The origins of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) are found in seventeenth century England, a time when many were questioning the established beliefs of the age.
George Fox (1625-1691), founder, challenged the hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches that placed Priests and Bishops in authority. He believed that everyone was able to have a personal relationship with God and the living Jesus without the intercessions of a Priest or Minister.
Quakers believe that everyone carries an inner light which can speak to each individual person through experience and leadings of the Spirit. Spiritual life is both an inward and outward journey of seeking direction and continued revelation from God. Quakers worship in silence, listening with expectant waiting for God’s word.
Quakers came to the northern Shenandoah Valley from Pennsylvania in the early 1730’s to establish a new community. Hopewell Meeting was established in Frederick County in 1734. Centre Meeting was established in Winchester in 1776.
Read a history of Hopewell Meeting here.
Hopewell Centre Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends was created in 1999 when the two meetings merged. Both historic Meeting Houses are in active use. Please join us for Sunday worship!
Scroll down for Hopewell Meeting House and Centre Meeting House Historical Information
-Hopewell Meeting was established in 1734 on land that was granted to Alexander Ross and Morgan Bryan in 1730 and 1732 by Lt. Gov. William Gooch of Virginia.
-Ross and Bryan had come to Virginia from Pennsylvania with about 70 families to establish a new Quaker community.
-Hopewell is the oldest continuously operating place of worship in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
-The name Hopewell was chosen because many Friends in the area had come from Hopewell in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
-The Hopewell Meeting House is located on 8 1⁄2 acres, which includes a house and a graveyard.
-The original log meeting house was built in 1734 east of the present building (in the graveyard area) and burned in 1757.
-The eastern end (toward the graveyard) was built in 1759. The building was then doubled to its present size about 30 years later.
-Family names of early members include Ross, Jolliffe, Hollingsworth, Walker, Parkins, Neill, Lupton, Wright, Pidgeon, Thomas, Bond, Robinson, George, Ellis, Hiatt, Faucett and Janney.
-Hopewell Meeting grew steadily over the years and many other smaller Quaker meetings were established in the area.
-At one time there was a middle wall that separated the men and women.
-In 1910, due to roof problems, the eastern end of the building was rebuilt.
-To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the meeting the Hopewell History was published in 1934.
-Many of the oldest graves in our graveyard are unmarked which was a common practice of early Friends. The earliest marked grave is 1807. The graveyard is about 1 acre. The wall around the graveyard was built in 1870 by W.D.Lee. His initials and the date are located on one of the graveyard wall stones.
-The balconies in the building are not currently used, although they were in use through the 1950's
-A central heating system was added in the fall of 1998. Before that improvement, the two story area was closed off during the winter months and space heaters and a fireplace provided heat. In earlier days, wood burning stoves were in use.
-A pair of stylized fancy chairs, painted over softwood with cane seats, sit between the facing benches. Chairs like these were made by numerous chair makers in the Lower Shenandoah Valley during the early 19th century.
-The clerk's table, a plain well-worn "stretcher table", has been documented by a curator of The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to be one of the oldest pieces of furniture in the area.
-The walls are plain plaster and were renovated in 2011 using the original plastering process to maintain the historical integrity of the building.
-The Hopewell Meeting House was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1977. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service in 1980. In 1995 it was designated as a Frederick County Historic Site.
-Hopewell Centre Friends are currently undertaking a redesign of the old carriage shed to a multi-use outdoor shelter.
-In 1776, Hopewell records show that Friends "near Isaac Parkins" were given permission to hold a meeting for worship. This was Isaac Parkins, Jr. They met at the Parkins home, called "Milltown" and later called "Willow Lawn."
-Isaac Parkins, Jr. provided land where a meetinghouse and graveyard were established. Centre Meeting was completed in 1778.
-This building, presumably a wooden structure, served the Quakers in Winchester until about 1820.
-In 1816, Robert Wood conveyed to Sarah Zane four lots, which now comprise the 600 block of Washington Street (Washington, Monmouth, Stewart & Germain). Sarah Zane was a devout Friend who lived in Philadelphia and visited Winchester often to visit her brother, Gen. Isaac Zane, Jr. When she died in 1821, she left $1,000. to Winchester to "purchase a Fire Engine and Hose to be kept in best repair with my affection and gratitude." The Sarah Zane Fire Company still exists in the city today.
-In 1817 Sarah Zane conveyed the four lots to the trustees of Centre Meeting and a new meetinghouse was built over the next several years.
-Friends in Winchester met at this location until the Civil War when the property was destroyed. Garland Quarles, in his book The Churches of Winchester, Virginia, (1960) writes: "On March 13, 1862, the day after the Union forces under General Banks occupied Winchester, the Federal authorities demanded the key to the building and took possession. It was never used again after that time by the congregation. The fencing around the lot and a part of the inside woodwork of the building were destroyed by Bank's army, and the final work of destruction was effected by Federal General Milroy's army in September of 1863. A committee of Friends appointed to examine the property in September of 1865 reported that it found 'no part of the building left except a small part of the foundation wall.' This committee estimated the cost of replacing the meeting house at $2500 to $3000 and recommended that 'the new meeting house should be located in a more convenient and central part of the town.'"
-From 1865 to 1872, Friends met in a school house on Sharpe Street while they raised money for a new meeting house.
-In 1870, they purchased a lot on the northwest corner of Washington and Piccadilly Streets and the new meeting house was completed in 1872. This building still stands and has been used continuously since that time.
-In the center of the building is a folding wall, which divides the building into two rooms. The paneled wall can be raised or lowered by a crank located above the present ceiling.
-Until the late 1800's separate men's and women's business meetings were held. The wall would be raised for Meeting for Worship and then lowered for the separate business meetings. Necessary messages were passed between the two meetings through a sliding opening in the partition.
-In 1961, due to development at the site of the original Centre Meeting on Valley Avenue, the graveyard was moved to Hopewell.
-Until 1970, Centre was a preparative meeting under Hopewell. At that time Centre became a separate monthly meeting. In 1999, Centre and Hopewell joined together as one meeting called Hopewell Centre.