Canterbury Shaker Village Offers “Extraordinary” History

While Ethel Hudson, the last sister in residence at Canterbury Shaker Village, passed away in 1992, the Shaker legacy may never be more relevant than it is today. “The Shakers were able to rise above the times and live out a loftier vision of what America can be,” said Education Manager Kyle Sandler. “We can take many lessons from them, as they grappled with a lot of the same issues we face now.”

He said one of these issues is particularly relevant today. “The Shakers believed in gender equity,” he explained. “There were men who probably did not want to follow women in the 1820s, for example, but they found a way to work out their differences.”

Education Manager Kyle Sandler
Education Manager Kyle Sandler

Their collective belief in gender equity represented one of many core values, some of which included racial equity, pacifism, simplicity, and sustainability. Canterbury Shaker Village was established in 1792 by followers of Mother Ann Lee. At its height in the 1850s, 300 people lived, worked, and worshiped in and among more than 100 buildings laid out in a practical, functional grid.

For Sandler, what is particularly interesting about the Shakers is how they took their then radical beliefs and created a new way of living. This world extended beyond religion to include innovative approaches to technology, education, music, art, agriculture, animal husbandry, interior design, furniture, and architecture.

“There is something of interest here for everybody,” said Sandler. “The Shakers took the ordinary in everyday life and made it extraordinary.”

About Canterbury Shaker Village

Featuring 694 acres of forests, fields, gardens, nature trails, and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement, the Village is designated as a National Historic Landmark with 25 restored original Shaker buildings and 4 reconstructed Shaker buildings. In addition to tours, exhibits, and programs, Canterbury Shaker Village provides wonderful, relaxing, and beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces for weddings

Canterbury Shaker Village is a member of the NH Heritage Museum Trail, which connects the public with culturally rich heritage institutions in New Hampshire. For more information about The Trail, visit