Eglingham Womens Institute
Inspiring Women for over 100 years
Meetings every 2nd Thursday (except August)
Held in Eglingham Village Hall
Visitors are always made very welcome
PRESIDENT - Brenda Robertson - 01665 579337
SECRETARY - Gill Rollings - 01668 215613
TREASURER - Judith Price
PROG. SEC - Carolyn Brewster - 01665 578655
January 11 BAMBURGH & ST. OSWALD Jessica Turner
Bones from Bowl Hole Cemetery help tell the story of the King's court
February 8 ONCOLOGY IN ALNWICK Cath Johnston
Find out about our local cancer services and our centenary charities
March 8 MEMBERS CENTENARY CELEBRATION
Our chance to celebrate 100 years of Eglingham WI
April 12 HENS THAT WANT TO CROW Liz O'Donnell
NE's pioneering women's struggle for votes and other campaigns
May 10 OFFICIAL CENTENARY CELEBRATION
Invited guests join us on this special evening celebration
June 14 CANINE PARTNERS Susan Fulton & Ester
Hear about a charity which transforms the lives of the disabled by training
July 12 ANNUAL MEETING & CENTENARY QUIZ
We review the past year and elect our officers
CENTENERY COMPETITION AND SPECIAL SUPPER
Classic dishes over 10 decades
September 13 INDIAN COOKING Ruhila Shahab
A demonstration and spicy tasting evening
October 11 A LIVELY HEART Jane Graham
Enjoy the story of a lady with a GTI engine!
November 8 CHRISTMAS HANDS ON Becky Davies
Our chance to make a seasonal decoration
December 13 CHRISTMAS MEAL
Our annual treat at the end of the year
The Women's Institute was formed in 1915 to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then the organisation's aims have broadened and the WI is now the largest voluntary women's organisation in the UK. The WI celebrated its centenary in 2015.
The WI plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.
Hear Abouts was created following the 2005 Parish Plan consultations. It is a completely independent organisation and is now governed by a Constitution based on a Charity Commission model. Our aims are:
To promote and strengthen the community life of Eglingham Civil Parish (“the Parish”)by producing and delivering free to every household, in the Parish, a news magazine with information and articles relevant to the Parish, without distinction of political, religious or other opinion. The organisation to be not for profit and to remain independent of any political or commercial enterprise.
Every month, one of our WI members, Pat Ives, provides a summary of our meeting to be published in this magazine.
Brenda opened the meeting and following normal business, gave a report from the annual council meeting of the Northumberland Federation of WIs, which had been held at the RGS in Newcastle.
Two new members, Gil Ridgway and Jan Montgomery joined our group.
Our speaker for April was Liz O’Donnell whose talk was entitled Hens That Want To Crow. She gave an interesting talk with slides about the struggle for votes and other campaigns of suffragists and suffragettes. She had done extensive research on the subject and it was very refreshing to hear about the women from the North East instead of what happened in London and the south of the country. Liz covered the period from 1866 to 1918, when the women turned their efforts to the war, finally getting the vote (at least for some) in 1928.
This month’s raffle was won by Gill Rollings.
Next month’s meeting on the 10 May will be the second of our centenary celebrations, when we will be joined by invited guests.
On the 10 May we held the second of our centenary celebrations. In the village hall, beautifully decorated and with attractively laid tables, we were joined by around 30 invited guests. On arrival there was a glass of prosecco or non-alcoholic drink for everyone. Our president Brenda opened the evening by welcoming everyone and explained that the evening was in honour of Fiona Robson and that all the proceeds from the raffle and collection would be given to the Alnwick Oncology Unit and Wansbeck Palliative Care Unit where Fiona had her treatments. Andy Gray was busy taking photos of everyone, which will be incorporated into our centenary quilt. A delicious cold buffet supper had been prepared by members of the committee and whilst everyone was enjoying their food, pictures of WI activities and members past and present, were shown on the screen. Brenda had made a beautiful celebration cake and this was served to everyone, along with a glass of prosecco. We had booked a magician for the entertainment but he had been delayed at Rome airport and the person he had arranged to take his place did not turn up either. Apparently, he went to Ellingham instead! However, it did not seem to mar the evening.
