THERE are two opportunities coming up to find out more about Quakers in Skipton.

On Wednesday October 2 at 7pm there will be an illustrated lecture at the Meeting House given by Laurel Phillipson entitled Roots of Radicalism, Antecedents of Quakerism in the Yorkshire Dales.

And on Saturday October 5 the Meeting House is open for a quiet day from 10.30am to 4pm. Everyone is welcome to come through the gate, enjoy the oasis of peace that is the group's garden and share refreshments and conversation with Skipton Quakers.

A spokesman said: "Many people associate Quakers either with a brand of porridge oats or with chocolate. It is true that Cadburys, Frys and Rowntrees were originally Quaker-run businesses but Quaker Oats has nothing to do with Quakers!

"The Quaker name and the Quaker Oats Man on all the packaging were used first in the US in the 19th century as a symbol of good quality and honest value.

"The Quaker Oats Man is probably derived from an engraving of a picture of the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, making a treaty with a Native American tribe, an artwork that was painted more than 80 years after the event!

"Quakers is the nickname adopted by members of the Religious Society of Friends after a justice in Derby used it as a joke over 350 years ago.

"Quakers believe that all people are equal and are able to understand spiritual and moral truths for themselves without the need for priests or sacraments.

"There have been Quakers in and around Skipton – in Carleton, Bradley, Airton and Rylstone – since the 1650s; indeed three of the earliest national meetings of Quakers in the country were held around Skipton, probably at Scale House near Rylstone."

The Quaker Meeting House, in the Ginnel off Newmarket Street, built in 1693, is the oldest place of worship in the town except for the parish church.

The first house on the south side of Newmarket Street (now the Sense charity shop and C&H Browns) was used for Quaker meetings before that and for much of the 18th century was a Quaker school.

Initials of boys at the school are still to be found carved into the woodwork of the Meeting House.