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East Nottingham Friends Meetinghouse
The East Nottingham Friends Meetinghouse (also known as the Brick Meetinghouse) is a well-crafted, early extant meeting house built as part of William Penn’s settlement, Nottingham Lots. Penn created 37 parcels averaging 500 acres each, upon which 15 Quaker families eventually settled. This meetinghouse served as the religious, civic, and social center of their community, which still includes a number of fine Quaker houses and farmsteads.
The meetinghouse was built in two parts: the 1724 Flemish-bond brick section and the native stone section, likely built following a fire in 1744. The interior dates to an 1810 reconstruction following a second fire, and a frame women’s cloakroom and privy was added in the mid-nineteenth century. The addition and the later reconfiguration of the interior reflect changes in late-eighteenth-century Quaker practices from the English model to newly developed American practices and meetinghouse forms. Evidence can be seen in the facades of the meetinghouse, where original bays were filled in and new bays created to accommodate the interior reconfiguration. The meetinghouse was built of indigenous materials in the Quaker plain style, which reflected the group’s religious tenets. While lacking in ornamentation, the structure demonstrates fine craftsmanship and elements typical of Pennsylvania Quaker architecture, such as the gabled doorway hood. Likewise, the brick section includes arched openings and a water table; the stone section, although of rubble stone, demonstrates exceptional masonry skill and includes stones in a wide range of shapes and sizes, quoining, and rustic stone lintels with keystones.
The 18,000-acre Nottingham Lots community was established by William Penn in 1701 to encourage the settlement of Friends to this region. Penn’s grant included the gifting of the current meetinghouse site and burying ground, encompassing 40 acres in total. The East Nottingham Meetinghouse remained part of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting until 1819, when it was transferred to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting. It was for a time the largest meetinghouse south of Philadelphia and thus the site of a half-yearly gathering of Friends of this region.
Still used for worship, the Brick Meetinghouse is open to the public for scheduled services.
Blumgart, Pamela James, ed. At the Head of the Bay: A Cultural and Architectural History of Cecil County, Maryland. Elkton and Crownsville, MD: Cecil Historical Trust and Maryland Historical Trust, 1996.
Day, Robert Warwick. “The Nottingham Lots and the Early Quaker Families.” Paper presented at East Nottingham Monthly Meeting, Calvert, MD, September 29, 2001.
Lavoie, Catherine C., and Christopher Densmore. Silent Witness: Quaker Meetinghouses in the Delaware Valley, 1695 to the Present. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends, 2002.
Lutz, George W., III, “East Nottingham Friends Meeting House (Brick Meeting House),” Rising Sun, Cecil County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1975. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
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