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Bill Samuel, August 4, 2002
Bill Samuel

Quaker Tour of England, Page 3 of 22

Jordans is a small community near Beaconsfield, about 25 miles northwest of London, where there was very early Quaker (Friends) activity. It includes an old farmhouse, the Mayflower Barn, the Jordans Friends Meeting, and a small cooperative village.

[Jordans farmhouse-outside view] [Jordans farmhouse-inside view]
Jordans farmhouse  photos by Bill Samuel, 18 June 1998

The name of the farm appears to date back into the late Middle Ages when some long-forgotten Jordan or Jourdain farmed the area. The known history of the farm beings in 1618 when Thomas Russell bought it. Part of the present farmhouse was already there, and Thomas Russell added on to it in 1624. His son, William Russell, took over the farm in 1639. He was one of the early Quakers, and meetings for worship began to be held regularly in the farmhouse in 1659. Such prominent early Friends as Isaac Penington, James Nayler, and Thomas Ellwood lived in the area. George Fox and William Penn were among those who visited Jordans and worshipped there. During the 30 years Jordans Meeting met in the farmhouse, there was much persecution and the Meeting was frequently broken up by order of the local justices, with attenders being hauled away to prison. The farmhouse was used as a guest house for private guests and conferences, under the direction of a committee of Friends, but more recently Friends sold the property.

[Jordans meetinghouse-outside view] [Jordans meetinghouse-inside view]
Jordans Meetinghouse  photos by Bill Samuel, 18 June 1998


The Jordans Meetinghouse went up in flames on March 11, 2005. The roof was completely destroyed, and other damage was considerable. The Meetinghouse will likely be restored to look again much as it did.

The Jordans Meetinghouse was built in 1688, after the Declaration of Indulgence gave freedom to Friends to build their own meetinghouses. It was built in just six weeks, using simple brick for the floor and the outside walls. The original floor is still in use, and about 80% of the glass is original. The ministers' gallery was added about 1730. Among those buried at Jordans are William Penn and Isaac Penington.

The architecture was designed to turn worshippers inside themselves, with windowsills above the level of sight. The Meetinghouse exemplifies common features of early meetinghouses such as a ministers' gallery, a facing bench below for elders, and men's and women's sides.

Jordans Meeting was a strong meeting until about 1740, after which it practically died out. In the 19th century, it was opened up just once a year. The Meetinghouse is now again in active use.

In the early days of Friends, vocal ministry was chanted, and included a lot of repetition. It arose out of common experience, rather than particular insights. It was nurtured by the preparation of a life in the Presence. Friends knelt when offering vocal prayer, and listeners stood during prayer. The hassocks in the Meetinghouse were originally used for kneeling. The God worshipped by Friends is exemplified in such scripture passages as:

  • Isaiah 57:14-15 - "...remove every obstruction from my people's way....I dwell...with those who are contrite and humble in spirit..."
  • Psalm 46:8-10 - "Come, behold the works of the Lord...He makes wars cease to the end of the earth...Be still, and know that I am God!..."
  • Psalm 51
    • "You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart." (verse 5)
    • "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me." (verse 10)
    • "For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (verses 16-17)
  • Psalm 62:1-2 - "For God alone my soul waits in silence..."
  • Habakkuk 2:18-20 - "What use is an idol...the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!"
  • Jeremiah 31:31-34 - "...I will make a new covenant...I will put my law with them, and I will write it on their hearts..."
[Mayflower Barn at Jordans-outside view] [Mayflower Barn at Jordans-inside view]
Mayflower Barn at Jordans  photos by Bill Samuel, 18 June 1998

The Mayflower Barn at Jordans was built of ship's timbers believed to be from the Pilgrim Fathers' Mayflower. The Mayflower Barn is today used for wedding receptions, social occasions, and meetings.

A group of Friends bought the Jordans farm in 1911. In 1919, the planned a village to be built by Quakers (Friends) and other conscientious objectors to war. The village was to be self-owning and self-supporting. They established Jordans Village Industries, which produced handmade furniture. The furniture was too expensive for the market, so the company went broke in 1924. In 1950, the foundation controlling the village established 200 rules for its operation, of which three were foundation rules:

  1. It was to be a Christian community run on Christian principles.
  2. There was to be one vote per shareholder, rather than per share.
  3. The above two rules can only be changed by 2/3 vote of shareholders (since half of the shareholders have disappeared, these rules can never be changed).
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12. Cartmel
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
15. Lancaster Castle
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16. Brigflatts Meeting
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22. Reflections After the Tour

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