In Mansfield, we still do not see the importance of George Fox, who set up a small workshop, in the town in 1647. He actually started the foundation of Quakers here over the next few years, using a house belonging to Timothy Garland, where later a Quaker meeting house was erected. When the new bus station was built, taking over the site of the meeting house and burial ground, a new meeting house was built on Rosemary Street, still in full use. The county council has provided two plaques at the bus station, giving information, about the site’s former use.
The Quakers, from this time, expanded into a worldwide peace organisation both at home and abroad. One major industry, Metal Box Production, was set up locally with many employees and in fact three mayors of Mansfield were Quakers. Nationally banks, Barclays etc, were trusted and expanded, chocolate manufacturers, Frys, Cadbury’s, initially provided cocoa as a cheap food, for poorer people. The Quakers were the first to treat mental health problems as an illness and opened a hospital in York in the 1700s called The Retreat, still in use today.
The spread of Quakers can be typified by the state of Pennsylvania in America, created by William Penn, many Quakers left England because of persecution.
The Quakers were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and provide support anywhere needed in the world.
The heritage officer with Notts County Council, Laura Simpson, organised a Quaker trail around Mansfield, recognising Quaker involvement over the last 300 years.