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 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.
more to come in April ......