The house is owned by the Religious Society of Friends. It’s lovingly made available for groups with a basic commitment to peace, which I hope our Bishop’s staff is. Food is home-cooked and extraordinary. The house has a lived-in feel, not like a museum at all. Facilities are excellent — indeed they’re infinitely more homely but also stimulating than an average hotel-for-business-meetings site.
It’s good to work in a place where the Quaker tradition, that has played such a key role in British Christianity, is honoured and lived out. I was reminded of what it stands for by some words by her children about Joan Vokins, wife of Richard Vokins of West Challow, died 1690, after whom the annex in which I stayed is named:
She was one that did truly fear the Lord, and sought the prosperity of his precious Truth [“and” — surely a mistake] above all the glory and honour of this world. Whensoever the Lord was pleased to send her forth in his service, she went without murmuring, believing the Lord would carry her through it, though weak in body; who did enable her to bear a fathful living testimony to his Name, in this her native land, and in places remote beyond seas as in Barbados, and in other parts of America and in Ireland, through great exercises, in patience and cheerfulness, it being as meat and drink to her to do his will.