The Mothers’ Union at St Mark’s Church
Due to dwindling numbers and members unable to serve on Committee or as Leader, sadly the Highcliffe Branch of the Mothers’ Union closed in July 2019. There was a branch here in Highcliffe in 1926 though we do not know how long it existed. As far as records show the current branch came into existence in the mid 1950s when there was an influx of members moving into the new housing developments. Members came from the Isle of Wight, St Albans, Bradford (a member since 1932), Devizes, Eltham, Eastbourne, Harpenden, Harrow, and Southbourne, reflecting the typical make up of Highcliffe folk, The first meeting is recorded as 17th September 1955, Mrs Boot,( from Eltham) was the Enrolling Member, with officers Mrs Chandler from Devises and Mrs Nicholson from Harpenden. By the end of September Mrs Ellis was co-opted onto the committee, her daughter Joy Snell is still a member with the Ringwood Branch. It seemed a regular occurrence to join with members from the Hinton Branch and the Young Wives. To date, I have not been able to find any records of a branch at Hinton.
Although there is a reference to a banner during the life of the earlier branch, 1957 saw the beginning of the current Banner. There is no actual correspondence but reference is made that on 18th January a letter was sent to Miss Spittle placing an order for her to make a banner for £40. Subsequent fundraising took place and the fund reached the sum of £34.4s.11d. several letters were sent, including one in January 1958 regarding cords and tassels for the banner. Our banner was dedicated at a service in Church on 20th March 1958.
In 1961 we dusted the church. During this time Mother’s Union was responsible for decorating the Pulpit for Festivals with a reminder that this was the oldest piece of carving in church, special care should be taken – NO Nails please.
I always enjoy the details given in old records; on 21st January 1982 members braved the “Arctic” conditions outside to attend the meeting. (I remember this time well as my Son John was born on 12th January 1982 and there was some doubt as to whether I would be able to get to the hospital - I did and over the next 10 days watched the snow melt on Old Winchester Hill).
Membership is still available in its many forms and some ladies from the branch have taken up Diocesan Membership. Further details of our work can be found on www.muwinchester.org.uk and www.mothersunion.org
Christine Clode, Archivist, Mothers’ Union Winchester Diocese
The Mothers’ Union is an international Christian charity that seeks to support families worldwide. In over 80 countries our members share one heartfelt vision - to bring about a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. This is not a vague hope, but a goal we actively pursue through prayer, programmes, policy work and community relationships.
By supporting marriage and family life, especially through times of adversity, we tackle the most urgent needs challenging relationships and communities. Our members are not all mothers, or even all women. Single, married, parents, grandparents, or young adults just beginning to express their social conscience. For over 4 million members the Mothers’ Union provides a network through which they can serve Christ in their own community - through prayer, financial support and actively working at the grassroots level in programmes that meet local needs. We lobby local and national governments on issues affecting family life and campaign to challenge legislation that neglects the vulnerable and marginalised. We are also represented at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Members of the Mothers’ Union in the Winchester Diocese work individually and corporately to make the life of either one, or many families, just a little bit better. We:-
* give families in crisis and difficulty the chance of a holiday through our “Away From It All” Family Holiday scheme;
* support prisoners and the work of chaplaincies in the prison in our region;
* work as individuals and small groups in many parishes running or supporting children’s groups, parenting groups, marriage and baptism preparation, child contact centres, women’s refuges;
* seek to educate ourselves and others about things that impact on contemporary family life: media, drugs, relationships, the social policy of our government and the UN.
* prayerfully, and where possible, practically help Mothers’ Union supporters and workers in our international links and projects;
* meet for fellowship, prayer and to keep informed about latest developments in all these areas of our work, knowing that through our work, people can experience the love of Christ, and have the opportunity to discover or develop a personal relationship with God.
We ask for prayers for our members as they reluctantly move on to other branches to continue the work of the Mothers’ Union.