THE historic Swarthmoor Hall has had many anniversaries to celebrate since it was built in 1586 and gradually became the world centre for the Society of Friends, or Quakers.

From 1632 the country house on the outskirts of Ulverston was the home of Judge Thomas Fell and his wife Margaret Askew.

She offered hospitality to traveling preachers, including George Fox in 1652 – founder of the Quaker movement.

Judge Fell died in 1658 and the hall became a centre of growing Quaker Activity.

On January 13 in 1991 the hall was a base to commemorate 300 years since the death of George Fox, the son of a Leicestershire weaver who travelled and preached around the world - when he wasn't being jailed for his beliefs.

The Friends of Swarthmoor Hall marked the anniversary by dressing in the plain clothing seen in the early days of the religious movement.

In October 1993 an international appeal was launched by the Society of Friends to establish a retreat centre on the site of a barn which had been demolished in 1964.

There were plans for a dozen study-bedrooms and a dining room and kitchen.

Warden Steve Deeming said: "Our executive committee in London, known as the Meeting of Suffering, has said it wants to find a way of allowing the hall to become once again a powerhouse of Quakerism as it was in the 17th century."

The appeal included the launch of a new walking guide by Constance Ainsworth, called Travelling Friends.

It retraced the steps of George Fox on routes through Conishead, Aldingham, Dendron, Walney and Urswick.

When the preacher visited Walney in 1652 he was met with violence by 40 men armed with staffs, clubs, stones and fishing poles.

They cried: "Kill him, kill him."

August 1997 saw archaeologists at work at Swarthmoor Hall before the builders moved in.

May 2000 saw the completion of the major restoration of the hall and the official opening of Fell Barn as the result of a £680,000 project – which had been boosted by a £100,000 anonymous donation.

In March 2002 there was a Children's costume workshop at Swarthmoor Hall to help mark the 350th anniversary of the first visit of George Fox.