house1864A pacifist community called locally "les Couflaïres" (the inspired ones) existed from early in the 17th century in Congénies and villages nearby. They raised sheep and silkworms and made woolen and silk stockings in the Vaunage, a sunny and fertile valley between Nîmes and Montepellier, which they called "little Canaan". Protestants made up the majority of the population in this region and the « couflaïres » were a community apart.

During the American revolution of 1775-1783 the British monarchy encouraged British ships to attack any French vessels they could find because France was supporting the colonists. One British Quaker, Joseph Fox (no relation to George Fox) co-owned three ships and unbeknownst to him his co-owners were gainfully attacking and raiding French ships on the Atlantic.

Wgravehen he realised this state of affairs, Fox was appalled and in 1785 he took out a paid advertisement in the Gazette de France in which he categorically stated that Quakers did not indulge in piracy. He detailed the faith and practice of the Religious Society of Friends and offered to compensate all victims of his three ships, inviting people to write to him to state their claims.
The Gazette de France was read in Congénies, and five of the "couflaïres" wrote a letter to Fox explaining that they were not claiming any booty but they were impressed by Quakers ideas, which they fully shared, and would like to meet him. They sent Jean de Marsillac to visit Friends in London and in 1788 founded the first Quaker meeting in France.

The Meeting House was built in 1822 with the help of funds supplied by both American and English Friends. The Meeting, which through the 19th century numbered some 200 large families over a wide area, died out following emigration of the pacifist young men to avoid compulsory military service. The young Quaker women left behind married protestants and were absorbed into that community.

houseThe last Meeting for Worship held in 1905, the Meeting house was sold in 1907. It served a wide variety of purposes during the early 20th century before it was renamed Villa Quaker and converted into a private residence by Quakers who retired from the British Consulate in Marseille. Having been sold on twice, each time to Quakers, it was bought by France Yearly Meeting in 2003. The Maison Quaker reopened its doors in 2004 for meetings for worship, retreats, workshops and discussion groups.


Maison Quaker
11 avenue des Quakers
30111 Congénies


+33 (0)4 66 71 46 41 or
(0)6 52 24 70 82 (mob)
English spoken

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