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Author Topic: Shake, Rattle and Roll - the Shakers in the New Forest  (Read 635 times)
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« Reply #30 on: May 14, 2017, 13:29:54 PM »

Reading Mercury - Saturday 25 September 1886

Mrs. Girling, the "Mother" of the Shaker community died on Saturday morning at the Shaker Encampment, at Hordle, a parish about 4 miles from Lymington, in Hampshire, after a painful illness of several months' duration.

The death of Mrs. Girling, says the Times, has brought to a close a sad and peculiar history. It is nearly 14 years ago since this singular body of religionists styling themselves the "children of God" took up their residence on the borders of the New Forest, at Hordle, near Lymington. Troubles soon came upon them. Within 18 months they were evicted, and the story of their privations on the roadside during the severe winter weather is not yet forgotten. After obtaining a residence in a field opposite and erecting a few sheds, the sheriff's officer visited them and, with their goods, they were turned once more into the road. In all these privations their faith in the "Mother" did not appear to once waver. The present encampment has been the residence of the community for the past seven years, and as nothing has occurred to them since of any public importance they have become somewhat obscure except to excursionists visiting the place.

The cold and exposure, however, were not without effect, as about a year since Mrs. Girling fell ill from cancer induced by cold. She gradually grew weaker, and when unable to move from her tent the services of a neighbouring physician were called in, and her "children" were most attentive nurses. Mrs. Girling throughout all this time did not lose faith in what she had always preached so zealously and earnestly, and believed that she would never die but would live until the second coming of Christ. She gradually sank, and at 7 o'clock on Saturday morning passed peacefully away, surrounded by the whole of the members, whose grief it is impossible to describe. Mrs. Girling had been in a semi-conscious state all day on Friday, but in the evening she recognised her son's voice and tried to speak to him but failed.

Questioned as to what result was likely to ensue from the decease of Mrs. Girling, one of the brethren on Saturday said they would have to break up and start life afresh, which would be a difficult matter, as most of them were old people, and they owed far more than their things would fetch, and their money was all gone. He further said that as far as the experiment was tried it had failed.

The community is reduced to twenty, of whom seven are men and the rest women. The youngest person is 19 years old, There are three at 30 years, and the rest are middle aged and old. They are in great poverty and in need of assistance. The grounds are about 2ΒΌ acres in extent. The garden occupies about two acres, and the tents and various offices fill the remainder. The tents, though slight, are fairly well built, and the interiors are clean and well kept. During the last ten weeks of Mrs. Girling's last illness the services of public worship had been discontinued in the camp. Mrs. Girling's age was 60 years, and her husband is living at Ipswich.

The funeral of Mrs. Girling took place on Thursday morning at Hordle Churchyard. At the Shakers' tent the coffin was laid upon a little chaise in which Mrs. Girling had often visited Lymington, drawn by an old pony. The coffin was covered with a pall, and surmounted with a wreath of white flowers and ferns. An old man, a gardener, led the pony at a slow walking pace. The brethren and sisters came behind, two by two - the men wearing mourning, but the sisters were dressed in white, and carried small bouquets of ferns and white flowers. The chief mourner was Mrs. Girling's son. As they left the tents six or seven villagers came into the line, and as it passed the cottages on the roadside many other persons joined.

At 11 o'clock the procession reached the church, where the Rev. Mr. Fisher and the Rev. Travers Garrick were in waiting. Many people were assembled in the churchyard, and the church was filled with spectators, every seat being occupied. The shaker mourners were much affected, but there was no noise or extravagance of any kind. At the close of the service, when there were between four and five hundred people about the grave, the members of the community went quietly and dejectedly away, and spent the remainder of the day in their tents.

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