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The midwife moves on

The midwife moves on

The Birmingham Post reports that the Anglican sisters behind the hit television series Call the Midwife are selling their historic home.

The hit BBC1 show was inspired by sisters from the Community of St. John the Divine in Alum Rock during their time in London in the 1950s.

It is based on the memoirs of district nurse, Jennifer Worth, who died in 2011, but five sisters remain in the city. However, running costs have become too high at the 20-bedroom, Grade II-listed, property and it has been put on the market for £850,000.

The Anglican sisters traded Poplar in London’s East End for Birmingham in 1976.

Founded in 1848, the Community of St John the Divine was a nursing order which was influenced by the reforms to the profession of Florence Nightingale, according to the Post. When the National Health Service was launched in 1948, the sisters worked alongside doctors as nurses and midwives, although for the past 39 years the focus of the remaining members of the order has been prayer and hospitality.

Call the Midwife illustrated the social setting of post war Britain and the hard times people lived through, but also depicted the joy the sisters took from their work.

They described it as a realistic look at how their life used to be, and the producer took great care visiting the community in order to make sure what was being portrayed was spot on.

Today, they still provide a valuable service to the city. Last year, there were approximately 1,600 visitors to the house which offers pastoral care and responds to the needs of the poor and marginalised.

The oldest parts of the convent date back to the eighteenth century, but the history of the property may stretch back centuries more. The five sisters still living in the house plan to continue their ministry from a smaller premises.

Photo: Publicity shot for Call the Midwife, by the BBC. Read the Birmingham Post story here.


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Philip B. Spivey

Call the Midwife is some of the best television I’ve ever seen and this is why I think it’s a ‘grabber’: The story lines — which take place in the 1950s-60s East End of London—are universal and speak to the simple joys and heartbreak of being alive.

The ‘Christian Midwives’ in this series are truly the brides of Jesus and the exquisite writing and acting brings an exceptional rush of recognition for this viewer: “Aha! This is Christian Community as Jesus would have it; the women love and cherish their community and they love and cherish one another.” They live in the urgency of now and there is no time , or space, for egos.

As the final credits roll, I yearn to see examples of Christian Community like this—before—the next episode. [Some of us are lucky enough to.]

It’s no accident that male figures play ancillary roles in this series, because the power of the nurses’ mission is not held in any single person’s hands; it’s held—in—and by— a community of women. Woman have traditionally accomplished the on-the-ground-work for the Church: Our Sisters, nurses and mid-wives; altar guilds; collation and hospitality makers; church administrators; mothers, single-mothers; surrogate mothers. It’s only of late, that women in TEC have been RECOGNIZED as the essential spiritual leaders they have always been.

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