Hilary Robson, the President of Northumberland Federation of WIs, gave a vote of thanks saying how much she had enjoyed the evening. Prudence Marks also gave a vote of thanks. The raffle was drawn and the proceeds amounted to £283. Another successful evening to mark 100 years of Eglingham WI !
Our next meeting is on Thursday 14 June when our speaker is Susan Felton who will be talking about Canine Partners, a charity which transforms the lives of the disabled by training assistance dogs.
In 2018 Northumberland WI are celebrating their Centenary which means that there will be lots of celebrations taking place to commemorate this special time.
Carolyn Brewster, one of our members at Eglingham WI, is compiling a number of very interesting articles, ten in total, '100 things you may not know about Eglingham WI'. The first 20 are below with more to follow this year.
The Women’s Institute is now the most influential women’s organisation in the UK, and its history is well recorded (www.thewi.org.uk). This year, Eglingham WI is celebrating its Centenary, and for the first time, in a series of 10 special celebratory articles in Hear Abouts, our WI Archivist will set out 100 facts designed to give an insight into its long and significant role in our local community. The information will mostly revolve around key themes rather than presenting a chronological record, but this month, we start at the beginning:
1. Founded in Canada in 1897, Stanley Baldwin said the WI was ‘the greatest idea that has come out of the colonies to the Motherland’.
2. The first UK WI met on Anglesey in 1915, and in Northumberland, the first Institute was formed in 1917 at Heddon on the Wall. In the early days, their aim was to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War.
3. In Britain, the two most important criteria were that the WI should be a non-sectarian and non party political organisation. Although closely linked with the campaign for suffrage, the WI was primarily to be a women’s movement dedicated to ‘Home and Country’.
4. Eglingham and District WI was formed in March 1918 and was amongst the first 10 to be established in Northumberland. Eglingham Village Hall (then called the Parish Hall), had been built in 1914, and was a readymade home for their meetings. As with many other WI’s the founder member and first President, Lady Milvain, was also the Lady of the ‘Big House’ in the days when class and education inequalities were the norm. In working together, the WI helped break down these social barriers.
5. The Institute’s early activities were in support of the War effort. In June 1918, the local Alnwick paper reported that Lady Milvain had bought a potato spraying machine through the auspices of EglinghamWI for the use of villagers and tenants. At the same time, the Institute was also involved in saving and recycling paper which was collected at the village Post Office.
6. One of the first social events to be organised by the newly formed WI was an October BALL in the Parish Hall with musicians, Mssrs Short and Thompson, and light refreshments. Admission was 1s, and an impressive £10 profit was made for Institute funds. Local newspaper correspondent Curlsheugh reported:
‘The ball was a great success. The whole of the arrangements were entirely in the hands of the ladies, and most excellently did they perform their duties. It was quite a unique experience to be present at a function so completely under the management of the fair sex, but I think all will agree that the manner in which everything was carried out demonstrated very forcibly what the ladies are capable of accomplishing, and augers well for the success of our local WI.’
7. The WI was closed for the duration of WW2 and reformed in December 1947 by a Mrs Marshall. Unfortunately, little more is known about the early days as all the meeting records before this date were burnt.
8. A glimpse of WI life in December 1934 is given in a local newspaper report.
‘The monthly meeting of the Women’s Institute was held in the Parish Hall on Thursday last, when a large attendance of members was presided over by Mrs Ainger, vice-president, in the absence of Mrs Bridgeman. A letter was read from Mrs Carr-Ellison thanking members for the Northumberland County Guild work. Mr Wannop gave a splendid lecture on stock breeding, and he was thanked on the motion by Rev. Canon Ainger. Supper was served by Nurse Jackson, Miss Rogerson and Miss Rough.’
