Comment 19.04.2021 (edited)
My father and brother were very involved with the Pales
for many years, when we were members of Ludlow Meeting in the 1950s.
Both my parents are buried there and my sister and I were both married there, s
o there are many connections of the heart involved. I come from the Reynolds family,
who founded Ludlow meeting in 1946 and remember treating the benches at the Pales with
Rentokil when they had a bad attack of woodworm!
I sympathise with the difficulty of finding a solution for the Pales, it is not very
accessible, not big enough to become a centre for courses or workshops, and lacks proper facilities.
I wonder if it could be used in a similar way to Dolobran meeting house, where simple
basic accommodation is offered for Friends who would like to experience its special
atmosphere in a relatively UN civilised way. Or are the proposed refurbishments necessary to maintain its structure?
As an historic building it could perhaps remain largely as it was in the days of the school.
I am sure that many options have been considered, but would like to know more about this difficult discernment.
yours in Friendship,
Dear Pales Quaker Meeting House Community,
In a conversation with one of your community I expressed the following: the secret is
1. To make many funding applications to appropriate trusts and organisations.
These have to be targeted and very specific, the right fund for the right need and it
may take a number of different grants to achieve what is necessary, rather than one blanket grant.
2. Given the above, it is clear that fund-raising is a very particular skill,
the skill of a development worker. So, I would suggest that the first funds raised
should be for the part-time employment of a development worker who is hired specifically
to work in collaboration with The Pales community to assess the needs, identify appropriate
funders and make those funding applications. Applying for funding is a particular talent
and so it is a good idea to employ someone experienced and gifted with that talent.
The Very Best of Luck! You must be able to keep The Pales in its beautiful,
historic entirety (that history is one of the points to emphasize!).
The Pales is currently a major drain on the resources; financial, time
and energies of SMAM, and the Pales Management Group who have made
huge efforts to support the Pales and find a sustainable way forward
The Pales Threshing Meeting heard many telling arguments:
The unsustainability of the current position
Not letting our heart rule our head.
Quaker Meetings as spiritual communities, not tied to buildings.
The nature of right stewardship. What could be done with (the
opportunity costs), the resources of energy, time and money which
could be released by disposing of the Pales and using those resources
more efficiently and effectively?
The increasing strengths of the arguments for living sustainably and
drastically reducing our carbon footprint have strengthened
considerably, across the time since the PMG was set up, and are
increased even further by the likely after-effects of the pandemic on
economics and life-styles.
For me The Pales is a Space for Change. Across its history it has been
a driver of Quaker spirituality. Across its history it has been a
driver of Quaker initiatives, not just in mid-Wales but across the UK
and beyond, not just in the ministry and practical action of Yardley
Warner in his work at the Pales and with emancipated slaves in the
United States, but with many Friends and others who have come to the
Pales and gone away healed or changed. As the Religious Society of
Friends are we prepared to turn our back on that heritage?
I do not think that Option 4 Executing the development plans, despite
the work and expense which has gone into their preparation, is
feasible or desirable.
I think that there are two important questions, which those concerned
with discerning a future for the Pales must consider.
Is there a Community of Users which make the retention of The Pales in
some form, justifiable and worthwhile?
Is there a feasible and sustainable Community of Ownership for the
Pales, and what is it? How could the costs and administrative effort
be made to work?
I think that the financial and administrative burdens of the Pales
must no longer devolve on SWAM. The wider Quaker community, if it
really values the Pales, must find a way to support it. SWAM must be
able to realise some or all of the capital value of the Pales for
other purposes, which would allow a better stewardship of those
I think that even in these times the raising of funds from individual
Quakers, the general public and from grant funding is quite feasible,
once the aims, size and raison d’etre of the funding required are
I think that the most feasible and desirable options are 3b and 3c.
Option 3b. Sell all but the Meeting House and Burial Ground. Use money
raised from public funding or donation as above, to set up and
maintain a Pales Trust, with the Pales retaining public access, but no
onsite warden. I think that it would important that the Pales was then
seen not just as a place to visit, but as the focus of a physically
distributed spiritual community.
