In 1876 in the parish of Old Alresford Winchester, Mary Sumner, the Rector’s wife, began the Mothers’ Union movement after the birth of her first grandchild. She wanted to bring mothers together to provide practical support for one another and to encourage Christian family life through prayer and faith in action. Queen Victoria became patron in 1897, her Diamond Jubilee year, and by the turn of the century membership had risen to 170,000 worldwide.
On the 16 October 1904 the Reverend Ottley recorded in the Register of Services ledger ‘a meeting at school for starting a Mothers’ Union Branch’. On the following day at 3pm he held a service ‘connected with the Mothers’ Union.’ This is the first mention found of an official Stockcross Branch although there is mention in the accounts of mothers’ meetings as far back as 1893.
Official archives go back to 1910 and confirm that a St John’s branch existed then, the enrolling member being Mrs Thoyt. Their final record is the annual report submitted to head office in 1958 when the secretary was Mrs Gibb. The photograph is from the 1950s.
We know from records found in the Church that the St John’s branch continued until the 1970s with Mrs Tucker as enrolling member.
Mothers’ Union Notes and Reports Book from 1965
For thirteen years Mrs Gibbs had been enrolling member but in 1965 she resigned and Mrs Tucker took on the job. Her records of meetings and outings show that the branch was active throughout the late 60s and early 70s.
June 10 1970 it notes that ‘the Vicar asked us into the Rectory to arrange a rota for the Church cleaning now being done by the Mothers’ Union members; I must say the church is beautifully kept’
However one entry might hint as to why the branch eventually closed.
May 9 1971 ‘…we enjoyed a lovely Communal Service it is something we look forward to each year but sad to say we are all getting older & some of our members are not able to go now’
From 1973 ill health prevented Mrs Tucker from attending PCC meetings although she continued to run the Mothers’ Union with the help of a committee.
The last entry in her book is from 1974.
SASHA has transcribed the Mothers Union Branch Register. Click on the text below to view.
The Mothers’ Union Banner
At a meeting of the PCC on October 17 1951 the Mothers’ Union was given permission to place their banner in the corner of the north transept wall.
The banner was received in December 1951 as recorded in the Annual Vestry Meeting Minutes on 22 April 1952.
A record of Banner Bearers can be found at the back of the Mothers Union Notes and Report Book.
1952 Mrs James 1962 Mrs Jones
1953 Mrs James 1963 Mrs Woods
1954 Mrs Pearce 1964 Mrs Halls
1955 Mrs Spence 1965 Mrs Roussel
1956 Mrs Chandler 1966 Mrs Halsey
1957 Mrs Pengelly 1967 Mrs Wiltshire
1958 Mrs Tucker 1968 No one confirmation in church
1959 Mrs Hine 1969 Mrs Tucker at St Nicolas
1960 Mrs Rutterford 1970 Mrs Spence at Hungerford
1961 Mrs H Bevan 1971 Mrs Spence at Thatcham
The banner was carried at important services or events such as the annual Deanery Festival Service in May. Another service marked by all Mothers’ Union groups falls on 25th March and is known either as the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary or ‘Lady Day’.