9. In 1937, to celebrate the coronation of George VI, an avenue of 152 Horse Chestnuts was planted on the Great North Road (now the A1) near Tritlington some miles north of Morpeth, one for every Institute in the county. A few have survived subsequent road widening schemes.
10. 2018 marks a number of other special anniversaries for women:
100 years since the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave women over 30 the vote for the first time
90 years since the Equal Franchise Act was passed, giving all women the vote at age 21
60 years since the Life Peerages Act was passed, allowing women to sit in the House of Lords
As the month of its foundation, March is Eglingham WI’s time to celebrate. Birthdays are the theme of the second reflection on our Centenary.
11. In true WI fashion, every significant birthday has been celebrated with a specially decorated cake, in recent years, all crafted by our master baker, Brenda Robertson. Even at our monthly meetings, members go to a lot of trouble to prepare a tasty spread, and our delicious supers have become famous. Unlike some other WI’s who take their own mug and eat biscuits, we enjoy our tea in cups and saucers emblazoned with the WI logo alongside a fabulous supper spread on matching WI plates.
12. Stylish since at least the 1950’s, our President’s table has been covered in a specially embroidered cloth and a seasonal arrangement of flowers. The cloth was bought and then embroidered with the WI logo by a member in 1958 to commemorate the Institute’s 40th anniversary. It has survived 60 years with only a few patches.
13. Here is a list of significant birthdays. It is interesting to see how the food choices, music and gifts reflect fashions of the times. The ladies certainly knew how to celebrate!
1958 40 40 out of 44 Members sat down to a supper of cold meats garnished with salad, fruit and ice cream followed by tea and biscuits, all prepared by the Committee. Entertainment was provided by Eglingham Ladies Choir. Members presented the Institute with a gift of 4 dozen teaspoons bearing the WI monogram. A press cutting of the time reports that games played included crazy whist, charades, and musical pass the parcel. The game which members were most keen on was ‘an ankle competition, and the judge awarded the prize to Mrs R Dickson of Beanley.’
1968 50 Golden Jubilee Party at Eglingham Hall, the home of Mrs Bewicke, whose mother had been the first President. Supper was provided by her and a film was shown to entertain Members. Mrs Bewicke offered a site in the village for a WI bench to commemorate the Jubilee.
1978 60 At their Diamond Jubilee party, Members invited other WI’s and the Hall Committee. Supper included ham salad, trifle, cakes and sherry followed by the birthday cake. Entertainment was provided by an ‘excellent concert party from Millfield’. The Hall Committee were presented with new stage curtains and a 60 piece china set.
1988 70 Meal at Percy Arms, Chatton for 13 Members and their guests. Three courses were followed by coffee and mints. When the entertainers failed to turn up, Members organised a game of charades.
1993 75 Party in Village Hall. Every Member received an engraved wine goblet in commemoration and each guest a WI teaspoon.
1998 80 Meal in Village Hall with Members from neighbouring WI’s and past Presidents. Hot and cold dishes served with salads were followed by a choice of deserts were prepared by outside caterers (Peter Allan, Wooler) and entertainment was provided by B&J McKinely on accordion and guitar.
2003 85 Dinner at Tankerville Arms, Eglingham
2008 90 Party in Village Hall. Members and their guests, dressed in 1918 fashion, were wined and dined, and sang songs of yesteryear. Every member received a gift of a hand embroidered gingham lavender bag.
14. Both Eglingham and the Northumerland Federation of WI’s celebrate their Centenaries in 2018. In Eglingham, preparations for this significant and special event have been carefully planned by the Committee over the past year. An early decision was to offer an inspirational programme with all female speakers. The Ossary at Bamburgh, the NE’s pioneering women’s struggle for votes, assistance dogs and an Indian cookery demonstration and tasting are some of the year’s highlights.
15. Two celebratory events have been planned for the year, one a Member’s only treat this month, with supper provided by caterers Fiona Burn from Berwick, and a quiz. Then, in May, we have invited guests from the community and other WI’s to join us for a supper prepared by members, entertainment provided by Magician, Paul Lytton, and a fund raising raffle for our two Centenary cancer charities in memory of our past Member, Fiona Robson.