Option 3c. Sell all but the Meeting House and transfer ownership to a
charitable body e.g. Addoldai Cymru, and if an endowment was required
use money raised as above for that purpose.
I very much hope that we can find a way to retain the Pales in some
form, as part of our Quaker presence in Wales and in the UK.
Alan Clark. Aberystwyth Local Meeting
Having attended the Threshing Meeting, here are a few (late) comments:
I think an essential part of the debate – before any final decisions can be taken – is to research grant-funding opportunities. Applying for grants outside the Quaker world may seem like a lot to take on but actually the biggest piece of work has already been done – the architectural plans and planning application which would be needed for any grant funding to succeed. Many renovation schemes are put together from more than one grant.
Here are a few links that might be worth exploring:
In addition, I wonder if you have spoken to the Community Council to see if they have any suggestions or small scale assistance (noting that the meeting house is mentioned on their home page):
I do appreciate you may have considered all of this ages ago(!) but I didn’t hear at the Threshing Meeting that these kinds of avenues had been explored.
The other point I wanted to make was that, for me, the Pales is an important place for Quakers across Wales and beyond and I don’t think it’s fair that Southern Marches Area Meeting should have to shoulder the whole responsibility alone. For me it’s a matter for Meeting of Friends in Wales or wider.
Best wishes for what I believe to be an extremely valuable building, both spiritually and culturally.
Author: Alun Williams
I am wondering whether there could be a link between the dilemma facing the CYP future
and the future of the Pales Meeting House. Recent SMQAM minutes draw attention to
these two critical concerns, both searching a solution, both weighed down by lack of
volunteer capacity and how to move forward . I am wondering if there is a synergy between
them, and that they have potential to give each other a new purpose and direction.
I am an Attender at the Llandrindod Local Meeting and know the Pales well.
What comes to mind is that the Pales has so much scope for inspiring and challenging
children and young people. I see in your excellent Consultation Paper that you itemise
activities which use the Pales and settings like the Pales. Could the Pales be developed
as a designated centre for CYP, with events, courses, camps, and training both for
the children and for those working with them? This could give CYP its outreach beyond Quakers,
and core values could be strengthened and harnessed within the wider community,
preparing the next generation for what the future might hold.
It may need a professional framework to develop such capacity and lift the burden of
responsibility from the Quaker community themselves. In Llandrindod we have been
exploring a similar issue, realising that we were too few to fulfil roles and
responsibilities but believing that the Meeting House was a vital spiritual resource
in the community. We are now drawing up contracts with Adult Learning Wales and with
a Professional Letting Agent so that the Meeting house can be managed without us and
we can be available to partner Adult Learning Wales and local community groups for
outreach in the community.
The Pales meeting house is a place that my father Eric Ward holds dear
and my late mother Jill Ward also loved. We scattered her ashes in the
burial ground. He has asked that we do the same for him in due course.
I know that he would like to offer support for suitable plans that
maintain the ambience and character of the Pales. The same for me as
their daughter, and for our wider family. From our point of view,
retention of the burial ground and free access to it would be an
absolute minimum, but I hope that a more positive continuing use of
the beautiful site will be found to allow it to remain a special
place. It would seem appropriate that the meeting house could still be
used by for occasional Friends Meetings, even though the continuing
costs and administration might be borne by others. I have viewed the
options presented with interest.
As I am not a member of the Society of Friends, I do not think it my
place to play a part in the decisions taken, but I wish the Area
Meeting clear sight in reaching a decision on the way forward.
Frances Cooper 29.03.21
I do hope you and the committee found this Threshing meeting helpful.
You have done so much work to get to this presentation point. Thank you.
It was very interesting and gratifying to see so many people attend the meeting today.
The Pales is obviously considered an important issue, and what ever happens, it is held by lots of people in high regard.
