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