16. Our archive, usually stored in a spare bedroom, has been invisible to most members. Two projects have emerged from the desire of the Committee to make the information more accessible. The first has been to research the record to provide the historical information for this series of articles in Hear Abouts, and also available to read on the WI page of the Parish website www.eglingham.info.
17. The other major Centenary project will be to create a large modern day quilt made up of 100 digital images reflecting the WI's past as well as its present. The 100 images will be selected from the WI's own archive, more recent photographs from Members, and a number of specially commissioned shots at this year's Centenary events.
18. Wall hangings have a valuable and longstanding place in the WI nationally, and this idea brings the tradition up to date. It will show case who we are as a WI and be a permanent, visible and accessible record of member’s interests, achievements and awards.
19. Although we acknowledge and value our past, we want to show that we are a modern WI with novel ideas and a future that will take us through the next 100 years. The costs of the banner has been funded through the Community Foundation from the Percy Family Fund.
20. The banner will be unveiled at Bailiffgate Museum’s WI exhibition in November 2018 celebrating the Centenaries of seven WI’s in the North of the county. After, it will be brought back to hang in the village hall, to reinforce our historical context and the significant place Eglingham WI has had and continues to have in the wider community.
April 100 things you may not know about Eglingham WI
With the arrival of spring, this third reflection on our Centenary focuses on events around Easter and eggs.
21. There has been a long standing tradition in Eglingham to donate eggs for charity. It started during WW1, when Mrs Ormsby, the Bishop of Eglingham’s wife, appealed for fresh eggs on behalf of the National Egg Collection for wounded soldiers and sailors in London and the Pendower Military Convalescence Hospital, run by the Red Cross, in Newcastle.
22. Eggs are what we would now call a super food. Poultry World, who launched the appeal, said ‘every hen should be on active service’ and at a time when many people kept hens it was a way they could easily contribute to the war effort. Mrs Ormsby’s appeal raised over 100 dozen eggs. Special egg boxes were sent carriage free to London and back by rail, and donors were encouraged to write their name and address on the eggs with a message.
23. The local Alnwick newspaper correspondent was impressed with Eglingham’s efforts and, in June 1918, wrote ‘other country parishes might easily help the wounded this way’.
24. The WI was quick to pick up this initiative and when records begin again after WW2, collecting eggs at Easter time for various charities became an annual endeavour for almost 40 years until the mid 1980’s.
25. In the 1950’s, both fresh and dyed boiled eggs were donated, collected and delivered by Eglingham members for the Poor Children’s Holiday Association (PCHA), a charity supporting Stannington Sanatorium. This charity, which is now known as Children North East, is still supported by our wider community at both Easter and Christmas time.
26. During the early 1970’s, eggs were packed and sent by bus to the Prudhoe Street Mission, but by 1979, members decided to send the eggs locally to the Cottage Hospital, and in the 1980’s to Thornbrae Children’s Home (4 dozen in 1984), both in Alnwick.
27. In the 1970’s and 80’s, the WI organised successful annual fund raising Easter Fairs. Members brought their eggs for collection to the village hall, and for the last two years, the eggs were only sent fresh.
28. Dyed eggs were prepared in various ways. One method, remembered by past member Enid Grahamslaw, involved pressing small flowers against the egg shell, then wrapping with a colourful fabric and finally using wool to hold it all in place whilst the egg was boiled. The dye would run from the fabric to stain the egg shell leaving only the shape of the flower the original colour.
29. The WI nationally offers a unique role for women to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities, and spring is the time the National Federation’s of WI vote at their Annual Meeting on which resolution to select for their next campaign. Each year, members have the chance to put forward issues they want to raise awareness about. Successful resolutions become mandates that form the basis of campaigns and educational activity.
