The renowned Canterbury Shaker Village is in the Center of New Hampshire, easily accessed from Interstate 93. It is dedicated to preserving the 200-year Shaker legacy of entrepreneurship, innovative design, and simple living by providing a place for learning, reflection, and renewal of the human spirit. A National Historic Landmark, the Village includes 25 Shaker buildings and 4 reconstructions, along with 694 acres of forests, fields, gardens, nature trails, and mill ponds under permanent conservation easement.
The Village was the seventh of nineteen Shaker communities established throughout the eastern United States in the late eighteenth century. During Shakerism’s heyday in the mid-nineteenth century, more than 6000 Shaker brothers and sisters lived and worshipped together in celibate, communal villages. Best known for their inspired dancing and singing during worship services, the Shakers were also respected for their quality workmanship. In 1969, the few remaining sisters living at Canterbury Shaker Village established Canterbury Shaker Village, Inc., as a non-profit museum to ensure that the Shaker legacy was preserved for perpetuity. The Village has operated exclusively as a museum since 1992, when the last Shaker sister in residence, Sister Ethel Hudson, passed away and it is one most completely preserved of all the Shaker communities. The Village contains the oldest, intact, first-generation Shaker Meeting House, built in 1792, as well as the only extant eighteenth-century Shaker Dwelling House, built in 1793.
Today, the Village offers visitors a variety of entertaining, educational, and engaging experiences in one of the most picturesque settings in northern New England. Many buildings are open to the public and feature exhibits on topics from foodways to furniture to farming. Guided tours are offered daily by skilled museum interpreters; the Village also offers special in-depth tours on specific subjects.
Historic trades are demonstrated by the Village’s cadre of volunteer artisans in many of the same buildings that the Shakers used as workshops. Demonstrations vary daily and might include oval box making, rug hooking, chair taping, or broom making. There are also a variety of special events during the season from the opening in May to the ‘Ghost Encounters’ at Halloween and “Christmas at Canterbury” during December weekends. Details may be viewed on the website, www.shakers.org.
Canterbury Center Bed and Breakfast, ‘where history meets hospitality’ was built at the same time as Shaker Village was conceived and the three rooms are named for eighteenth century citizens of Canterbury town and also Shaker Village. Evenings are tranquil and breakfasts offer delicious local produce.
Riverland on the Merrimack is also in Canterbury. Combine your visit to the Shaker Village with a stay on 10 acres along side the Merrimack River. Enjoy a stroll, watch some birds or get out in your kayak.
Other members in the Merrimack Region and the Lakes Region also have easy access to Canterbury Shaker Village. All can send you off on your visit with a discount admission coupon – please inquire when you book.