MP joins the Blue Idol reopening
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert joined the celebration of the Blue Idol Quaker house reopening on Saturday (27 June).
The Blue Idol Meeting House, in Coolham near Billingshurst, is a significantly historic building in West Sussex used by the Quakers as a place of worship.
Originally a farm house, it was converted to a Friends Meeting House in 1691 by William Penn for the sum of £53. Many local Quakers sailed to America with Penn who went on to be the founder of the city of Philadelphia.
The 17th century Grade 2 building was in bad condition with repairs needed to its Horsham stone roof and timber framing. The restoration work took almost three years to complete with funding given from a number of donations and trusts including from English Heritage.
On Saturday the official opening was performed with special guests, actors Sheila Hancock and Geoffrey Durham and West Sussex MPs Nick Herbert and Jeremy Quin, followed by an open afternoon for Friends from across the West Weald area.
With restoration now complete, the Blue Idol will once again be used for regular meetings including weekly Sunday worship.
Kim Hope, from the Meeting House Friends, said: “We are incredibly grateful to all the people who have contributed money to this work – English Heritage, many Quaker Meeting Houses, a number of Trusts and many, many individual Friends from both the UK and America. Without their generous support we would not now be celebrating the re-opening of our cherished Meeting House. We are also deeply grateful to all the skilled craftsmen who have worked on the building.”
Jeremy Quin, MP for Horsham, said: “The Meeting House is a very special place. The newer wood brilliantly crafted alongside the original structure is a fitting testament to a lot of hard work successfully completed. It was wonderful to be able to join the Friends in celebrating the reopening."
Nick Herbert said: “It was a huge pleasure to join the Quakers at the re-opening of this special and peaceful place, and to realise the remarkable historical connection between this part of West Sussex and the United States.”
1. Photograph attached – Nick Herbert MP and Jeremy Quin MP with actress Sheila Hancock CBE at the Blue Idol reopening.
2. For more information about the Blue Idol Meeting House see http://www.blueidol.org.