East Nottingham Friends Meeting House
Brick Meetinghouse Road, Rising Sun, Cecil County
The Brick Meeting House consists of three different sections, of which the brick section is the oldest, having been built in 1724. The brickwork is of Flemish bond with a simple watertable. Brick arches exist above the original door and window openings. This earliest section, measuring 30'-3" by 40'-2", had large entrance doors on the east and west walls, and a small high door on the north wall above the elder's raised benches which originally ran along the north wall. The east and west walls each had two large windows, one on either side of the entrance doors, and a small window over the door on the west wall. The north wall had two smaller high windows, one on each side of the north door. The appearance of the original south brick wall is unknown. The axis of the roof line runs north-south. In 1749, the Brick Meeting House burned and was rebuilt and enlarged by 1752. The east, west, and north walls of the 1724 building were virtually undamaged and remain in the present building. Two upper windows cut in the north wall and the north gable was rebuilt with pent cornice. The south brick wall was demolished and a stone addition was built of the same height and width as the brick section, extending to the south. This stone addition contained two one-story meeting rooms on the ground floor, each with a corner fireplace at the south corners of the building, and a large youth gallery on the second floor looking out into the brick section. Smaller youth galleries ran along the east and west brick walls. The stone section had a double doorway on the south wall with double windows on each side of the door. There was also a window on the east and the west wall of the stone addition. The 1752 Meeting House was roofed with a greenish slate. Fragments of these roofing stones are up to 1/4" thick. There was a ladder on the roof to the chimney at the south gable. In 1810 the interior of the building was again burned. Two of the 18th century poplar benches without backs were saved and are still in the Meeting House. When the house was rebuilt that same year, the interior orientation was changed, so that the seating faced the west instead of the north, with the elders' gallery along the west wall rather than along the north wall. The corner fireplaces were closed, and a stone chimney was added at the north end. At this time, the south and west doors were narrowed, the north door was lowered, and the east window in the stone section was changed into a door. The south stone gable was rebuilt and the youth gallery was rebuilt along the north, south, and east walls. Sliding paneling was installed so as to separate the brick side, which was used by the men, from the stone side, which was used by the women. The architect and builder for the 1810 rebuilding was Thomas Horton of Willistown, Pennsylvania, assisted by his brother, Jesse Horton. The plastering was done by John and William Ray of Wilmington, Delaware. In the mid 19th century, a one-story gable roofed structure was added at the southwest corner of the stone section to serve as a women's cloakroom and privy. In 1901, an overhang was added to the roof at the gables in place of the original vergeboard, and the interior woodwork and benches were painted and grained.
East Nottingham Friends Meeting House, or Brick Meeting House, as it has long been known, is of significance because of its association with William Penn who granted the site "for a Meeting House and Burial Yard, Forever" near the center of the 18,000-acre Nottingham Lots settlement which he caused to be given in 1701, at the early stage of a boundary dispute with Lord Baltimore. Originally part of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, this was at one time the largest Friends meeting house south of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Half-Yearly Meeting was held here as early as 1725. Among its early members (most of whom are buried here) were Thomas Chalkley, John Churchman, Benjamin Chandlee, and George Churchman, all notable Quakers and local citizens. A school was established at the Meeting house in 1740. A lending library was in use here at least as early as 1783. In 1778, an American Army hospital was established for sick and wounded troops under General Smallwood's command; those who died here are buried in the cemetery. Lafayette's troops camped in the Meeting House woods on the first night of their march from the Head of Elk to victory at Yorktown in 1781.