Quaker Silvanus  Bevan in Old Plough Court, Lombard Street in 1715. Allen & Hanburys became part of Glaxo in 1958, now Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK : London). GSK traces its origin to Bevan’s Pharmacy, as can be seen from their official website.

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Quaker Burying Ground – out of the City

When Quakers were important bankers, financiers and traders in the City of London, notably in Lombard Street in Candlewick Ward, their democratic and radical form of Christianity meant that it was not possible to be buried in the City of London.  This meant creating a Quaker ‘burying ground’ out of the City. It was, and is, just north of Moorgate, close in fact to the other ‘Dissenter’ Burial Ground at Bunhill Fields. The Quaker Garden is now next to a remaining small Quaker Meeting House and is where the founder of Quakerism George Fox was buried in 1691 or 11 Mo of 1690 according to the Julian Calendar which started on 25 March in the newer and now accepted universal Gregorian Calendar. Records suggest that 12,000 Quakers were buried there.


City of London Corporation staff tend to the more well-known Bunhill Fields Burial Ground where William Blake and Daniel Defoe were laid to rest. It seems that the Corporation do a very competent job in maintaining and improving this historic site.


The Quaker Garden is maintained partly by living Quaker volunteers in collaboration with the LB Islington, as a public garden for the local communities.


The Quaker Garden show here in March 2017 at a time when volunteer Quakers were clearing the garden of fallen branches, spring planting and improving the definition of the flower bed edging designs.  Wiki 








There is an interesting array of Historic Plaques in Candlewick Ward.  One day it would be good to see one about the Quaker Quarter and Community, including Gracechurch Street Quaker Meeting.





Old Bailey Plaque – Jury Rights

In 1670 two prominent Quakers were arrested in Grace Church Street.  They were accused that they ‘did assemble and congregate themselves together, to the disturbance of the peace of the said lord the king.’

The Case led to the important democratic right for the Jury to be independent of the judiciary and ultimately the State. After many attempts to force the Jury to give a guilty verdict, including overnight imprisonments and fines, there was an Appeal to the Court of of Common Pleas. The Chief Justice concluded :
“The jury must be independently and indisputably responsible for its verdict free from any threats from the court.”

There is a Plaque at the Old Bailey which commemorates this important case R v Penn and Mead.


William Penn went on to found the Quaker State in the colonies of North America, using Quaker, Lombard Street trustworthy advice to help fund the new, disruptive, investment. This large area of America is now called Pennsylvania.

It would be good to commemorate this important Case at the site where the free-speech event took place which was under legal scrutiny, close to the centre of the former Quaker community in Candlewick. There is no right kind of democracy and free speech, even when it appears that way.

Agreeing to commission and site a plaque is no doubt more difficult than it sounds.

1827 – The World’s First School Bus Service

From Gracechurch Quaker Meeting to Stoke Newington

For many years until 1862, Gracechurch Street Quaker Meting was the centre of a large number of Quaker businesses and homes.  It is strange now to think of the City of London as a place where people worked and families lived; in Candlewick Ward there are now only about 10 private dwellings left.

There was a growing Quaker community in Stoke Newington and Quaker schools there. For a short-time the girls of the Quaker Community in Candlewick would take a horse-drawn ‘Omnibus’ to get to school, as it was too far to walk.  The Omnibus could carry up to 25 people. It was designed and built by an innovative carriage-maker, George Shillibeer.  The service appears to have started in 1827 and ended a year later in 1828 when there were more Quaker families leaving the City to live in what was then rural Stoke Newington, where a Quaker Meeting House was also built.  These days (2017) there is another small community of Quakers, who have their religious Meetings on Sundays in one of the rooms of the restored Clissold House.  This 18th century mansion is now part of the Estate of Hackney Council and had a £8.9m heritage lottery grant to restore it. Clissold House was built as Paradise House by and for Jonathan Hoare one of the Quaker banker families.  The House looks like this on a cold, sunny, winter Sunday morning.


The best bus route now to ‘Paradise House’  from the corner of Gracechurch Street and Lombard Street, the site of the Quaker Meeting House,  is to take the No 40 to Aldgate Bus Station and then the No 67.  Of course the buses are now horseless carriages, with approximately 400 horsepower.

An early example, as a replica, of Shillibeer’s Omnibus is now on show at the London Transport Museum.  He adapted the vehicle built for the Quaker school bus and started a regular bus route for the public from Paddington to the City via Regent’s Park. This is often claimed to be the first public bus service in the world, starting in 1829.

Transport in Candlewick

New Bank Station

In 2020 there will be a new Underground station in Cannon Street, which will look like this.


This TfL programme is part of two main ways to improve Bank Station, firstly with new access to the City & Waterloo line, in the long run being via the new Bloomberg Building near Walbrook Square and secondly a new underground tunnel.  The plans for the new tunnel are shown on this TfL Map.


Access to the works is via Arthur Street for this £563m upgrade.  Arthur Street has its place in the earlier history of transport.  It was the route underground for the world’s first electric underground railway to avoid tunnelling under buildings along the route of the Stockwell to City line, now part of the Northern Line.  The terminus for the City & South London Line was called King William Street.  Its location can be seen here.


King William Street station was opened in December 1890 and closed in 1900 when the line was extended as far as Moorgate Street via Bank.  At this time a new tunnel was made under the Thames and the original next station south at Borough was replaced by London Bridge. A historic plaque opposite Monument Station shows the site of the station.  The pedestrian tunnel from Bank to Monument Station was completed in 1933.  Monument station had opened in 1884.

The company which created the City & South London line to Stockwell had originally planned to pull the trains by rope, similar to the short lived 1870 tunnel service, The Tower Subway under the Thames between The Tower and Tooley Street, but used electric trains instead. To differentiate their service from the other steam-train services, which were dirty and smelly, the City & South London line used the term ‘subway’ to describe their service.  American English used this expression for the first US underground railways but in British English it did not continue to be used, hence the confusion with our North American cousins.

King William Street Station became a great success in its short life and was replaced after 10 years of use.  All stations on the line to Stockwell were too small to cope with the passenger numbers.  There is nothing new under the sun.  It looked like this.


Note the horses which were the main original means of transport in London, apart from walking which is still used.





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