I know we were allowed to make comments/after thoughts, but I can not remember where? So sorry.
It may have been to leave messages on the chat during the zoom. Which, of course, I forgot to do.
I hope you do not mind if I share a couple more thoughts.
Do either of you know The Wilderness Trust? Ursula is very involved in it. They might well be a useful link for several reasons.
1) They are looking into setting up pilgrim trails around ancient places in Wales and could be interesting to discuss that with them.
2) they may have individuals who would like to take on the residence in the cottage, as it is, or do it up. ( Fairy godmother)
The other thought is I am inclined to agree with Rohan, that Glamping is the wrong way to go.
You leave behind a lot of youngsters investigating spiritual journeys. ( Just an ordinary, boring camping! Or a Youth Hosteling type thing.)
The important issue, in my observations at the meeting was, it would be part of a whole, getting people walking again, not using their cars.
( It would be to help people on spiritual connectedness with nature, so not just of a financial commitment. )
The toilet block could probably be left as well for a while, because if it is low key it will not need high status building work.
( As we know once a plan has work started on it, however small, it stays in place for years)
In fact I can not see why camping could not be advertised straight away.
The Wilderness Trust could help here and all Quaker outlets of course.
I have explained this very badly, but hope some of it makes sense.
Thank you again for all the time a effort you have put into this.
Quakers have been called ‘practical mystics’. It is as well to
remember that we have the name ‘The Religious Society of Friends’ and
that is what brings us together in first part – ‘The Religious’, the
spiritual. Primarily we come into friendship with one another in order
to nurture the spiritual aspect of our being in ourselves and in
others, not in order to do ‘good works’: they are a consequence. If it
were not so we would simply be just another secular humanitarian
society. We need to view the Pales in that light.
If the Pales nurtures, or can come to better nurture, our spiritual
life, then it serves that primary purpose. If not, then it is simply a
Undoubtedly it has potential to function as a spiritual retreat, a
place of pilgrimage, a place of nurture, but would need the required
investment to do so. That might be the adventurous way forward.
There is no doubt that our highly urbanised, frantic and pressurised
society needs such special places of retreat – places of deep calm,
peace and connection. Many people are seeking out the meditative and
contemplative traditions: we are one such, perhaps the only indigenous
one such. We should be there for people by using what we have.
Disposing of the Pales would close down an opportunity to respond to
such demand in an imaginative and powerful way: the place does half
I’m grateful to have the options set out so clearly by the PMG. I feel
very conflicted about the future of The Pales. On the one hand, I feel that
Quakers have a tendency to be sentimental about old buildings and old connections.
Is there an unconscious assumption that the new normal (Covid and the
climate crisis) will pretty much resemble the old? On the other, I
have such a strong sense that The Pales is a spiritual resource that
should be offered not only to Quakers everywhere but to Welsh (and
other) communities and individuals. I see it as a place of pilgrimage
(not a holiday destination); both the site and the MH are integral to
that character. We once held a Fellowship Day there, on the theme of
sustainability, and we made a point of using as little carbon as
possible to arrive there. I once stayed in a Benedictine monastery in
Italy where those who arrived on foot were given priority for
accommodation (a bit like a Youth Hostel); some scheme like that would
fit both the notion of pilgrimage and the Canterbury Commitment.
I do recognise that the cost burden is too great for SMAQM alone. But
there were plenty of Friends at the meeting from other AMs – might
they be willing to share the burden? The local community values it and
people used to come to its events (pre-Covid).
Just one last point: I once served on a quaker committee with Harold
Sumption, the great ‘guru’ of fundraising who had worked for
organisations like Oxfam. His view was “Discern what it is you are led
to do, then fundraise for it” – he didn’t believe in doing it the
other way round, ie cutting your coat according to your cloth. Can we
live adventurously? Bridget said that fund raising eg from grant
giving bodies hadn’t yet been explored at all. Could we at least
explore? Having said that, the cost of full implementation of the
wonderful Simmonds Mills proposal is certainly quite scary!
