Last weekend I went to Swarthmoor Hall – an old house in the north of England, and lest that conjure too attractive a picture, let me note that someone else on the course called it “a building only a Quaker could love”. Quakers can and do love it, though, not for beauty but for history. Margaret Fell, an early Quaker and, well after her convincement, wife of George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, lived here most of her life. She grew up nearby, moved to Swarthmoor when she married Judge Fell, and – apart from a period in Lancaster Gaol and some visits to London – lived in the Hall for the rest of her life.
(I was going to post a picture here but WordPress doesn’t seem to want to do uploads this morning.)
As the building is now in Quaker hands again (it spent quite a lot of the intervening centuries in other hands), it’s the perfect place to run courses on Quaker history and especially Margaret Fell – although they also cover other subjects!
For me, the highlights of the weekend were:
- playing the boundaries game rather than telling everyone the rules and leaving them to it
- being out of the city (cities) and actually walking the countryside
- specifically, walking the path from the railway station to the Hall in darkness – through the woods, over the beck, across the field and along the lane (I was glad of my boots, torch and OS map!)
- seeing the stone circle at Sunbrick
- doing the tour of the Hall and reaching the attic, the place which felt ‘thinnest’ to me
- really realising how much I don’t know about Quaker history – and that I do know some
- reading Margaret Fell’s own words in her house.