The years were filled with anxiety and labour. There was the sending out of the first missionary to the foreign field, and one after another died in attempting to penetrate the Dark Continent. Mrs. Grattan Guinness's work was unremitting. One of her children writes: "My childish conception of mothers in general was inseparably linked with the thought of correspondence and pressing literary work. It appeared to me natural and proper that people should go to bed at night-time - all people, children, nurses, governess, servants, men, and women - but that mothers should stay up, and start about half-past ten their hardest writing. I believed with a perfect faith that all mothers did this, that they worked on till one or two a.m., and came down to breakfast at eight o'clock next morning as regularly as the sun went round the earth."
Dr. and Mrs. Grattan Guinness resigned the active directorship of the mission in 1887, when their eldest son, Dr. Harry Guinness, and his wife took their respective places. They left London to make their home at Cliff College, Derbyshire, for some years a training college for the mission.
We have already referred to Doric Lodge School for the training of lady missionaries and deaconesses. The work is now carried on at Harley House, which is in charge of Miss Morris, a returned missionary. There the deaconesses live. They receive from one to three years' training, and engage in work amongst the poor of the district.
Another development of the women's branch of the organisation was the foundation of Bromley Hall for the training of ladies in obstetrical nursing, a branch of knowledge equally useful to those working in the poor districts of London or in the foreign field.
Bromley Hall is one of the training institutions recognised by the Central Mid wives Board, and there has not been a single failure amongst its students for the diploma of the Board. The average number of cases attended each year in the district is 325, and these are divided between the twelve students who during that period pass through their course of training.
Bromley Hall is a fine old mansion built long ago when King James had his hunting-lodge near by and Bow was a sequestered spot. The first superintendent was Miss Alice Smith, the daughter of a well-known Baptist minister, who relinquished the post to go out to Argentina and consecrated her life to the establishment of a similar training home in Buenos Ayres. She was succeeded by the present superintendent, Mrs. Newell, the widow of the Rev. William Newell, who gave his life in pioneer missionary work in Peru. Nurses and mothers all love Mrs. Newell, and she makes of Bromley Hall a delightful home. Pleasant garden parties for mothers and infants are held there in summer. With regard to the popularity of the students at Bromley Hall, Mrs. Newell tells the story that one poor mother used to say to her neighbours "if you are in trouble go to them 'eternity' nurses, and they'll help you."
The Mission Church of the Union
Berger Hall, the mission church of the union, has a number of devoted women workers in connection with its medical mission, soup kitchen, food depots, clubs, and Bible classes. Sister Mildred conducts the Women's Own, in connection with which is a creche for children who cannot be left at home. There are night-schools for factory and workroom girls. The Sunday-school numbers about 1,600. There is also a drift school, where the roughest and most ragged children are gathered.
Homes for the children of missionaries, conducted by Mrs. Harry Guinness, is a branch of the mission which appeals very specially to women. The brave women who accompany their husbands to those distant fields of labour find it impossible to rear their children in those unhealthy climes. When the "missionary" babies are a year or so old they have to be sent home, and in many cases it was difficult to find friends or relatives to take charge of them. In 1895 Mrs. Guinness opened a home for children of Addington Road, Bow, where the children in missionaries were received at a very moderate fee. Four little ones from the Congo were the first arrivals. This beautiful, motherly work, started by Mrs. Guinness and largely financed by her in its early stages, has greatly developed. Some fifty children have now been cared for and educated.
There are now two homes - one for the elder boys and girls at Eagle Lodge, close to Harley House, presided over by Miss Bruce, a trained nurse; and one for the babies and little ones at Wanstead, near to Epping Forest, which is mothered by Sister May, also a trained nurse.
The elder children are sent to excellent schools near to their home - the girls to the Coborn School and the boys to a school belonging to the Coopers' Company. The eldest girl at Eagle Lodge won a County Council Scholarship, and having completed her college training, has received a good appointment as teacher.
One can imagine the load of care and anxiety it lifts from the hearts of the missionaries to know that the children with whom they have been forced to part are so tenderly cared for, trained, and educated. The boys and girls are reared in the traditions of the work to which their parents have devoted their lives, and many will doubtless themselves go forth to labour in the mission field
History Repeats Itself
The acting director of the entire organisation is Dr. Harry Guinness, the son of the founders, who was brought up from childhood to regard the mission as the noblest work to which he could devote his life and talents. He was trained as a medical missionary, and spent some time on the Congo. In 1887 he took over the directorship in London from his father. Again history repeated itself, and he, like his father, found a devoted helpmate and co-worker in his wife, who undertook the duties of hon. secretary to the mission in succession to her mother-in-law.
Mrs. Harry Guinness was Miss Annie Reed, the daughter of the late Henry Reed, Esq., well-known for his magnificent philanthropy and fearless proclamation of the Gospel in Tasmania and in the Old Country. His widow has. lived to a great age and maintained the traditions. She rejoiced to give her young daughter to mission work. The marriage of Miss Annie Reed to Dr. Harry Guinness took place in 1887. They have a family of nine children, the eldest of whom, Miss Geraldine, is now engaged in mission work in Peru. She has inherited the literary faculty of the family and is the author of "Peru, its Story, People, and Religion." Mrs. Harry Guinness is gifted with great commonsense and mental balance, and her advice is sought in many directions. The women workers of the mission have in her a wise counsellor and sympathetic friend.
The Regions Beyond Mission Union was incorporated under its present name in 1903. It is supported by voluntary contributions. The Helpers' Union promotes the financial side of the work. The central office is the old headquarters, Harley House, 51, Bow Road, E., and the secretary is the Rev. W. Wilkes, a returned missionary from the Congo.