Comment – 26.03.2021
I regret that I can’t join you on the 27th. I value the enormous
amount of work done to produce such a detailed range of options for
the Pales. I have experienced the deep spirit of place there both from
attending MfW and also the Spirit Trek Quaker camping retreats that
were organised there for a number of years by my husband.
I have tried to envisage the various options from the point of view of
somene who might live in the cottage and how the usage of the rest of
the site by others could feel to them, as this feels an important part
of how realistic some of the options are, especially where the site is
proposed to be shared.
The only way i can foresee it working to divide the site is for the
Meeting House and burial ground to be accessed only from the lane,
with no connecting path between them across the site, so that anyone
living in the cottage would be minimally disrupted by other people
visitng the site (options 3b & 3c).
Otherwise, I think the site has to be treated as a whole to be
workable in practice (options 2,4,5).
Option 6 feels like delaying a decision.
Given its remote nature, I imagine any glamping/ camping development
will be used by those who want a peaceful site, so selling the site to
someone else who develops it in that way would not disturb the
spiritual nature of the place unduly, I feel. So, pursuing option 3b
or 3c could retain access to Quaker and Welsh heritage within a still
peaceful setting. Is it feasible to place covenants on the cottage if
Option 4 is the most ambitious and visionary. I fear the time for this
has maybe passed now – how much more energy will be needed to make it
a reality? Is that energy best directed here? How realistic would this
be for a small LM and AM, unless other interested Friends from further
afield joined them? How environmentally sustainable will a visitor/
retreat centre at The Pales be if it can only be accessed by car?
I will be holding all those in the Meeting tomorrow and all Friends in
the AM in the Light.
Comment – 25.03.2021
I would like to offer any help I am able. What maybe of particular interest
is that 5 of us set up the Friends of St Myllin to ensure the future viability
of the building for the use of the community. We have been able to raise significant
sums of money and gather a group of supporters widespread across our
community and beyond. More useful still we have been able to get
things done. Starting with smaller things and moving on to bigger
projects as our capacity grows until now we have an architect
commissioned raising his own fees from grants and sorting out disabled
access. And we are talking in the longer term of sorting a low carbon
heating system for the church. Maybe I can bring this and other
experiences to bear.
From my conversation with John Senior today I would also mention that
there are grants available for renovating cottages and the like from
the Welsh Government. I know they are available to householders and
landlords. I can dig out some links to share.
Our architect Geraint Roberts specialises in Old buildings and
churches and we were impressed by his knowledge of what we can and
cannot do in our grade 2 listed and how to work round it. Also the
necessity of taking things in stages allowing us to raise money and
gather support as necessary.
Also useful to note if we want to see what others have done: how St
Melangells Chapel and centre were set up and continue to survive as a
place of pilgrimage and retreat. There is also the church at Hairnant
which has been decommissioned to become an active community centre for
the community. Beautifully done too. Revd Kit Carter who drove this
project forward is retired but still around.
Wishing you all a good meeting and hope to pick up this thread after
Easter. Happy to forward more info and connections on the above if
Ruth Weston – Dolobran Meeting
Comment – 23.03.2021
Although I have been an attender at Ludlow for some ten years, I first
visited the Pales in the 1980s. Then, and after coming to live in the
Marches, I have greatly appreciated both its siting in the landscape,
spiritual atmosphere, and sense of peace. For me it is a spiritual
haven. Two years ago, when attending a meeting, I sat next to a Quaker
from Münster in Germany who had travelled by public transport to the
Meeting House. Those determining the future of the Pales should be
aware both of its historical links with English, Welsh, and American
Quakers, and its international appeal today.
The Pales has great emotional attachment for the Quakers. I wonder
however whether the present area meeting is the best body to carry the
project forward, since there is no active meeting worshipping in the
meeting house. The Pales takes up a great deal of the Quakers’
spiritual, financial, and administrative energy which might be
diverted to more essential Quaker testimonies.
