Quaker Tapestry

IssueJune 2009
Feature by Roger Stephenson

The idea began at the Friends Meeting House in Taunton in 1981. 11-year-old Jonathan Stocks felt the room where they held the children’s meeting needed cheering up. Anne was a professional embroiderer who had recently studied the Bayeux Tapestry. She had a vision of a Quaker embroidery - a series of panels each illustrating one event or idea from Quaker history. Each panel would be made (researched, designed and embroidered) by a different Meeting or group, but she would oversee the design to keep it unified.

The Tapestry was made by over 4,000 men, women and children from 15 countries over a period of 15 years. 77 panels, hung chronologically, tell the Quaker story from the beginning to the present.

The impact of all these panels together is overwhelming. “Quaker Vigils for Peace” shows a 1,000-strong silent demonstration in Trafalgar Square in May 1980. “British Quakers protest to Parliament against the Slave Trade in 1783” shows a petition from the British Quakers’ Yearly Meeting.

There are two subsidiary displays: “Weapons of the Spirit” (see PN 2508) and the Barrett Friendship Quilt from 1899-1909.