About Bridport Quaker Meeting
There has been a Quaker presence in Bridport since the middle of the 17th century, the early days of Quakers. It is known that George Fox visited the Friends in the town in 1655 and declared, "A fine Meeting there is there." In those early days it is most likely that the Friends were meeting mainly in their homes. Persecution was not uncommon since Quakers did not disguise their feelings about what they saw as corruption in the established church.
By the 1660s the Bridport Meeting was making use of a barn on Daniel Taylor's land and in 1697 the building, along with some others, was given to the Meeting for its use. These buildings form what is now the South Street Meeting House with its committee room. The adjacent row of almshouses was placed in the care of The Daniel Taylor Trust which manages them to the present time. During its history of almost 350 years as a Quaker Meeting House the building has undergone a number of alterations and modernisations but has retained its fine character. The almshouses also have been modernised and provide comfortable accomodation for a number of local people.
In the 21st century Bridport Quaker Meeting is still a dynamic group of people who come together for 'Meeting for Worship' on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. Sitting 'in the round' we follow the same practice as other Meetings in Great Britain by gathering in silence and waiting for the inspiration of the Spirit. When a member is driven by inner prompting to speak into the silence, he or she does so by standing to speak plainly and simply for a few minutes and then sitting again. A time for reflection is left before anyone else speaks and there is no response to such spoken ministry, no discussion, argument or other form of dialogue. The ministry is accepted and valued for what it is without comment.
Quaker activities are by no means limited to Meeting for Worship and Bridport Quakers are also involved in a number of social, political and ecological issues. We have a particular concern for the difficulties experienced by asylum seekers as well as the area of penal reform. In those areas we have a close and positive working relationship with our constituency MP. As individuals and as a meeting we try to adopt a responsible approach to our buying, using fairly traded and local produce where possible.
Whilst our simple manner of meeting for worship differs from the majority of other churches, we are by no means isolated and take an active part in the local 'Churches Together' group in the town. We participate in some activities and the Friends' Meeting House is sometimes host to shared events.