Simon Jenkins, in England’s Thousand Best Churches, describes Jordans Meeting House as ‘the Quaker Westminster Abbey’. Built in three months in the autumn of 1688, Jordans is one of the first Quaker meeting houses built after James II issued his Declaration of Indulgence in 1687, which allowed Quaker and other non-conformist groups to worship lawfully for the first time.
The Meeting House has several important historical associations: it is the burial place of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, his first wife, Guilielma, his second wife, Hannah, and nine of his children. Other early Quakers who worshipped here and are buried in the grounds include Isaac Penington and his wife Mary Springett, Thomas Ellwood (poet and friend of John Bunyan and John Milton) and Joseph Rule.
Although the oak-beamed roof of the Meeting House was largely destroyed in the fire of 2005, the interiror of the Meeting Room - the original wooden panelling, the brick floor and most of the leaded windows - survived intact. And the tranquil atmosphere of the place has, thankfully, been restored.
In recent years, Jordans has supported the development of the ‘Quakers in The World’ web portal - a unique initiative that seeks to interpret the Quaker movement to the modern world through the lens of Quaker actions over the past three centruies. This ongoing project welcomes contributions from Quakers anywhere in the world.