Friends’ Meeting House
The timber-framed house which Joseph Winch built in 1624 was registered as a Quaker meeting place in 1689, the garden being used as burial ground. In the same year one of the main rooms was enlarged by one bay as the meeting room, and a wing was built out at the back of the dwelling a little later. The building was wholly refurbished in about 1780, when a brick extension was added for the women’s meeting, connected to the old by shutters in the traditional way. The older building was re-faced in brick, and the fittings in the old meeting room renewed. While Friends were not using the building late in the 19th century, the Wesleyan Methodists used it. Regular meetings recommenced in 1926, and in 1957 a classroom and kitchen were added at the back and other improvements were made to meeting house and cottage.
This description of 1665 funeral of Edward Perot described by Thomas Ellwood tells of the persecution of the Quakers:
“When as the body was being borne on Friends shoulders along the street in order to be carried to the burying ground, which was at the town’s end, being part of an orchard belonging to the deceased …. Ambrose Benett [of Bulstrode] a barrister at law and Justice of the Peace …. rushed out of his inn with his constables and a rabble of rude fellows and having his drawn sword in his hand struck one of the foremost bearers with it, commanding them to set down the coffin. Enraged by their delay, Benett set his hand on the coffin and threw it to the ground in the open street and in the cartway, so that all the travellers that passed by (whether horsemen, coaches, carts or wagons) were fain to break out of the way to go by it, that they might not drive over it. The body was later buried in an unconsecrated part of the churchyard. The Friends were taken before Benett and another J.P. at the Griffin Hotel, ten of them being committed to the Gaol at Aylesbury.”
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