If you’ve never made the trip to Canterbury Shaker Village, you’re missing out.
Many New Hampshire children visit the 200-plus year old property during school field trips, but we also learned that it’s quite the educational experience for adults as well.
When you arrive, you need to head into the visitors center to pay your admission ($19 for adults, $9 for children ages 6 to 17 and free for children 5 and under) and where staff will give you a little info about what there is to do and see.
You can take a 75-minute guided Shaker Story Tour at 11 a.m., 1 or 3 p.m. daily, which will introduce you to the Shakers’ daily practices of worship and work, and the ways in which the Shakers impacted mainstream American culture. It brings you to the meeting house, the laundry (only open to guided tours), and the Dwelling House Chapel. Much of the tour is outdoors and includes all kinds of great information from people who really know what the Shakers were all about.
“The community was always evolving,” said Becky Soules, daily visitor and youth programs manager. “And the tour is a good way to get your introduction to Shaker history.”
There are also a couple special tours that happen a few times a month.
If you happen to show up during either before or after a tour begins, and have some time to kill, you are free to wander around the grounds and explore for yourself.
There are 694 acres that includes 29 buildings, 25 that were built by the Shakers and half of which are open to the public.
“A lot of them are self-guided that people can go and visit at their leisure,” Soules said.
And depending on what day you happen to make your way to Canterbury Shaker Village, you will likely find a few of the many volunteers demonstrating a skill once used by the Shakers.
“They were pretty quick to get in and out of an industry,” Soules said.
During our visit, we came across Joe Rogers, who has been making brooms on Tuesdays for the last 20 years. It takes about two hours to make one broom. They are then sold in the gift store. Rogers even showed us one he made his first year that is still going strong.
There was also Ron Herman, who for 13 years has been making his way to the village once a week to show off his oval making box skills.
And finally, we met the husband and wife duo of Carol and Dan Lachance. Carol is a rug hooker, which didn’t happen at this Shaker community, but is a pretty neat craft nonetheless.
Dan is a weaver, using a loom to create his masterpieces. We got to try both rug hooking and weaving, so there can be an interactive component to the demonstrations as well.
“Our goal is for everyone to have a very personal connection during their visit,” Soules said.
There are also demonstrators who show off their skills in letter press, chair taping, rug braiding and more.
There’s a large garden behind the last set of buildings that visitors can wander around and enjoy, as well as an extensive network of nature trails.
With so much space and buildings to explore, Canterbury Shaker Village can accommodate lots of people.
“We can have 100 visitors and not even notice them,” Soules said.
The exhibition center has lots of great artifacts that show what industries the Shakers were involved with over the years and pieces that cannot be found anywhere else.
“A very high percentage of our collection never left the village,” Soules said.
Did you know the village was established in 1792 and remained in use for 200 years? What about the fact it had electricity in 1910?
“Which was before the State House had electricity,” Soules said.
Canterbury Shaker Village is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 27 and weekends between Halloween and Christmas.
“If you get here at 10 and left at 5, you could probably see it all,” Soules said.
For more information, visit shakers.org.