We thought we’d share part of a document that looks at some of the history and use of our local Meting house.
The story began in 2007 when a lady began extending her semi- detached cottage in Blanche Lane , South Mimms . Builders started to excavate at the back of the house to discover to their horror buried bones and eventually 32 skeletons , some in coffins.
The ghoulish discovery reached the national press – police and forensic officers sealed off the area and after foul play had been ruled out the origin of the bones were discovered. Local council records revealed that the house had been built on the site of a 17th century Quaker meeting house and burial ground. A decision had to be made about what to do with the remains. Quakers in London were consulted and eventually suggested the remains should be cremated- an undertaker informed the home owner that the cost of cremation would be around £800 per body. Fortunately it was found that Luton Meeting was willing for the bones to be laid to rest in their lovely , tranquil burial ground , without charge.
On 13th May 2008 three caskets were laid to rest in a simple , moving ceremony at the burial site . Gathered round were a number of Quakers, the home owner and builders, all wanting to show their respect to the unknown dead.
The words of John Rowntree were read out :
“ Love bridges death. We are the comrades of those who are gone; though death separates us , their work , their fortitude , their love shall be ours .”
Quaker archives record that in South Mimms meetings were held in the house of Samuel Hodges , a butcher , who was fined for holding them in 1683. In 1686 he sold land to Quakers for £5 as a site for a meeting house and in 1697 this was built along with a burial ground . By 1801 Quakers met there only occasionally and in 1820 both the meeting house and burial ground were sold for£120.
In the 1600s Quakers were persecuted for their beliefs and were not allowed to be buried in consecrated church grounds. Instead burials often took place in the countryside.
It is ironic that the site – used by Quakers , who were known for their simple lifestyles – should now accommodate a home cinema and a gym –trappings of an indulgent 21st century lifestyle.
Written by Carol Bond