Mary Sumner – Founder Of Mother’s Union: a talk by Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful

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Saturday 15 September
Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 8SB

In the footsteps of Mary Sumner founder of the Mothers Union. This talk maps Mary Sumner’s activism against geographical locations in her life. It explores her Shropshire childhood, early married life at Farnham Castle, parochial philanthropy at Old Alresford and a visit to the holy land, to place Mary’s ideas on motherhood, marriage and the education of children in relation to contemporary issues in religion, society and education. The talk also locates Mary Sumner amongst her network of influential kin and friends, amongst whom were the Bishop of Winchester and the novelist Charlotte Yonge, with a view to identifying how her activism was shaped and realised.

This talk has been organised by Wire Wool Events especially for Winchester Heritage Open Days.

Mary Sumner (1828-1921) is remembered as the founder of the Mothers’ Union, a vibrant contemporary Anglican organisation with a worldwide membership of 4 million. The Mothers’ Union celebrates its origins in the 1876 Mothers’ meeting hosted by Mary Sumner in Old Alresford Rectory. Ten years later the Mothers’ Union had been adopted as a Winchester diocesan organisation following the Church Congress at Portsmouth. After this the society grew rapidly nationally and transnationally. By the time of Mary Sumner’s death in 1921 the Mothers’ Union had a membership of nearly 400,000. The esteem in which she was held is indicated by 4,000 mourners who attended her funeral in Winchester Cathedral. This talk will map Mary Sumner’s life, activism and standing in society.

Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful is the author of Mary Sumner, Mission, Education and Motherhood: thinking a life with Bourdieu (Lutterworth 2018). A long term resident of Winchester, she is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winchester, where she teaches history and the pedagogy of history. Sue is a member of the university’s Centre for the History of Women’s Education. Her research focus is on Anglican women’s philanthropic and educational activism in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, in particular the Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly Society. Sue is the editor of the Sybil Campbell Collection newsletter and a joint editor of History of Education Researcher.

This event is part of the Heritage Open Days, for more information about Heritage Open Days and other events, visit:


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