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Evesham Quaker Meeting

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The Evesham Meeting House - Click To Enlarge

Evesham Quaker Meeting is based at Friends Meeting House, 28 Cowl Street, Evesham (Click here for directions and map). There is a Meeting For Worship every Sunday 10.30 - 11.30 a.m., except on the 1st Sunday of the month when the Meeting is 10.30 - 11.15 a.m. There is provision for children on a fortnightly basis and on other Sundays by arrangement. Please contact the warden for details. Newcomers are welcome at all of our meetings. For a complete list of events click here.

What Happens At A Meeting For Worship?

Entrance To The Meeting House - Click To Enlarge

In their meetings for worship Quakers wait on God together in silence. Out of the silence someone may speak briefly of their thoughts and convictions or they may pray or read from the Bible or Quaker writings. There are no hymns or set prayers and no sermon or prepared address. A leaflet for newcomers is available in the foyer. Some thoughts that have been shared at Meeting may be read here along with related ideas from early Quakers and non-Quakers. Quaker Outreach have written this leaflet on The Quaker Way.

What Quakers Believe

In their everyday lives Quakers do not condone or practice any discrimination by sex, social class, or race. Neither do they condone violence in word, thought or deed. The great majority of Quakers refuse to fight in war and make clear their opposition to all forms of preparation for armed conflict. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) is recognised as one of the ‘historic peace churches’.

Quakers do a lot of work for the disadvantaged at home and abroad. Many people who admire their activities are not aware of the religious convictions under-pinning them.

It is fundamental to the Quaker way to be open to new insights and ideas from whatever source, to tolerate differing opinions and to work for reconciliation wherever there is strife and enmity.

A Little Quaker History

The Quaker movement began in the mid-seventeenth century. The founder, George Fox, was a cobbler by trade. From his earliest years he was deeply unhappy with the established Church. His followers called themselves ‘Friends of Truth’ or simply ‘Friends’. ‘Quaker’ was a derisory term used by their persecutors, but Friends have since adopted the term themselves and today ‘Friend’ and ‘Quaker’ mean the same and are used interchangeably. The correct title is ‘The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).’

George Fox was said to be a strong man with clear penetrating eyes and a commanding voice. He travelled the country preaching utmost simplicity in religious practice and saw no need for either an established clergy or elaborate church ritual, saying, ‘God does not dwell in temples made with hands, but in human hearts.’



(For more Quaker thoughts and feelings that have been shared at meeting click here. For a history of Quakers in Evesham click here.)

The Evesham Meeting House

When the movement began in the mid-seventeenth century Quakers were subject to the cruellest persecution. Meeting quietly for worship in each other’s houses, they were frequently arrested by the military and summarily thrown into prison where they had to endure the foulest and most inhumane treatment and conditions. Evesham Quakers suffered their fair share of this harsh treatment. Apart from the Town Hall, it is now no longer possible to say where these prisons were which held the Quakers. Tradition has it that one of the places is the basement of the old black and white half timbered building between the Market Place and the church gates. It is also said that some Friends were held in what is now the Almonry museum.

Despite intolerable conditions in the gaols, some Quakers continued to preach through the bars and grilles of their places of confinement, drawing large crowds. But many died as a result of their harsh treatment. It is interesting to note that well over a century later a Quaker, Elizabeth Fry, became the chief promoter of prison reform in England and more widely in Europe.

The Evesham Meeting House, February 2009 - Click To Enlarge Over the years the persecution of Quakers in the Evesham area gradually decreased and in 1676 they evidently felt confident enough to build a Meeting House, which they did on the present site in Cowl Street.

The original building was rebuilt in brick in 1698 and a burial ground provided in 1721. Sadly no drawings or paintings have been found of the 1698 Meeting House which was extensively reconstructed in 1870. However, since it was never demolished, we may assume that, apart from the entrance lobby and toilets, the Meeting House dates from 1698. It is thought that the Meeting House was originally thatched, the tiled roof being a later alteration. Internally some of the original wainscoting remains and there are names scratched into the wood which date from between 1698 and 1712. There was a school in the Meeting House at this time and the names are those of well known Friends who were active in the Society in later years.

During the nineteenth century renovations six pillars were installed inside the Meeting House, presumably for structural reasons and this now gives the interior a rather Victorian appearance.

Circle Of Chairs and Door to the Hall - Click To Enlarge Table Circle Of Chairs Windows And Door To Garden - Click To Enlarge

The Peace Garden and Burial Ground

To the side and behind the Meeting House is the Quaker Peace Garden containing trees, flowers and a burial ground, in which there are 90 graves, the oldest dated 1799 and the last 1908. A plan of the burial ground can be viewed by contacting the warden . There are no burials there now (although sometimes ashes are scattered) and the whole area has been developed as a garden, a peaceful place in which to sit and which is open to visitors on most days of the week from 9 a.m. until dusk.



Peace Witness

Most Evesham Quakers are, like Elizabeth Burlingham, “opposed to all things military”. They seek ways in which to uphold the Quaker peace testimony which is a key expression of Quaker faith. Some write letters or send e-mails, for example. One or two members of Evesham Friends Meeting occasionally attend a monthly meeting for worship outside the gates of “RAF” Croughton, where US military personnel prepare for nuclear war.



Churches Together


Evesham Friends Meeting is a member congregation of Churches Together in Evesham & District (URL TBD) and, through a representative, plays an active part in ecumenical activities. Like a number of other Evesham churches, the Friends Meeting is a Fairtrade congregation.



Outreach

Occasional events have been organised in an attempt to spread the word about Quakers and what we have to offer those who are seeking a spiritual home.


Conscientious Objection. The local picture 1914/18

For Conscientious Objector's Day, Evesham Friends plan a commemoration of the stand taken by conscientious objectors in the 1914/18 War. This to be held on Sunday May 18 at 3p.m. in the Quaker Peace Garden. We would be glad to receive personal recollections of any family or friends who were involved.The loan of relevant photographs or documentation would also be appreciated. Of course, if any relatives wanted to bring memorabilia personally on the day itself that would be most welcome. Please contact the warden.