Quakers celebrate George Fox

400th anniversary celebrations: from Songs of Praise at Swarthmoor Hall to visits to the village Fenny Drayton

'Exeter Meeting’s ‘Fox 400’ event attracted young people and families, with 400 flags of homemade bunting decorating the street.' | Photo: collage picture credits at bottom of page

Quakers around the country are celebrating the 400th anniversary of George Fox’s birth this month. Friends marked the occasion with social activities including visits to the village Fenny Drayton where the Quaker co-founder was born, and appearing in a recent episode of Songs of Praise at Swarthmoor Hall. As one example, Exeter Meeting’s ‘Fox 400’ event attracted young people and families, with 400 flags of homemade bunting decorating the street. ‘We are thrilled with how the day felt,’ said Laura Conyngham, from Exeter Meeting. ‘The next day Terry Faull from Cornwall and I were on BBC Radio Devon’s Breakfast Show.’

Friends in Ross-on-Wye are planning to show off the restoration of their 1668 burial ground – now a peace garden – to mark the occasion. The arches and front elevation to the historic Meeting house have recently been renovated. Friends told the local press that the open day on 6 July aims to provide a ‘welcome opportunity to pause and reflect together after the tensions of the general election’.

Other Meetings will celebrate the anniversary with art exhibitions, including one about George Fox at New Earswick Meeting House. The event on 20 July will feature an audio display of the Quakers in Yorkshire project ‘What Canst Thou Say?’ in which Yorkshire Friends talk about their experiences of Quaker worship. The recordings are ‘a helpful tool for explaining our practice to others, and could be used in outreach and in Quaker youth work’, said the organisers.

Meanwhile, Brigflatts Meeting held an outdoor Meeting for Worship last month to mark the moment where Quakerism was born on Firbank Fell. On 13 June in 1652 George Fox spoke to 1,000 people for three hours from a rock three miles north-west of Sedbergh in Yorkshire. The rock later became known as Fox’s Pulpit.

Photos: (Left) George Fox, artist unknown, c1835, probably based on an earlier painting by Samuel Chinn (Middle) George Fox, AI generated by Open Art, 2023 (Right) George Fox artist unknown, early 1800s.

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