Sunday, July 25, 2010


After doing a post on the Shakers of Canterbury, I thought it only proper that I do one on the Shakers of Sabbathday Lake. The Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community is located high on a hill in New Gloucester, Maine. The Community was founded in 1783 by Shaker Missionaries. In less than a year's time nearly 200 people gathered together on what was a small farm with five families. On April 19, 1794 those residing there made an oral covenant with each other to consecrate their all to God. Sabbathday Lake was referred to as "the least of Mother Ann Lee's children in the East", it was the smallest and the poorest of the Eastern Shaker Communities. Today the Community is the only active Shaker Community, with three members. The Community consists of 18 buildings located on 1,800 acres of land.

The Community maintains a tree farm, apple orchard, vegetable garden, commercial herb garden, hay fields, a flock of sheep, pigs, Scottish Highland cattle, cats and dogs can be found there. Other occupations include manufactoring of fancy goods, basket making, weaving, printing, and small woodenware.
The first Saturday in December the Shaker Community and friends hold a Holiday Fair. They offer baked goods which include Rosemary biscuits, fruit cake baked in a can (I personally am not a fan of fruit cake, however this cake is delicious.) The food goods line is usually out the door and around the corner before the fair has even opened. Knit socks, mittens, maple syrup, homemade cheese, books, herbs, rose water, wreaths and more. However, beware there are no BROOMS! You have to travel to Canterbury for a broom. This holiday season put the Shaker Holiday Fair on your list of events to attend, it is well worth it. Today, I'm off to the Island to deliver the broom!


On a beautiful knoll in Merrimack County New Hampshire, you will find Canterbury Shaker Village. Canterbury Village was established in 1792 when the followers of founder Mother Ann Lee formed their seventh community, which remained prominent for 200 years. The village has operated as a museum since 1992 when the last Shaker Sister in residence, Ethel Hudson passed away.
At It's height in the 1850's, 300 people lived and worked in over 100 buildings on the 3,000 acres at Canterbury Shaker Village.
The religious group known today as the Shakers was formed in 18th-century England when dissidents from various religions formed a society known as the "Shaking Quakers" or "Shakers" because of their use of "wild" dance in worship. The Shakers immigrated to the US in 1774 and eventually established 19 self contained communities from Maine to Kentucky. Canterbury is one of the oldest. No photography is allowed in the buildings at Canterbury Village however, standing in the doorway I took this photo of the Kitchen Apothecary. It is not hard to imagine the wonderful fragrance of herbs drying and the Sisters sorting, storing, and packaging seeds.
A very large airy room, with drying racks, and storage located behind the gated doorway.
Many of the herbs were stored in canning jars, pictured is the machine that gave the jars their water bath heated by the wood fired oven.

The Bee House....
The gardens...

Sister Hudson before her death had to give her permission for this barn to be rebuilt. Her one condition specified that the barn and shed be an exact replica.
DH and I took a 75 minute walking tour with a small group of people. Yesterday was overcast however, hot and humid. I spent most of my time in the gardens. Below is a photo of a vegetable garden.

and herbs....

and more....

This village contains the only intact, first generation Meeting House built in 1792 and the Dwelling House in 1793.

Not only are the Shaker's known for their "perfect chair", baskets, oval boxes, but the flat broom, common clothespin, first packaged garden seeds, threshing machine, pea sheller, apple parer and corer and a revolving oven. At Canterbury Village the Shakers invented a use for the stationary steam engine- that washed, spun, dried and ironed clothes. (My husband's personal favorite.)
Canterbury has a lot to offer, each time we return we learn something new. Did I mention it's the place to purchase the perfect broom? Mine has held up well for twelve years and yes, Mom I am bringing you home one. ~Hands to work hearts to God~ Mother Ann Lee.