Quaker tapestry returns to Somerset after 36 years

Quaker Tapestry Image copyright Quaker Tapestry
Image caption The Quaker Tapestry project was started more than 30 years ago in a Sunday school in Taunton

A tapestry that was started 36 years ago in Somerset and has travelled the world has returned to Taunton.

Some 4,000 people from 15 countries have been involved in making the 77-panel tapestry, which explores the Quaker influence on the world.

Bridget Guest, from the Quaker Tapestry Museum, said: "It's everybody's social history, not just the Quakers'."

Twenty panels will be on display in Taunton's Temple Methodist Church until 3 June.

Image copyright Quaker Tapestry
Image copyright Quaker Tapestry

Depicting stories from the past 350 years, the enormous community tapestry was started in a Sunday school in Taunton in the early 1980s.

Designed as a "more interesting" alternative to colouring in for the children, the idea caught on and the project went international.

"They had great fun in their Sunday school making [the first panels] and they didn't want to stop so it grew and grew," said Ms Guest.

"It's a record of significant dates or significant happenings over 350 years seen through Quaker eyes."

The selection of panels chosen for the Taunton exhibition covers subjects as diverse as the Crimean War, the slave trade, criminal justice and social reform.

Normally held at the Tapestry Museum in Kendal, Cumbria, the panels will be on show in Somerset until 3 June.

Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, do not share a fixed set of beliefs but they do try to uphold a set of values, which they call testimonies, around themes such as truth and equality.

Their beliefs meant that many felt unable to serve in the armed forces during wartime.

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