Friday, July 13, 2007

Lake District 1652 Quaker History Tour

April 29 –
May 3, 2007
1652 Country Tour

Barry joined me in Britain for the tour. He arrived in Gatwick the morning of the 29th, rented a 7 passenger van and drove (for the first time in his life) to Grasmere to pick up me, Liz Yeats, Terry SoRelle (her husband) and Warren Wilson Reiner. We expected his drive to take at least six hours. After lunch Liz, Terry, Warren, Peter Daniels and I took a walk in the hills around Glenthorne. We wanted to hike high enough to be able to look down on one of the Lakes for which this area is famous.

When we finished our hike, we still had about 90 minutes before Barry arrived so we decide to walk into town. As we were walking around we saw Barbara Mays and Harvey Gillman. Earlier Harvey had invited us to have tea with him in town. We asked him if his offer still stood. He said yes, so we decided to have tea in a cafe over the bridge next to the river. They had an empty table and enough chairs for us to all sit outside on the terrace by the river. We were sitting around enjoying each other's company when Barry called me on my cell phone to say he had arrived at Glenthorne. We paid our bill and returned to Glenthorne where we packed the van and said goodbye to the Friends who were remaining there for a one or more days before returning home.

I was so glad to see Barry. I had missed him so much. It was also nice not to be the only person of Color. Now there were two of us. Friends had been very nice, but in some ways it was also lonely being the only person of Color. There were not many people of Color in Grasmere which was very different from London.

Barry drove us from Grasmere to Ulverston. I organized a three-day tour of the 1652 country with the assistance of Sheila and Peter Fox for us to take during the days between the Annual Meeting and Britain Yearly Meeting. The five, of us resided at Swarthmoor Hall during our tour, April 29 th – May 3rd. It was a tremendous gift and real bargain to stay there. I highly recommend it. The accommodations are nice and the price is reasonable.

Sunday, April 29th
Bill Shaw gave us a tour of the staff break
room and the Margaret Askew suite, the area where we lived. We bought dinner from a Chinese food fish and chips takeout and returned to eat it at Swarthmoor Hall. After dinner, Barry went to bed. He had had a very long day, this was his first day in Britain and he was exhausted. Warren, Liz and I looked at the different books, pamphlets and postcards on the literature table in the entryway. Warren noticed a pamphlet, The 1652 Country that gave detailed information (including driving directions) on the historic sites in the Lake District. He purchased it which proved to be important. At 8:00 PM, Bill Shaw came back to the house and opened the "Great Hall"where we worshiped. I sat in Margaret Fell's chair. At the end of worship we all thanked Bill and went to bed.

Monday, April 30th
Rex Ambler and his wife Catherine spent the
day with us. They met us at Sawley Meeting House. We used a map and the directions from the pamphlet to get us there. Rex gave us an introductory talk on George Fox, the political and religious climate in Britain in the 1600's; setting the scene for our pilgrimage. The wardens provided tea as we ate our lunch picnic style on the lawn of the meetinghouse, rested for about 30 minutes then headed off for our climb up Pendle Hill.

The climb up Pendle Hill was much more challenging than I expected. Several Friends who knew of my surgery warned me that the climb was steep and I should not feel bad if I found it too difficult to climb to the top. Barry and I heard their words. The climb was not only steep, but the ground was very slippery because it was covered with small pebbles. The wind was incredibly strong. I was very glad to be wearing my wind block fleece coat and have my gloves, scarf and hot in my pocket. I made it to the top by walking slowly and stopping to rest when necessary. To see photos of us on top of Pendle Hill look at the photographs I have uploaded in my flickr account by clicking on this link or the mosaic to the right at the top of this site.

We sat behind the shelter of the stone wall on the top of Pendle Hill where we worshiped in an atmosphere of quiet and warmth as the sun beamed down on us. The view from Pendle Hill was spectacular. It was hard to take pictures, the wind made it difficult to hold the camera still. This was one of the times I was grateful for the stabilizers they install in cameras today. Even so, Barry and Rex took most of our photos on top of Pendle Hill. Walking down was still challenging because of the pebbles, but easier for me than walking up. I was able to get photos of the many sheep who were on the hill with us. They were clearly more acquainted with people than the ones in Grasmere. The ones on Pendle Hill let us get close enough to take a decent photograph without a zoom lens.

Tuesday, May 1st
We traveled to Brigflatts M
eeting House near Sedbergh. There Tess Satchell, warden of Brigflatts Meetinghouse gave us a talk. Afterwards David and Sheila Solloway guided us to Firbank Fell where we ate lunch prior to a short Meeting for Worship. Then they guided us to Kendal Meeting House and left us in the knowledgeable hands of Sheila Williams our tour guide for the Quaker Tapestries. We began our tour with a presentation by Sheila about the tapestries. After which we viewed a video about George Fox and Quakerism told by using the tapestries. Then we were able to view the 77 tapestries.