30. In 2011, Eglingham member, Dr Penny Garood, proposed a resolution ‘Reducing Rural Fuel Poverty’ which was chosen to be shortlisted for consideration by the national membership. There is a strong link between fuel poverty and being off the gas grid which disproportionally affects rural homes. Unfortunately, although it is an ongoing problem, which has worsened as fuel prices have risen, members were very disappointed when it did not receive enough votes for it to be the successful choice.
Our fourth delve into the WI archives focuses on the important link between the WI and its home, Eglingham Village Hall.
31. Like many other WI’s, Eglingham has a close relationship with its village hall. Over the years, members have helped improve facilities, raised large sums of money and been involved in its management.
32. Except for the WI’s suspension during WW2, and at other times when, for various reasons, the meetings took place in the school, the pub, member’s houses or other adjacent village halls, the WI has been the Hall’s longest regular user.
33. When the WI reformed after the War, the burning issue was the lack of heating. When the Hall was first opened in 1914, the only heating was an open fire. In the 1950’s, after the Hall Committee didn’t responded to their request for more heating on meeting nights, members took matters into their own hands. They asked an electrical company if they could have convector heaters on approval (which were supplemented by ‘sausages’ for the doors made by members). In 1957, they bought the electrical heaters and then decided to erect a door at the foot of the stairs leading to the stage to help prevent drafts. A bring and buy sale was organised to help fund the improvements. However, comments about heating continued to be the most frequent complaint for winter meetings, with members having to leave on their outdoor clothing to keep warm, until only around the time of the hall’s centenary, 2014, when a new effective heating system was installed and the Hall was properly insulated.
34. Initially, issues raised by the WI were sent by letter to the Chairman of the Hall Committee, but by 1958 records show that the WI had its own representative, a Miss Isa Wilson. This association has become even closer over the years; with the WI maintaining at least one official seat round the table. In our small community, other Committee members have often also been WI members.
35. As well as supporting the management of the Hall, the WI has raised significant sums of money for various appeals. For more than 50 years, the WI has organised Whist Drives, Concerts, a Fashion Show, Coffee Evenings, Christmas Fairs, and sponsored events including darts and a walk. It also made one off donations from its funds for specific projects, and contributed numerous raffle prizes. In 1961, a significant debt of £700 was reduced to £300 helped by the generous support of WI members. More recently, there has been less pressure to fund raise as sums of money became available from the local authority, lottery grants and then significantly from the Community Wind Farm Fund.
36. The WI has also gifted specific items to improve the comfort and facilities in the Hall. In 1954, the WI President, Mrs Grant, asked the Archdeacon, who chaired the Hall Committee, for permission to buy new stage curtains and fit a proscenium arch, and then held a Whist drive and concert to raise the money to pay for them. Then, as part of their Diamond Jubilee preparations, members agreed to donate another new pair of stage curtains for the Hall. Mrs Bolam ordered them from Binns in Newcastle after the money had been raised and the President, Mrs Gregory, presented them to the Hall Committee at their 60th birthday celebrations in March 1978. At the same time, the WI also gifted a 60 piece crockery set.
37. In the early 1960’s, members asked the Archdeacon if they could put up a darts board. There is no record of the team’s achievements, but then in the early 1990’s another request was made to put up a new board. This time the four team members entered the Northumberland WI Federation’s knock-out darts competition and won four years in succession. Eglingham members also hosted knock-out rounds of the county Federation’s domino competitions in the Hall.
38. Since the 1950’s, the archives show that the WI has also regularly offered to help keep the Hall tidy participating in cleaning and caretaking rotas.
39. In recent years, their stall at the Hall’s Christmas Market has generated around £600 and is now the main WI annual fund raiser. This is shared between supporting WI activities and their nominated annual charity.
40. Thanks to several years of dedicated work by volunteers on the Hall Management Committee, the first meeting of the WI’s Centenary year with a talk on Bamburgh’s new Ossary, was held in great comfort in the newly refurbished hall with a convenient hatch into the kitchen and with all the advantages of a state of the art multimedia system.
June 100 things you may not know about Eglingham WI
The WI has had a long tradition of fund raising in the community, and this fifth reflection explores the archive for evidence of their achievements.
