Whether you come to connect with nature, history, or art, it is time you to come experience Canterbury Shaker Village for yourself.
Visiting Canterbury Shaker Village is something like stepping onto a movie set of a Netflix period drama. This historic village is completely intact, encapsulating a past spiritual way of life and universal meditation on New England living. It is a full immersion into the #cottagecore we search for, like and emulate on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. The Village is a testament to New England culture in a way — the architecture we still mirror in modern construction, the furniture and decorations in our homes — all originating in the prolific lives, industry, and inventions of the Shakers at Canterbury.
Today, the Village stands far beyond its recognition as a National Historic Landmark, with its collection of 30 historic buildings set before 700 acres of beautiful natural vistas to provide an authentic and unexpected connection with nature, art, entrepreneurship, and reflection and renewal.
A Must Visit – Especially Now
You can find Canterbury Shaker Village (CSV) 20 minutes just outside of Concord. Whether you visit for a cool historical walking tour, a hike in the woods, running a scenic 5k or one of the numerous events held there, CSV offers much to a diversity of interests. CSV has long been a popular wedding venue, and is also the backdrop for concerts, culture, and crafts in New Hampshire – drawing Boston and NYC-based dance companies and musicians to perform alongside poets and artist laureates in the area. And for artists and makers, and those of us who appreciate them, the Artisan Market (September 25), and the ongoing Artist–in–Residency program takes on an otherworldly aura with the Village as a backdrop.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the outdoor spaces at CSV have been a respite from the anxieties of our daily lives. Plan your own escape with this sneak peek into upcoming performances in CSV’s Music on the Meeting House Green series this summer. Performers include the return of Boston-based Lorraine Chapman Dance Company, indie rock band River Sister, and fun for the whole family with Bees Parks and the Hornets. Amazing cellists, Jan Fuller and Harel Gietheim, will also be returning by popular demand. Performances are free, with a suggested donation of $10.00, every Sunday, beginning June 20 at 4:00pm. Escape the ordinary and attend these great Sunday concerts!
A Family Affair
Visits to CSV were a big part of my childhood in the Concord area. As a Girl Scout, I worked on the requirements for my patches here. With my family CSV was part of every season; from hiking the grounds, Christmas celebrations at the Village, to the craft fairs and demonstrations that dotted the summers and early autumn. Did you share similar experiences? Well, it is all still here and more, all waiting for your family. Whether it is through a school trip, scouts, enrollment at the onsite nature-based preschool the Dewey School, or performances hosted onsite, there is an adventure waiting at CSV for your family.
Steeped in History
Did you know the Shakers were the subject of the second documentary Ken Burns ever made? What would compel a now famous documentarian to start his career studying a collection of old buildings on a hill a few miles outside of Concord? As Burns tell it,
I decided that my second film should explore something different about our nation’s past: something not only with a different setting, but something that touched on the deep, spiritual currents that run throughout American history and are often neglected in our rush to focus only on wars and generals and presidents.”
That’s right. Canterbury Shaker Village is home to one of the most enduring religious experiments in American history. This sect of Christianity believed in pacifism, natural health and hygiene, and though they also practiced celibacy as a community, they survived for more than 200 years and sustained settlements from Maine to Kentucky.
Why are they called Shakers? Well, their ecstatic dancing, of course! They also strove for simplicity and perfection in everything they did, building a legacy of fine furniture, serene architecture and beautiful music and dance. There is so much to learn, glean and connect to in the Shaker’s legacy.
What is wild is that the last of the Canterbury Shakers lived up until the 1990’s – maybe you (or your parents) remember meeting the Sisters in a school visit or event. It’s a past that is not quite so distant.
A Community Asset
The evolution of the Village has been amazing. It continues to find new connections with the modern world. Though the Shakers themselves have passed away, their vision for the Village continues to thrive. Today the sloped fields are rented to local cattle farmers for grazing, the gardens are utilized in a growing partnership with local grocery stores, and sap from some of the oldest sugar maples in New England are tapped and bottled for local sale.
Discover Central NH
Canterbury Shaker Village is just the beginning; a visit here can be part of an all-day adventure through Central New Hampshire. The Village is a stone’s throw from incredible local breweries like the unique Canterbury Aleworks and Kettlehead Brewing Company, or head back into the city to visit Concord Craft Brewing. And, the new bourbon distillery, Cold Garden Distillery, just up the road, can’t be missed. Let the modern and old worlds collide with before or after shopping visits to the Tilton Outlets.
New Hampshire author Jodi Picoult said, “Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.” A very true statement for everything New Hampshire. Canterbury Shaker Village exemplifies that sentiment, an extraordinary place lying right in our own backyard. Whether you come to connect with nature, history, or art, it is time you to come experience Canterbury Shaker Village for yourself.
About the Author
Kaeleigh Barker is the Director of Strategy for CCA Global in Manchester. Canterbury Shaker Village is one of her favorite places in the state – in fact, she makes her visits a family affair.