Mary Ann Clouting was born in Little Glernham in Suffolk in 1827, her father being a farmer. She was married at the age of 20 to a seaman George Stanton Girling and they had ten children although eight died in infancy.

Mrs. Mary Girling was rejected by the Methodists, so she set up a new religious sect known as the "Children of God " and left Suffolk to go to south London with her followers. 
In 1872, she moved with her disciples to Forest Lodge, Vaggs Lane, Hordle. Mother Girling, as she was called, was tall for a women, she had bright piercing eyes and a  pleasant voice. She dressed in a coarse white smock over a pair of white trousers with a frill around the bottom. Mother Girling wore a white bonnet, tied with a bow and carried a muff.                          

In their ecstasy, they often danced, so gaining the name the "SHAKERS". All her followers were under Mother Girling's rule rather than that of their parents. They were all called her sons and daughters, even though some were older than she. The 1881 census records that Mary Ann Girling with sixty-three of her followers, mainly from Suffolk and London, were living in Vaggs Lane, Hordle. According to the census they "Preferred to Live by Faith" which pleased the people they worked for on the land as they did not wish to be paid, but was not popular with anyone who supplied them with food. When they were ejected from Forest Lodge in a blizzard, for not paying any rent, the Hon. Auberon Herbert gave them shelter in a barn for four or five weeks at his home Ashley-Arnewood. 

Mother Girling was fifty-nine when she died 18th.September 1886. At her funeral her disciples were dressed in white. A plaque on the side of All Saints Church records the fact that she is buried there. Twelve of her followers are also buried in unmarked graves.


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