Churches Together in Otley

Back to Homepage

History of The Churches in Otley             contents page

Note: the detail below is from the 2002 edition
 of Otley Past Present and Future

Society of Friends - Quakers


There have been Quakers living in Otley and Wharfedale for the last 350 years. Properly known as members of the Religious Society of Friends, many derived from a network of dales folk called Seekers, who were inspired to follow the radical thoughts of George Fox in the early 1650s.

These included a philosophy of non-violence, and that we should work to do away with all wars while pursuing equality, truth and simplicity in our daily lives. These beliefs caused a lot of hardship for Quakers then and still do today!

Many Friends were imprisoned either for refusing to pay church tithes, to swear allegiance to the Crown or to swear on the bible in court.

In 1665 there were only four Quaker "public" Meeting houses in Yorkshire (Thirsk, Settle, Scarborough and Askwith, near Otley), so Quakers usually held their silent m meetings for worship in private houses.

Following the Toleration Act of 1689, houses could be licensed for Worship and Otley Quakers went to one of these in either Otley or Askwith.

The first meeting house in Otley was built at Cross Green in 1776 and Askwith Quakers went to Otley when Askwith Meeting closed in 1778.

The site at Cross Green was let to the Plymouth Brethren in the mid-nineteenth century, and the arrangement continues as there is a Quaker burial ground on the site.

There have been Quaker Meetings in Otley for the past 20 years, at first in homes then later in the Otley Cycle Club premises in Wellbeck. Currently, thanks to the Methodists, we meet in the church parlour in Boroughgate.