When we returned to Swarthmore Hall we found that all of the rooms in the house were still open. So far we had been so busy that we did not have time to explore the hall. The five of us decided to push dinner time back and take the time to view the rooms then. It was wonderful to be able to walk around the rooms, touch items that belonged to the Fells and Fox. I was surprised to find the chair in which John Woolman died also in Swarthmoor Hall. We had a great time exploring and took lots of photos. When we arrived at Bill's office on the third floor he let us look and hold some of the rare books they have, including the small bible that George Fox carried around with him. When we finished our tour we drove to a local tavern, The Miners Arms, and ate dinner.

Wednesday, May 2nd
We visited Lancaster Castle. The pamphlet recommended that we park in the back of Lancaster Meetinghouse. We did. We went inside the meetinghouse to let Friends know we had parked there. While Liz looked for someone to notify, the rest of us used the restrooms or took photos of the building. Then we walked over to Lancaster Castle to meet our tour guide, Jenny Paull. She is the tour guide who specializes in giving tours that focus on Quaker history. Since Lancaster Castle is still being used as a prison today, we were not allowed to take pictures while we were inside the building. Cindy, Carolyn Terrell's daughter happened to be at Lancaster Castle (She and her family were in Edinburgh. Her husband was doing some work there) so she and her three children joined us for part of the tour. The tour included a visit to a court room, seeing many of the barbarous tools used on prisoners in the 17th & 18th century and having the opportunity to be locked up inside a 17th century holding cell.

Our next stop was Preston Patrick Meetinghouse. John Camm lived on a farm near the meeting house and he convinced Thomas Loe in Oxford who in turn convinced William Penn. Also John Woolman stayed near there shortly before he walked to York. Patricia Bradbury, Ken & Rose Hill greeted us there. They shared the history of the meeting with us and as was the practice served us tea and biscuits. Barry and I learned to carry gluten free biscuits , tea cakes or pudding with us for these moments.

Bill Shaw was scheduled to do a round up session for us to share what we experienced, and conclude with a closing Meeting for Worship in the Great Hall. However, he invited us to join him in attending

Meeting for Worship at Rookhow Monthly Meeting. Friends gather at Rookhow the first Wednesday evening of the month. Barry, Liz, Terry and I took him up on his offer and followed him to worship. Warren stayed at Swarthmoor Hall to pack and go to sleep early because he had to leave at 6:00 AM the next morning to start his journey home. The Friends at Rookhow meeting were very welcoming. The wardens, Lesley and Robert Straughton welcomed us to the Lake District. Barry and I also got a chance to talk to another couple who invited us to stay with them the next time we are in Ulverston.

Thursday, May 3rd
The next morning we began our journey back to London. On the road we stopped at a hotel and ate breakfast. It was Barry's first time eating a tradition British breakfast of bacon, eggs and sausage. He gave his mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding to Liz to eat. We self catered during our stay at Swarthmoor Hall, so we prepared our meals on our own. Our goal was to get Liz and Terry to the airport in time to catch their return flight to the USA. We arrived at Heathrow in plenty of time. We got there at 2:00 PM for their 6:00 PM flight. After we dropped them off Barry and I needed to drive to Audrey West's. We met Audrey and her daughter Yola when she attended two Fellowship Gatherings in 2002 & 2003 in Atlanta, GA. We got a little lost in London, but finally found her house. Our plan was to unload the van, return it to Gatwick and take public transportation back to Audrey's because we knew parking was very limited in her neighborhood. We were very fortunate, getting lost worked in our favor. When we arrived there was a parking space on the street outside of her house. We had to wait five minutes for the parking to be legal, so by the time we finished unloading we were able to leave the van there until 8:30 AM the next morning. We decided not to return the van until the next morning when Barry needed to leave for Gatwick. He had to leave for the airport at 8:00 AM. I was sad to see Barry return home. I really enjoyed our time together and didn't want it to end, but he needed to return to his job working for the City of Brotherly Love who had actually been in touch with him several times during our trip.

Everyone was so nice and welcoming. We had tea at all of the meetinghouses. The wardens and our guides were very knowledgeable and flexible. Sometimes we got lost and were late arriving. This was such an amazing experience. I think all Friends should have an opportunity to go on the 1652 Country tour. It helped make George Fox, Margaret Fell and the Valiant 60 more concrete for me. It was also nice to be able to be in the same physical spaces they and other early Friends were. I am still processing the entire experience.

I would love for the Fellowship to include a pilgrimage one year with our Gathering.

Living at Swarthmoor Hall was fantastic. I thought we would be in a building on the premises, but didn’t believe we would actually be housed in the “The Hall” itself. We had keys to Swarthmoor Hall!!! Bill Shaw is a caring and funny man I am glad I had an opportunity to get to know him.

Liz, Terry, Warren and I all agreed that Barry did a wonderful job driving in Britain. He had not driven on the left side of the road before. He also was great understanding and mastering the circles and the signs for the circles. I am still in awe of his driving, especially the first day when he drove 6 hours after only a couple hours of sleep on the plane. Not only did he have to drive on the left side of the road, but also the local roads in the Lake district are tiny. Regardless of the size of your car most of the roads could only handle one car at a time. Many times we or the car approaching us had to pull over to the side of the road for the other car to pass. Many times you could only pull over at a particular place where they made it a little wider specifically for the purpose. The British had a patience for this practice that I couldn't even image drivers in the USA tolerating such a practice.


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