In looking to the future we are given series of options, all of which
will involve cost and most of which mean that the Pales will be an
annual item on the Area Meetings agenda and involve having some form
of oversight by the Meeting.
In determining the future, I would wish to give priority to a scheme
which can preserve the interior and exterior of the Grade II* meeting
house so that it can be visited and appreciated by visitors and, even
still occasionally, have services and meetings in. I would also draw
attention to the last para of Quaker Faith and Practice 15.10 which
requests the Area Meeting to consider and endeavor to assess
realistically ALL the circumstances before offering for sale any and
or buildings associated with a meeting house.
The one option which has the best potential for the future survival of
the meeting house is to offer it to Addoldai Cymru. This option is
offered with sparse detail, and it does not appear that the Management
Group has explored it in sufficient detail to meet the requirements of
F and P 15.10. I understand that no-one from AD has visited the Pales
(because of Covid), and there is no indication of any endowment
required, or the nature of the agreement to be negotiated with AD. I
hope that this option will be pursued further.
Whether it is pursued or not, all the options presented will need to
raise funds. Indeed the Area Meeting has already begun a fundraising
campaign by creating the Friends of the Pales, which pitches the Pales
as ‘a living testimony to Quakers and a resource for everyone’.
One way forward, to relieve the burden on the Area Meeting, is to
create an independent charitable trust (The Pales Heritage Trust). The
object of such a Trust would be to preserve the meeting house, the
adjoining cottage, and the land for future generations. It has the
potential to be a more effective fundraising body, since, as well as
Quakers, it could have local representatives on it, who were skilled
in fundraising, the law, finance, the preservation of historic
buildings, and the countryside. Such a body would be free from Quaker
restraints upon fundraising.
Ideally the creation of a Pales Heritage Trust would take place
alongside the offer of the Meeting House to AD, so that the two could
work together. But even if the idea of the offer to AD is rejected,
then such a Trust could consider the options put forward by the
Management Committee (perhaps others), and be charged with organizing
a fundraising campaign.
To my mind the worst result of discussions at the Area Meeting in May
would be to dispose of the Meeting House, the cottage and the land (or
any part thereof) by sale or long lease. This Friend of the Pales
would consider it a betrayal of the trust that Friends have put in the
Area Meeting by contributing to its maintenance and future
John Cherry 23.03.21
Comment – 22.03.2021
Another option is to consider ‘letting’ the cottage to a
‘site/business person, who would run and develop the glamping/pod
holiday lets and run the MH business side. Semi-retired ex-hospitality
person with rent-free accommodation generating profits to maintain the
buildings and pay their wage.
Comment – 21.03.2021 – on our FaceBook page
There is always the opportunity to gift the site into a charity.
Ruskin Mill Trust for instance has such sites gifted to it for use of special needs education and respite.
Just a thought.
Comment – 21.03.2021
I would be very interested in hearing the outcome of the meeting, and
the discussions which led to the outcome, if I am not permitted to
attend (I am not a Quaker), as I am currently deputy chair of Penybont
& District Community Council and chair of Llandegley Community Group.
Comment – 18.03.2021
If logic alone were sufficient to solve our problems then Quakers
wouldn’t bother to sit in silence. This silence is not the same as
supplicatory prayer but certainly at times when we are faced with
major challenges, Quaker Faith and Practice exhorts us in the
‘Do you encourage in yourself and in others a habit of dependence on
God’s guidance for each day? Hold yourself and others in the Light
knowing that all are cherished by God’. ( A&Q 3)
Strangely, I’m not aware of being canvassed for my prayers in the
same way as might be thought acceptable in requesting money for a
fundraising campaign. I hope therefore that after the Threshing
Meeting there will be an opportunity for us to have Meeting for
Worship devoted entirely to upholding The Pales for whatever fresh
inspiration may present itself.