41. Annual subscriptions paid by WI Members have to be supplemented to pay for speakers and hall hire. The first record, in 1918, of the newly formed WI raising money for their own funds was a Ball in the Village Hall which netted £10, and dances continued to be a popular and important way of raising money. Members have also donated occasional payments to the Northumberland Federation of WIs and the WI’s residential college, Denman, in Oxfordshire. Members also had their own Savings Group which was started in 1958 by former secretary, Dorothy Little. Six years later, they had an impressive total of over £1000 in their accounts.
42. Careful financial management by our Treasurers’ over the years has enabled the WI to satisfy its own needs and then use its expertise to organise events to raise significant sums of money in support of other causes. As a charity, the WI can only support other causes that fall within its own objectives. So, in addition to the large sums raised for Eglingham Village Hall (benefiting the local community), the WI has contributed to providing facilities and equipment at local hospitals (advancing public health), and bursaries for young women to further their studies (education).
43. Fund raising events have reflected the fashions of the time, but some annual appeals for the Red Cross and Coins for Friendship, which helps women in the developing world, have remained perennial favourites.
44. Popular between 1950 and 2000 were bring and buy stalls, coffee mornings and evenings, whist drives, dances and concerts. Between 1950 and 1970, the WI had, at various times, an Entertainment Committee, a Choir, a Drama Group, and a Skiffle Group! Later, in the 1970’s and 80’s, concerts with sketches and songs entertained the Senior Citizens at Christmas time with funds raised from their annual Christmas Fayre. Raffles have and continue to be the mainstay of fundraising efforts, featuring at every monthly meeting. In the 1980’s, there was even a ‘Raffle Official’ on the Committee.
45. Annual fund raising efforts also relied on established events. For years when it reformed after the Second World War, the WI organised Easter Shows and Spring and Christmas Fayres. A scone stall at the Chillingham Vintage Vehicle Rally ran for 19 years from 1994-2013, and a Wayside stall in Eglingham village was organised outside the Tankerville Arms for many of the years between 1966 and 2014. The first stall ‘received the support of all’ and raised over £8. In 2001, it was recorded to be ‘an excellent way to make money.’ However, an outside stall was always a risk during British summers, and there were several years when it had to be cancelled because of bad weather.
46. Over the last few years, the major fund raiser has been an indoor stall at the Eglingham Christmas Market. Orders for Christmas cakes, mince pies and meringues have been very popular, and on the day sales of jams, jellies and other Christmas treats enable the WI to share the significant profits between themselves and their nominated annual charity.
47. After a talk by a representative of Send a Cow (to Africa ) in 2010, Members decided, as a personal gesture, to send a donation to the charity instead of exchanging Christmas presents. This has now become an annual tradition with some Members also donating an additional sum in lieu of sending each other cards. Recent donations have favoured local charities.
48. There are many examples in the archives of the WI responding to specific appeals. As well as their generous contributions to Village Hall restoration funds, in 1953, it contributed £20 to Eglingham village’s Coronation Fund which raised money for a celebratory concert and dance. A raffle supported Romanian Children and a bring and buy raised £50 in 1990 for Dr Roy’s Indian appeal. Recently, Members made a donation to the Stephen Carey Fund after the charity had helped install defibrillators at Eglingham and South Charlton Village Halls.
49. Medical charities, especially those involved with cancer, has been firm favourites with Members over the years. Year of the Disabled, Northumberland Day Hospice, Alnwick Hospice, Breast Cancer, Arthritis and Rheumatism Research, and Air Ambulance are a few examples of charities to have benefited from the fund raising efforts of Eglingham WI.
50. This year our chosen Centenary charities are in memory of our former, and much missed member, Fiona Robertson, who died, too young, in 2017. During 2018, we hope to raise a significant sum to donate to the Oncology Unit at Alnwick Infirmary and the Palliative Care Ward at Wansbeck Hospital.
If you’ve missed earlier reflections, catch up on the Eglingham Parish website www.eglingham.info
more to come in July ......