Nicholas Ferrar (1592 – 1637) was an English scholar, courtier, businessman and man of religion. In 1626 Nicholas Ferrar and his extended family left London and moved to the deserted village of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire. They bought the manor of Little Gidding and restored the abandoned little church for their use. The household always had someone at prayer and had a strict routine. They tended to the health and education of local children.
To instruct the younger members of the extended family in the gospel story and to develop their manual dexterity, Nicholas devised a Harmony of the four gospels. This Harmony provided the narrative for the hourly gospel readings. To create it, individual lines were cut from the four gospel narratives and pasted together on the page to make one continuous text. The pages were also illustrated with engravings. Many of the family learned the art of bookbinding. Nicholas Ferrar died in 1637, but the family continued their way of life without him, and the religious life only ended in 1657 on the deaths, within a month, of his siblings.
The life of the Ferrar household was much criticised by Puritans, and their life attacked as a ‘Protestant Nunnery’. However, the Ferrars never lived a formal religious life: there was no Rule, vows were not taken, and there was no enclosure. In this sense there was no ‘community’ at Little Gidding, but rather a family living a Christian life in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer according to High Church principles.
The fame of the Ferrar household was widespread, and they attracted many visitors. Among them was King Charles I.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the life and witness of Nicholas Ferrar and his family. We humbly beseech You to undergird the families in the Church of England with the spirtual discpllines of prayer, Bible study, and almsgiving. Replicate family models of sanctifying time that produce a harmony with the life of Your Son Jesus. Amen.
References: Wikipedia, littlegiddingchurch.org.uk