The Llandrindod Meeting House was recently threatened with closure and
being up for sale although most people will know that two of us
managed to unravel the problems facing us and to our amazement,
navigate a route that is about to come to fruition, benefitting
everyone. Things happened very fast when they happened and when we hit
an obstacle we stopped and went into silence and a new way forward
would present itself to us – every time. We are thrilled with the
If The Pales is kept in Quaker ownership I’d like to think that
similar inspirations will come to us. For example, young people in
Powys lost their very popular residential facility a few years ago:
the Pales might make a wonderful centre for young people seeking
solace and peace in these turbulent times if similar opportunities
were presented similar to when young Quakers camp there. Outreach to
young people might be a wonderful gift to the community.
Adult Learning Wales – the organisation that will be taking on the
lease of the Llandrindod Meeting House (and gifting the Local meeting
with sole use every Sunday) – was previously two organisations – WEA
and the YMCA Community College. Whilst the learning provided is for
adults (16 years +), they are also funded to provide family learning.
We haven’t yet had any conversations about this as we have been
focussed on securing the lease. However, there is every reason to
believe that we may be able to work with them on a programme of
courses and workshops to link with the Consultation Paper on Provision
for Children and Young people in SMQ. And such a programme could be
linked to the Pales. The same applies to adult learning.
I offer these as possible discussions points for the future – the
near future hopefully – so long as the decision on The Pales is not
taken on purely logical financial terms. In my opinion, the lowest
possible common denominator would be to sell it to the highest
18 March 2021
Comment 12th March 2021
Points to Throw on to the Threshing Floor
Firstly, we owe thanks to the PMG who produced the well written and
well researched report which is the subject of this threshing Meeting.
Unfortunately, despite six years of effort, the conclusion is similar
to the last report and the previous threshing meeting – that there
is no obvious solution.
We have now laboured for at least 15 years to my personal knowledge
and if the answer has evaded so many able people for so long, then are
we asking the right Question?
We have been asking: What is the best solution for the benefit of
How about asking: What is the best solution for the benefit of the
Let us assume for a moment that The Pales has a personality, a spirit.
This is not a great intellectual leap, as so many people Quakers and
non-Quakers have spoke of it’s atmosphere, its effect on their own
Then consider what is best for the Pales.
Quakers are not the only people who can provide loving care. The Pales
may have a better more useful future without us, by leaving the nest
it can spread its wings.
The conclusion emerges that We do not need the Pales, and the Pales
does not need us.
Let us face the brutal fact that none of really want to hear – that
we do not need the Pales.
If we did not already own it, would we now be sending our Trustees to
inspect all the redundant chapels and churches in the hills of Powys
and instructing them to buy one for us? I think not. All the proposed
solutions are based on making the best of what we have, not on
fulfilling a known clear need.
It is not needed as a Meeting House. There is no Local Meeting needing
to use it weekly. At the time of the last report in 2015 the future of
Llan’dod Meeting house was in doubt, and there was a possible need
for a meeting House at Llandegley to serve the wider area. I am told
that there is now a viable plan for Llan’dod Meeting House, so that
factor in favour of the Pales has gone. Our Area Meeting, as part of
its low carbon concern, is moving towards a policy of encouraging
physical gatherings to be held if possible only where there is public
transport, so use of the Pales by the wider AM will fall even
Each factor we look at reluctantly forces one to the same conclusion
– that it is a “nice-to-have”, not an essential need.
Does the Pales need us?
We do have a tendency to act as though Quakers are the only group who
can provide loving care. There are other groups of good people who are
fulfilling the needs of others and The Pales should be given the
chance of fulfilling actual needs for someone, rather than being
constrained by our straitjacket.
After much thought I have reluctantly concluded that we should offer
the site for sale or as a gift* to an organisation with whose objects
we can concur, leaving us only with responsibility for the Burial
Ian Sterry* If we retain the site it could cost us £120,000 to
refurbish the cottage, which must be done, so even though we are a
charity it could be argued that gifting the property is in the
charity’s best interests.
12th March 2021