Chichester Meetinghouse sits on 7 acres of land in the center of Upper Chichester Township in Pennsylvania. The meetinghouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. This is a stone meetinghouse that was the place of worship for a Quaker community founded over 250 years ago. The community is no longer active however Quaker Meeting for Worship is held two times a year and open to all. The property is under the care of another Quaker Meeting about 7 miles away in Concordville, Concord Meeting. Concord Meeting is a part of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting which is the governing body of the active Quaker community in the area.
On the grounds is a Quaker burial ground, a caretaker’s house, an old barn and carriage shed and a wooded area with a walking path that is under construction.
The meetinghouse is the original stone building as constructed in 1769. The outer structure's original stone remains stable but the interior will need extensive repair as there was no conception of a moisture barrier beneath the flooring so the joists holding the floor have suffered water damage as well as termite damage. The Meetinghouse was never “improved” with plumbing or electricity. Original partitions and flooring held together with wooden pegs and square nails show the plain style and quality of the craftsmen who built the meetinghouse. The meetinghouse has deep windowsills and wooden shutters which still protect the early wavy glass windows. There is an very old wood stove still used for heating.
The caretaker’s house, a small 2 bedroom house with hearths in the two bedrooms, was built in 1703 and it is one of the oldest homes in the United States, certainly the oldest in Upper Chichester Township. Our caretaker and docent, Judy Reese, lives there with her service dogs, Harper Lee and Shakespeare.
There is also an early three-story board and batten barn built of white oak adjoining the later open-bay stone carriage shed that was erected in 1768. There is a mounting block built in 1777 especially for the use of women and children and the elderly to help them get into carriages and on horseback.
The cemetery is a stone wall enclosed area that holds the remains of the earliest Friends as well as many Lenni Lenape who are buried here in unmarked graves. For early Quakers (pre 1800's) it was a sign of ostentation to have a gravestone. In keeping with their testimony of simplicity all outward markings of wealth or status were avoided and frowned upon. Friends later changed their attitude towards gravestones after the 1820's but to this day in Quaker cemeteries you will usually only find plain headstones. The great great grandmother (Rebecca Barnard Flowers) and great great great grandparents (Richard Barnard and Frances Lambe Barnard) of Abraham Lincoln worshiped at Chichester and are buried in the grounds in unmarked graves.
The wooded area in the back of the property comprises about two thirds of the area and may be the largest undeveloped wooded area in the township. The property has many 300 + year old yew trees, some of the finest specimens in the US.