On 13 June 1652, George Fox came to speak to the Westmorland Seekers, after his Pendle Hill vision.

He describes the occasion: “While others were gone to dinner, I went to a brook, got a little water, and then came and sat down on the top of a rock hard by the chapel.

"In the afternoon the people gathered about me, with several of their preachers.

"It was judged there were above a thousand people, to whom I declared God's everlasting truth and Word of Life freely and largely for about the space of three hours."

After this encounter George Fox travels on to Ulverston where he convinces - in fact convicts - Margaret Fell, when he stands up to preach in Ulverston Parish Church.

Margaret Fell had pastoral, organisational and theological skills, and because she is married to Judge Fell she also had access to political power in London. Swarthmoor Hall, which was her home, effectively becomes Quaker Headquarters, and it is far enough away from London to be left alone.

Although Judge Fell never became a Quaker, his standing gave them protection and a certain level of immunity.

Quakers now had a set of very able leaders; a numerical base and a safe headquarters from which to operate.

Although life later became difficult for Quakers (particularly after the restoration of the monarchy) they were well enough established by this time to re-organise and regroup for the long haul.

Quakers today still believe in the idea of a direct encounter with God and that everyone is equal: George Fox's original vision lives on.

Barbara Mansell

Society of Friends

Swarthmoor Hall