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Quaker Tour of England, Page 13 of 22
Swarthmoor Hall in Ulverston was built about 1586 and owned by George Fell. In the early 1630's, his son, Thomas Fell, married Margaret. Both Thomas and Margaret were from landed gentry families. Thomas Fell was a judge who rode a circuit and so was often away from home. He left his very capable wife Margaret in charge of the estate when he was away.
On 28 June 1652, George Fox arrived at Swarthmoor Hall:
Thence I went to Ulverstone, and so to Swarthmore to Judge Fell's; whither came up one Lampitt, a priest, who was a high notionist. With him I had much reasoning; for he talked of high notions and perfection, and thereby deceived the people. He would have owned me, but I could not own nor join with him, he was so full of filth. He said he was above John; and made as though he knew all things. But I told him that death reigned from Adam to Moses; that he was under death, and knew not Moses, for Moses saw the paradise of God; but he knew neither Moses nor the prophets nor John; for that crooked and rough nature stood in him, and the mountain of sin and corruption; and the way was not prepared in him for the Lord.
He confessed he had been under a cross in things; but now he could sing psalms, and do anything. I told him that now he could see a thief, and join hand in hand with him; but he could not preach Moses, nor the prophets, nor John, nor Christ, except he were in the same Spirit that they were in.
Margaret Fell had been absent in the day-time; and at night her children told her that priest Lampitt and I had disagreed, which somewhat troubled her, because she was in profession with him; but he hid his dirty actions from them. At night we had much reasoning, and I declared the truth to her and her family. The next day Lampitt came again, and I had much discourse with him before Margaret Fell, who then clearly discerned the priest. A convincement of the Lord's truth came upon her and her family.
Soon after a day was to be observed for a humiliation, and Margaret Fell asked me to go with her to the steeple-house at Ulverstone, for she was not wholly come off from them. I replied, "I must do as I am ordered by the Lord." So I left her, and walked into the fields; and the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Go to the steeple-house after them."
When I came, Lampitt was singing with his people; but his spirit was so foul, and the matter they sung so unsuitable to their states, that after they had done singing, I was moved of the Lord to speak to him and the people. The word of the Lord to them was, "He is not a Jew that is one outwardly, but he is a Jew that is one inwardly, whose praise is not of man, but of God."
As the Lord opened further, I showed them that God was come to teach His people by His Spirit, and to bring them off from all their old ways, religions, churches, and worships; for all their religions, worships, and ways were but talking with other men's words; but they were out of the life and Spirit which they were in who gave them forth.
Then cried out one, called Justice Sawrey, "Take him away"; but Judge Fell's wife said to the officers, "Let him alone; why may not he speak as well as any other?" Lampitt also, the priest, in deceit said, "Let him speak." So at length, when I had declared some time, Justice Sawrey caused the constable to put me out; and then I spoke to the people in the graveyard.
Margaret Fell became convinced through the preaching of George Fox. After Judge Fell came home, Fox spoke to him:
After we had discoursed some time together, Judge Fell himself was satisfied also, and came to see, by the openings of the Spirit of God in his heart, over all the priests and teachers of the world, and did not go to hear them for some years before he died: for he knew it was the truth that I declared, and that Christ was the teacher of His people, and their Saviour.
Margaret Fell became a key leader among Friends, and remained so until her death 50 years later in 1702. After Judge Fell's death, Margaret married George Fox. Margaret wrote much, including Women's Speaking, a tract to show that the ministry of women was "Justified, Proved, and Allowed of by the Scriptures." In 1664, she was imprisoned for holding illegal meetings.
Swarthmoor Hall served as a place for traveling Friends to rest, and a center of communication for the Friends' movement. Margaret stayed in touch with many traveling ministers, and administered the Kendal Fund which provided financial help for Friends in the ministry.
In 1759, Margaret Fell's grandson had to sell Swarthmoor Hall, and it was in the hands of absentee landlords for about 150 years. In 1912, Emma Clark Abram, a descendant of Margaret Fell, raised money from Friends to purchase the Hall. She left it to a nephew, who sold it to London (now Britain) Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1951 for £9,000. Swarthmoor Hall was furnished by Roger Warriner, a Friend who is an antique dealer. The Yearly Meeting did little with it for a long time, but agreed in 1989 that it needed restoration and has been raising funds for that purpose. Friends' plan for the Hall includes it being a place for social and community action.
In 1688, George Fox realized Friends could not always meet at Swarthmoor Hall, and bought a small property from the Swarthmoor estate. The Meetinghouse has been in continual use ever since. A school for Friends' children was started in the Meetinghouse in the 1690's.
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|2. Bunhill Fields/Bunhill Meeting
||13. Swarthmoor Hall and Meeting
|3. Jordans Meeting/Barn/Farmhouse
||14. Quaker Tapestry Exhibition at Kendal
|4. Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
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||19. The Retreat Mental Hospital
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||21. Earlham Hall
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||22. Reflections After the Tour
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