The Rev. Deacon Nicholas Ferrar (22 February 1592 – 4 December 1637) was an English scholar, courtier and businessman ordained deacon in the Church of England by Archbishop Laud.
He was a good friend of Anglican priest and poet Rev. George Herbert. Little Gidding was a small Anglican religious community established around the daily office.
About the Little Gidding Community: The home of the community and household of prayer in Huntingdonshire, England, about 18 miles from Cambridge. Ferrar and his mother and some 40 members of his extended family and household retired to this deserted estate in 1625 and dedicated themselves to a life of prayer and Christian ministry.
The mansion house was repaired and the little church, which had been used as a barn, was restored. Ferrar was ordained deacon in 1626. The community lived under a systematic rule of life based on the principles of the Church of England and the Prayer Book. Little Gidding was more a household and family with a shared life of prayer, charity, and work than a monastic community, but it has been seen as an experiment in family monastic living.
Ferrar led the community in the Daily Offices of the church, the daily singing of the entire Psalter, hourly prayer offices throughout the day, and nightly vigils. The local vicar led the community in the celebration of Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month.
The Little Gidding community was quite generous in charity. They visited and helped the poor and sick and operated a dispensary. They also established a small academy for the education of children. Members of the community were involved in writing stories to illustrate themes of Christian faith and morality. The community was also involved in bookbinding and produced illustrated harmonies of the gospels. Ferrar died in 1637. The community continued until 1646 when it was raided by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers and dispersed. “Little Gidding” is the title of the last of the Four Quartets (1935-1942) by the poet T. S. Eliot, who describes a place “Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more/ Than an order of words.”