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.
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 10 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
more to come in March ........