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Story behind Mothering Sunday retold
8:13am Sun Mar 30, 2014
 
The story of a Coddington woman credited with reintroducing Mothering Sunday celebrations to Britain, as told by her niece, has been revealed by a Newark historian.
CONSTANCE PENSWICK SMITH
CONSTANCE PENSWICK SMITH
Constance Penswick Smith, who was born in 1878 and died in 1938, lived in Coddington when she was young and was buried at All Saints’ Church alongside members of her family.

Her father, the Rev Charles Penswick Smith, was the Vicar of Coddington.

Constance Penswick Smith began a movement to revive the church festival of Mothering Sunday, which was no longer widely celebrated, and designed cards and orders of service to be used to mark the occasion.

Her story was written down by her niece Miss Brenda Smith, who lived in Southwell, and passed to historian Mr Tim Warner.

Miss Smith’s account describes her aunt’s childhood and her memories of her.

It said: “In 1907 Constance began, in her spare time, to find out all she could about the ancient custom of Mothering Sunday.

“It was about this time that America began to observe Mother’s Day, a festival held in early May simply in praise of earthly mothers.

“Constance had by now discovered that during the Middles Ages there had been an ancient church festival which was widely observed by the Church of England on the fourth Sunday in Lent when people gave thanks for the mother church and also for all mothers of families.

“She felt it would be much better to introduce this in England rather than to allow the American idea to spread to this country.”

Miss Smith said in her account that her aunt’s most treasured possession was a letter from Queen Mary expressing her interest in the revival of the traditional and wishing the movement behind it well.

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