Evesham Quaker Meeting

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The Peace Garden

Entrance To The Quaker Peace Garden - Click To Enlarge

The Quaker Peace Garden is a walled garden beside the Evesham Meeting House at 28 Cowl Street and is normally open from 9 a.m. until nightfall.

You are very welcome to come and sit for a while.

Gather your thoughts, listen to the birds. Bring a book, enjoy the flowers.

You will not be disturbed or disappointed.

It was used as a burial ground between 1799 and 1907. Many of the 96 gravestones are still visible. Some of them belong to members of the Burlingham family. During the 19th century this Quaker family ran a successful business trading in iron goods, tools, agricultural implements and, later, fertilisers and coal. Later generations of the family left the Quakers to join the Plymouth Brethren or the Church of England. Only those who were Quakers are mentioned here.

1. John Burlingham, 1753-1828, was a leading master glover in the city of Worcester. King George III commissioned him to make gloves for the royal family. In 1807 he patented a frame in which the seam of a glove was held whilst being stitched. The women whom he employed in Worcester resisted the introduction of this frame, so he was obliged to employ other people, first in Pershore and then in Evesham. It seems that he became a major employer in the town.

2. Richard Burlingham, 1779-1840, son of John Burlingham, started off as a glover. But in 1804, in partnership with his uncle, John Bradley, and his brother-in-law, Edmund Darby, he established himself as an ironmonger. Richard and his second wife, Ann (nee Gregory), lived in Bridge Street. Richard travelled widely as a “recorded minister”, visiting Quakers in Ireland, the north of England and the southwest of England. Both Richard and Ann are buried in the Cowl Street burial ground.

Meeting House With Sun And Snow - Click To Enlarge 3. Ann Burlingham (nee Gregory), 1784-1857, married Richard Burlingham as his second wife in 1810. In a letter to one of her sons on his birthday she wrote: “The world will promise many pleasures and hold forth many temptations to follow its maxims and vain delights, but the true peace of mind is found by each submission to the restraining powers of Divine Grace.”

4. Charles Burlingham, 1806-1843, was the second child of Richard Burlingham and his first wife, Mary (nee Trusted). Charles was a cabinet maker. He repaired the “antique” chairs in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall and made a box for the Evesham maces. His business premises were in Cowl Street. In 1837, together with his half-brother, Henry (see below), he became a member of the committee of the newly formed Mechanics Institute.

The Qauker Peace Garden Looking Towards Evesham High Street - Click To Enlarge 5. Henry Burlingham, 1813-1896, was the second son of Richard and Ann Burlingham. In 1837, at the age of 24, he was taken into partnership with his father and his uncle, James Gregory, who had been in partnership with his father since 1824. In 1838 his father resigned from the company, leaving him in partnership with James Gregory. On 18 June 1839 Henry married Hannah Corbett of Pendleton in Lancashire. They had nine children. Some time around 1850 Henry bought Lansdowne, a large late Georgian house at the top of Port Street, from Lord Northwick. In 1845 James Gregory left the family business, so that Henry became the sole partner in the firm. From then on, the firm traded under the name of “Henry Burlingham & Co.” Both James Gregory and his wife, Elizabeth, are buried in the Cowl Street burial ground.

Henry expanded and diversified the business, taking advantage of the situation of Evesham at the crossing of two railway lines, east-west from London to Worcester and north-south from Birmingham and Redditch to Gloucester. The company made nails and was also an iron, steel and coal merchant. Around 1850 the firm’s coal trade grew to such an extent that it had depots as far away as Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton and owned about 60 railway wagons. Around 1860 the firm began trading in agricultural implements and also sold kitchen ranges. During the 1860s the company became a merchant for fertilisers, feedstuffs and agricultural and horticultural chemicals. Guano from Peru and sodium nitrate from Chile were used by fruit and vegetable growers. Henry retired from the firm in 1875 after 38 years as a partner. Henry was not only a successful businessman; he also played a prominent role in the town. He was Borough Auditor, 1843-1861, and an alderman, 1862-1868. From 1880 he served as a Justice of the Peace (i.e. magistrate). He was the first chairman of the Evesham Building Society and was partly responsible for the building and provisioning of Evesham Cottage Hospital. For more than 50 years Henry served as District Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. He eventually became a vice-president of the Society. He travelled widely in Europe, especially after his retirement. Henry Burlingham died at Lansdowne on 24 January 1896 at the age of 83, five months after his wife, Hannah, had died. In 1875 Hannah left the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and joined the Plymouth Brethren together with at least two of their children. But Henry and Hannah are buried together in the Quaker burial ground in Cowl Street.

The Evesham Meeting House Garden In Snow - Click To Enlarge 6. Lucy Burlingham, 1820-1904, was the eldest daughter and fifth child of Richard and Ann Burlingham, a sister of Henry. She was especially active in the RSPCA. She is buried in the Cowl Street burial ground.

7. William Wright Brown, 1830-1901, became a partner in Henry Burlingham’s firm in 1854 and married his sister, Mary, in 1855. He was a Liberal member of the Town Council and became an Alderman of the Borough and a Justice of the Peace. He instituted the Cowl Street Bank for those who attended the adult school. In the late 1870s he moved to Cotswold House in the High Street, which has unfortunately been demolished. William Wright Brown is buried beside his wife, Mary, in the Cowl Street burial ground.

8. Elizabeth Burlingham, 1826-1913, was the tenth and last child of Richard and Ann Burlingham, the youngest sister of Henry. the last of the Quaker Burlinghams. Richard Burlingham, the author of “Once a Quaker: The story of a Worcestershire family through four centuries”, knew her as “Great Aunt Bessie”. He describes how, as a Quaker, she “was opposed to all things military”. And he writes: “She was buried in the Quaker graveyard in Cowl Street, the last and twelfth member of the family to lie in this quiet corner of Evesham.”

Inauguration of the Quaker Peace Garden

On Saturday 30th June 2007 about 60 people attended the inauguration of the Quaker Peace Garden in Cowl Street. David Gee, a staff member of Quaker Peace & Social Witness, unveiled a sculpture designed by two sixth-formers from Prince Henry’s High School and created by local artist Charlie Dadge. A “Peace” rose has also been planted in the garden which is a quiet haven in the middle of a busy town. It is hoped that the garden may help people to find inner peace on the one hand and on the other hand raise awareness of the need for world peace and the nonviolent resolution of conflict.

More pictures of the Peace Garden ...

... are in the gallery.