Tag: Quakers

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History: Blanche Lane Quakers

The story began in 2007 when a lady began extending her semi- detached cottage in Blanche Lane , South Mimms . Builders started to excavate at the back of the house to discover to their horror   buried bones and eventually 32 skeletons , some in coffins.          

The ghoulish discovery reached the national press   – police and  forensic officers sealed off the area and after foul play had been ruled out the origin of the bones were discovered. Local council records revealed that the house had been built on the site of a 17th century  Quaker meeting house and burial ground. A decision had to be made about what to do with the remains. Quakers in London were consulted and eventually  suggested the remains should be cremated- an undertaker informed the home owner that the cost of cremation would be around £800 per body. Fortunately it was found that Luton Meeting was willing for the bones to be laid to rest in their lovely , tranquil burial ground , without charge.        

Blanch Lane Quakers Burial

On 13th May 2008 three caskets were laid to rest in a simple , moving ceremony at the burial site . Gathered round were a number of  Quakers, the home owner and builders, all  wanting to show their respect to the unknown dead.            

The words of John Rowntree were read out : 

    “ Love bridges death. We are the comrades of those who are gone;      though  death separates us , their work , their fortitude , their love     shall be ours .” 

 

Quaker archives record that in South Mimms meetings were held in the house of Samuel Hodges , a butcher , who was fined for holding them in

1683. In 1686 he sold land to Quakers  for £5 as a site for a meeting house and in 1697 this was built along with a burial ground . By 1801 Quakers met there only occasionally and in 1820 both the meeting house and burial ground were sold for£120.  

In the 1600s Quakers were persecuted for their beliefs and were not allowed to be buried in consecrated church grounds. Instead burials often took place in the countryside.        

It is ironic that the site – used by Quakers , who were known for their simple  lifestyles  – should now accommodate  a home cinema and a gym –trappings of an indulgent  21st  century lifestyle.

Written by Carol Bond

A Letter To Our MPs Regarding Military Action In Syria

Our Clerk to Luton Quakers moved quickly to contact our local Members of Parliament ahead of yesterday's vote on military action in Syria.

Dear Kelvin and Gavin

We ask you – and the Labour Party – to oppose military intervention in Syria.  In spite of claims emanating from the government that it would be legal in international law, that does not seem to be the case.  Any such action would be legally justified only if agreed by the UN Security Council.  This has been restated in terms of the "responsibility to protect", subsequently approved by UN security council resolution 1674.

Quakers nationally have made this statement:

“Quakers in Britain are appalled by the suffering and loss of life on all sides in Syria. We understand – and share – the wish of the international community to take some form of action to reduce the bloodshed, but we strongly urge those who are tempted to respond militarily to think again.

“Air strikes will kill people just as surely as chemical attacks.  All weapons must seem equally abhorrent if it is your family that is being killed. Punishment for use of specific kinds of weapon is no justification for further acts of war or for supplying yet more weapons.

"New participants in a war will breed new hatreds. Experience of other conflicts shows that supposedly simple or 'surgical' military interventions usually become messy and hard to end.  We are convinced that even when some kind of victory is claimed, the deep harm done by violence always outweighs the supposed benefits.

We beg those in power to work with diligence through the United Nations and all diplomatic channels to bring peace nearer. We challenge them to use their resources and imaginations creatively. Please don't fall into the old trap of thinking that taking any action is bound to be better than doing nothing."

It is as though the US, UK and France have learned nothing from the huge unintended consequences and terrible suffering wrought by military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, while claiming a moral high-ground that is not justified, if only given their own retention of nuclear weapons.

We understand that many MPs in all parties are deeply uneasy about or opposed to the action that the government seems likely to propose.  Please act to save the people of Syria and in all likelihood other countries from this madness.

With best wishes

Colin Hall

Clerk to Luton Quakers

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