The Mothers’ Union
An embroidered hassock in St. George’s Church shows that the Fovant branch of the Mothers’ Union celebrated its centenary in 1976. This group was affiliated to the church and gave the female members of the congregation the opportunity to meet once a month, which was particularly important in a small village. The aim was to provide a means of social interaction for young mothers, who might be struggling with their childcare duties on a day-to-day basis while their husbands were out at work. A further benefit was the passing on of practical skills such as cookery and sewing from older members to younger members.
Diocesan records show that in 1914 the Fovant branch of the Mothers’ Union contributed to the Missionary Fund and that in 1931 there were forty-three members. In 1927, branch reports list Fovant and Compton Chamberlayne as separate groups, but by 1934 Fovant alone is recorded. It may therefore be during this period that the two branches were amalgamated, because this was certainly the case by the middle of the 20th century. Meetings were held in the Village Hall and started with prayers, reflecting the group’s religious origins. Dr. Clay noted in his account of the history of Fovant that the group marked Coronation Day in 1953 in the following way:
‘Another tablecloth of stout white linen, with the signatures of all its members worked in different colours, was made by the Fovant branch of the Mothers’ Union.’
The Rev. Kenneth Cooper, who became vicar in 1974, later offered the use of the then Rectory, now Old Fovant House on the High Street, as a more welcoming venue. Meetings continued there until Rev. Cooper’s retirement ten years later, after which he was succeeded by an incumbent with no family, who moved to a smaller property. Mrs. Freda Norris therefore hosted the meetings in her home until the group finally disbanded in the mid 1990s, following the retirement of its enrolling member and an increase in the age profile of its members, owing to the reduction in the number of churchgoing young mothers in the village.