Shakers talk to Probus
AFTER the usual greeting by the president, Pat Harris, Shepshed Probus Club secretary Wilf Shelton continued with club business and Stan told his funny stories.
A good meal was enjoyed by the members before the day’s speaker, David Jones, regaled is with tales of “The Shakers of New England.” Now don’t be fooled by the name, they are not a dance group; they are a religious order formed near Manchester.
Like many breakaway religions they weren’t understood in England and so, led by their leader Ann Leigh, eight of them sailed for America in 1774. Although there are similarities Shakers are definitely not Quaker or Amish.
Shakers expanded in the North East states of America, numbering 6000 members by 1820.
They decided that Ann Leigh was the second coming after Jesus even though she was a woman.
The Shakers were well ahead of the rest of the world both in innovation and education. Children were given advanced education with boys being taught in winter and the girls in summer. Boys were required to work in the fields in summer hence the schooling in winter.
Shakers earned money by making furniture such as ladder back chairs, also brushes and packaging seeds.
However they were a little extreme in their religious fervour, one of their rules being no physical contact so procreation was difficult which most probably explains why there are only three Shakers left in the world.
Many left the order with some joining the Quakers who were happy to incorporate them into their own movement. The women in the Shaker order were treated as equals far earlier than the rest of the world.
The early inventions by the Shakers were not patented and were stolen by unscrupulous manufacturers and eventually the Shakers woke up to the fact and closed the loophole.
One of the successes of the Shaker women who were excellent knitters were their big jumpers and cardigans incorporating a single letter signifying a school, college or university and these became popular throughout the world.
As mentioned earlier there are only three Shakers remaining and they are old, one man and two women so unfortunately it is certain that in the next few years the movement will become extinct - victims of their own order.
After thanking the speaker, members were reminded that the next meeting will be on October 2.
New members are always welcome and can contact our secretary Wilf on 01509 769802.