Penn 300 – Celebration the life and legacy of William Penn

To commemorate William Penn’s life and legacy this year, 300 years after his death, Jordans Quaker Meeting arranged an exhibition and a series of events between the 25th June and the 31st July.

The very popular Andrew Murphy talk (followed by supper) was the first event, and drew around 60 attendants on a lovely summers evening. Andrew (professor of Politics at Rutgers University) talked about Penn’s vast legacy and the paradoxes in his life. The talk was followed by a light supper of jacket potatoes and various toppings. People were able to enjoy further discussion over supper.

On invitation, the children and teachers from the 2 local schools visited the exhibition early in July; it was a first visit to Jordans Meeting House for most of them. The children enjoyed learning about Penn and Quakerism and went on to prepare a Children’s Trail and Penn Posters.

The next event was ‘Afternoon Tea with the Penns’ which did not have a large turnout. However several people attempted one or more of Guli Penn’s baking recipes. Deciphering and improvising were part of the fun and most of the baking was palatable, with the Portingall cake proving the most popular. It was a fun afternoon, enjoyed by bakers, tasters and exhibition visitors alike.

Nigel Pascoe’s one man re-enactment of the Penn-Mead trial was the next event. The brilliant writing, combined with the retired QC’s powerful voice and masterful delivery, brought to life this important landmark case in legal history. It was attended by 60 people and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The swan song of the events was ‘Notes on Penn – William Penn in Words and Music’ – arranged by Catriona Troth and Jane Faulkner. About 90 people attended the concert which offered glorious baroque music by the 3 musicians (Jane Faulkner – Violin, Esther Cavett – Keyboard and Victoria Barrett – Oboe). The music was interspersed by readings from Penn’s writings, sensitively and beautifully delivered by the narrators, Catriona Troth and Martin Pounce. The concert, followed by tea and cakes, was a delight and a perfect ending to the event series.

A total number of 428 visitors visited Jordans, 192 specifically for the exhibition, and the others for one or more events as well as the exhibition. During the same period last year, we welcomed 80 visitors in total, so this was a huge increase for us and showed that the effort we had put in on preparation and publicity had made a substantial difference. The events also raised about £1000 for the 3 chosen charities.

In parallel to this, a travelling exhibition was created by Rose Tolley and Takako Barker of Chorleywood Meeting, and put on display at St Mary’s Church, Rickmansworth and at the Mill End Community Centre.
We are very pleased with these results and extend a thank you to all who made Penn300 a success.

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