Friend Carol Bradley recently visited with UK Quakers to attend Britain Yearly Meeting‘s annual gathering. She brought back photos and stories of her travels to locations that were significant in the life of early Quaker George Fox. Here are some of the things she saw and learned. Quotes are from George Fox’s journal.
Hartshill Quakers organized a day out by charter bus for folks attending Britain Yearly Meeting. A young man from the Meeting, dressed as George Fox, read aloud from Fox’s journal in each place where the tour stopped. The Meeting provided a lovely lunch for 25. The folks at Drayton church receive frequent Quaker ‘pilgrims’ and were very hospitable, with tea and homemade ‘biscuits’. At Market Bosworth, we found the priest had not known the story of Fox being ejected from the church and was as entertained as we were.
Fenny Drayton: Where Fox was Born
“ I was born in the month called July in the year 1624 at Drayton-in-the-Clay in Leicestershire. My father’s name was Christopher Fox; he was by profession a weaver, an honest man and there was a seed of God in him. The neighbours called him ‘a righteous christer’. My mother was an upright woman; her maiden name was Mary Lago, of the family of the Lagoes and of the stock of martyrs…”
Mancetter: “Despair and Temptation”
“…after this I went to another ancient priest at Mancetter in Warwickshire and reasoned with him about the ground of despair and temptations, but he was ignorant of my condition; and he bid me take tobacco and sing psalms. Tobacco was a thing I did not love and psalms I was not in an estate to sing, then he bid me come again and he would tell me many things, but when I came again he was angry and pettish, for my former words had displeased him. And he told my troubles and sorrows and griefs to his servents, so that it got among the milk lasses, which grieved me that I should open my mind to such a one.”
Atherstone: “Glory and Life Shined Over All”
“…from Coventry, I went to a place called Atherstone and when I was two miles off it the bell rang upon a market day for lecture, and it struck at my life, and I was moved to go to the steeplehouse, and when I came into it I found a man speaking and as I stood among the people the glory and life shined over all, and with it I was crowned, and when the priest had done I spoke to him and the people the truth and the light which let them see all that ever they had done, and of their teacher within them, and how the Lord had come to teach them himself, and of the seed of Christ in them; how they were to mind that, and the promise that was the seed of God within them, which is Christ.
And they were generally pretty quiet, only some few raged and it set them in a hurry and under a rage. Some said I was mad and spoke to my outward relations to tie me up. And I passed away in peace in the power of the Lord God, and the truth came over all and reached into the hearts of many people.”
Market Bosworth: “We Passed In the Truth of God”
“Then I was moved to go to Market Bosworth on market day. He that preached that day was Nathaniel Stephens, who was priest of the town where I was born. He raged much when I spoke to him and the people in the steeplehouse and yard of the truth and light within people to guide them to Christ from sin. And he told the people I was mad (though he said before there was never such a plant bred in England), and he bid the people they should not hear me, and the clerk bid us to go out of the steeplehouse, for he was to lock the door. When we were in the market place Friends asked where was the place to try the ministers but in the steeplehouse, and bid them to come forth and prove their call and ministry. But the people of the town and market fell upon us and stoned us very sore, and abused us, hundreds of them with stones, a great way out of the town, that it was a wonder we escaped with out lives, and so we passed away in the truth of God, to the shame of both priests and professors, for there were many there; and Friends had but little harm.”