Saturday, October 16, 2010

Canterbury Shaker Village: A tour and a new broom

Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury, New Hampshire, is a well preserved example of a Shaker Village. The Shaker community was established at Canterbury in 1792 and remained active for about 200 years. The word simplicity comes to mind when thinking about Shakers, but industrious, pious and inventive can also be used to define this community.
Communal work and dining were daily routine here. Shakers were practiced celibacy, but took in children to their community, and they cared for the poor. They were pacifists and believed in equality.

By 1848 there were 100 buildings at the village and the community had grown to 300.
The buildings have a simple understated beauty. The village is visually stunning. The proportions of the structures, window fenestration , paint colors, and quality of wood work all lend to the appeal of the buildings.

Print Shop and Broom Making Shop
The lower part of this building houses what was the Shaker print shop. The Shakers kept up with "technology" and for it's day, had the latest in print machinery. They printed items such as seed packets for their own enterprise, but also took in printing from the outside to generate income.
Upstairs is the Broom making shop. This was a real treat!
Everyday the village has volunteers at the various buildings re-creating Shaker craft or explaining the life-style of the community. The day we visited Jack was at the Broom Shop making a broom.

Here is Jack explaining the craft of making the broom. What is it that makes a Shaker broom unique, beyond is wonderful craftsmanship? The fuzzies. At the bottom of the broom, the tips of the broom corn are not trimmed. The tips have a fuzzy texture and that is why a Shaker broom really sweeps cleans, leaving not a trace of dirt behind!
Brooms are hung on wooden pegs that also made by the Shakers. We were told, " the broom should only touch the ground when in use!"

Broom Corn
Before we left the Broom Shop, Jack urged us to visit the garden to see where the broom corn used to create these brooms, is grown .
We found the broom corn . The garden also contains vegetables and a large variety of herbs, some that were unfamiliar to us.

A view of the garden to the garden barn and shed (1828). Here the herbs were dried and packaged for culinary and medicinal use. These herbal products were used in the village and also sold to the public. Seeds saved from the garden were also packaged in beautiful packets printed in the print shop and sold through a catalogue. The Shakers were industrious !
The garden supplied the community with food as well created income to support the village.

Up until 1870 the garden only served functional needs. It was just about this time that decorative gardens were first planted here. A new twist in Shaker gardening.........gardens for ornamentation!

On our way out of the village, a lone figure in a barn, sweeping.
On this visit to Canterbury Shaker Village we had family visiting. We thought this a good place to get a look at a piece of New Hampshire history.

Before we left the village we stopped at the Museum Shop.
Jack had just delivered the broom we watched him create. We bought the broom. Then we remembered that it must be hung when not in use. We bought a wooden peg board.
The broom hangs proudly on a peg in the mud room, like a piece of art. Yes, we do take down from the peg and sweep with if often.
It is the best broom we have ever owned!

Canterbury Shaker Village
288 Shaker Rd., Canterbury, NH

Upcoming events:

November 13, 2010
Shaker Thanksgiving
A benefit: Thanksgiving meal served in the historic Dwelling house.
(call for details and reservations)

November 26-28
Gift In Hand
a three day event , shop for handcrafted items, food & wreaths

For additional information schedules, tours, events and tickets go to the website.

Greenwood's Restaurant ( at Shaker Village)
open for lunch

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