August 14th, 2010

elizabeth fry border

Ashgrove Burial Ground

Today was the decennial visit to Ashgrove Quaker Burial Ground near Shaftesbury. This is a burial ground in use by Quakers since the 17th century, at which time they, like other non-conformists, were often refused permission to be buried in churchyards. This ground and access to it was given in perpetuity to the Society, but in order to keep the access open it has to be used at least once every 12 years. So to be on the safe side, there is a meeting there every 10 years and a document is signed by all present and buried in a bottle on the site. It is still in use for the occasional burial and scattering of ashes.

We arranged a coach from Winchester, booking one for about 20 people but a 50-seater turned up. This was very nice for the passengers since we had plenty of room, but a bit of a challenge for the driver who had to manoeuvre it through some narrow streets and lanes. He was an excellent driver, who also kept good-humoured and helpful throughout the whole day, which probably seemed a bit bizarre to him. Since we were travelling via Salisbury we dropped into the new Meeting House there. It's an older building which has been renovated to a high standard and has a lovely light meeting room, with several other rooms available for use by local groups. We picked up a few more Quakers and carried on to Shaftesbury Meeting House for a very quick cup of tea and lunch. The plan was to have an hour there, but we were held up by the traffic in Salisbury due to Supercars at Wilton House which was right on our route! However we managed to get to the start of the walk down to the burial ground on time.

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