10 September, 2011

Swarthmoor Hall

Another heritage open day, this time at the home of Margaret Fell, the mother of Quakerism.

Swarthmoor Hall is an Elizabethan manor house just between Ulverston and Swarthmoor built in 1586. It may have been built on the site of an earlier dwelling but records are hard to find from that era. It is now owned by the Religious Society of Friends who operate it as a hotel and conference centre, and have furnished six rooms as they would have been furnished at the time of George Fox's visits to the hall. The first room you go into is the Great Hall with a long refectory table an panelling from 1912 by Emma Clarke Abraham including wyverns. The rooms have been furnished with care and there are some fine artefacts, including a copy of the Great Bible of Myles Coverdale, the bible from which the Book of Common Prayer lectionary is taken. There is also George Fox's travelling bed - weighing a ton.

The hall was renovated from 1912 by Emma Clarke Abraham who carved the panelling in the Great Hall herself. She had windows unblocked and the structure made sound.

The real story of Swarthmoor is that of Margaret Fell. Born in 1614 in the reign of James I and VIshe lived throughout thr reign of the Stuarts dying diring the reign of Queen Anne.
During her longlife she married Judge Fell, who opened Swarthmoor to travellers for hospitality and who also allowed dissenter preachers to stay and preach, most unusual for the times. After a long and happy marriage to Thomas Fell, eleven years later she married George Fox, founde of the Friend's Religion. Imprisoned for preaching within her own home she was thrown into a dungeon in Lancaster Castle for four years, a most unpleasant experience that I have had, even though I was in for four minutes and voluntarily. Undaunted by this she went to see the King when George Fox was imprisoned asking for his release. He was released but other Friends were imprisoned. Margaret Fell is one of England's bravest women.

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