The Quakers, sometimes now referred to as The Religious Society of Friends, were formed in the mid-1600s by a group of like-minded individuals dissatisfied with the formality and rules of the established religion.
Many of the early Quakers were powerful preachers meaning that the number of followers grew as they travelled around the country. These gatherings were often interrupted and those who spoke out for Quakerism were persecuted, facing beatings and repeated imprisonment.
Quaker groups were not allowed to meet freely until after the 1689 Act of Toleration but they continued to face some limitations such as not being able to sit in Parliament.
As the group continued to grow they began organising themselves into different regional and national Meetings, gathering together for quiet contemplation in their Meeting Houses.
This 'meetings' system continues to operate today with an estimated 25,000 worshipers in the UK.