Intricate quilts on show in Wisbech to celebrate 300 year-old history of Quakers centre

QUAKERS are staging an exhibition of their intricate quilts to celebrate the 300-year history of their meeting house in the Fens.

The intricate patchworks bring a splash of colour to the simple interior of the building.

“A lot of Quakers quilt and a lot of Quakers quilt for a reason,” said Jill Nash, one of the friends.

“It pleases our thinking on simplicity, it uses natural products. A lot of Quakers quilt because it’s a constructive thing to do.”

Chris Donald said the exhibition was inspired by a banner quilted by Norwich Quakers, which appeared on the cover of a religious magazine.

The banner, which greets you as you enter the panelled meeting room, has been carried at peace and anti-nuclear demonstrations around the country.

A quilt made by Quaker children, a quilt commemorating the end of slavery and abstract designs all feature.

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Friends of Truth - as they were originally known - began meeting in Wisbech in the late 17th Century, defying religious persecution which saw eight of them imprisoned.

In 1703, the Toleration Act allowed them to be more open about their faith and in 1711, they converted two thatched cottages on the North Brink beside the Nene into a meeting house.

The cottages were demolished to make way for the Current Friends Meeting House in 1845.

Over the years, their number has included Thomas Peckover, grocer who founded the town’s first bank in the 18th Century and occupied nearby National Trust property Peckover House.

Thomas Clarkson - the town’s anti-slavery campaigner - was reckoned to be “nine-tenths” Quaker.

Chris said the meeting house - next to Peckover House - would be open from 11am – 5pm on Friday and Saturday.

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