Friday, 17 September 2021

Around the WI

Around the WI


THE meeting at the parish hall on September 20 will be open to all.

Anyone who would like to hear Stewart Linford recount “The remarkable story of The Windsor chair” can attend.

Entry for non-members is £3, which includes refreshments.


IN August seven members enjoyed a really nice trip down the river from Caversham to Henley.

Four members made the return journey after lunch in Henley. The other three ladies met a friend and also had lunch in Henley, making their way back by road later.

A short shower arrived just after we pulled away from the mooring but luckily didn’t last long.

A coffee/tea break was taken under cover and then we were all up on deck to see the sights — grand houses, boats that had seen better days, wildlife and two locks. All in all, a nice day out.

Our meetings are held in the hall of Caversham Heights Methodist Church on the corner of Highmoor Road and Woodcote Road, Caversham, beginning at 7.30pm.

Ladies are welcome to come and visit and enjoy our hospitality and hear what our WI is all about.

For more information, email


ON Wednesday, August 16, members and friends gathered at Gibstroude Farm for the annual WI outing to Hever Castle in Kent (pictured right).

The castle was built in the 13th century as a manor house and was acquired by the Boleyn family in 1462.

It was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, who became lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, thus attracting the eye of Henry VIII.

After Anne’s father died in 1539, Henry VIII acquired the castle and in 1540 gave it to Anne of Cleves as part of his divorce settlement.

When Anne of Cleves died in 1557, the Hever estate reverted to the Crown.

Sir Edward Waldegrave, a member of “Bloody” Queen Mary’s council, was appointed a commissioner for the sale of Crown land and promptly assigned himself the castle and estate of Hever.

When the Protestant queen Elizabeth I took the throne, Waldegave was arrested and sent to the tower where he died in 1561.

His son Charles, who was barred from government office for being a Catholic, then spent his remaining years refurbishing the castle.

When Charles died, his son Edward moved in.

However, this Edward Waldegrave raised a “regiment of horse” and joined the Civil War as a royalist.

Upon the Surrender in 1645, he had to pay £50,000 in sequestrations, about £4million in today’s money.

The Waldegrave family continued to occupy the castle until 1715.

Edmund Wakefield Meade was connected to the family by marriage and inherited the castle in 1841 but he was not interested in it and the building progressively fell into disrepair.

It was sold to the wealthy American millionaire William Waldorf Astor in 1903.

He carried out major restoration of the castle to make it into a family home as well as creating the lake and moat, which were completed in 1906.

The Broadlands Property Ltd, which is chaired by the Guthrie family, from Yorkshire, bought the castle from the Astor family in 1983.

The castle has three floors and parts of it date back to the Tudor period. A number of rooms were converted during the refurbishment in the early 1900s.

We saw Anne Boleyn’s bedroom as well as the one Henry VIII used during his visits and there were many displays and family trees illustrating the infighting in the royal families as a result of the Reformation.

There were many pieces of Tudor furniture and tapestries on display as well as a room with some gruesome instruments of torture.

The grounds consisted of a number of exquisite gardens, named Italian, rose, dahlia, Tudor, sunken and chess, all beautifully maintained.

There was a maze that we were able to try, although we entered through the exit and made our way to the entrance just to be different. We also did it the correct way round.

Finally, we walked around the lake to the cascading waterfall/weir where we found a number of ducks happily swimming and basking in the sunshine on the shore.

Sheila Williams applied to represent the Berkshire Federation in the Huxley Cup competition for flower arranging on August 1 and was surprised and delighted to be accepted (pictured right).

She competed against 16 other WI members from federations ranging from Northumberland to Avon.

The competiton theme was “Through the looking glass”.

Sheila found the experience scary but fun and it was certainly the first time she had arranged flowers in a tent while a thunderstorm raged outside.

Congratulations to Sheila for coming second with her beautiful creation. The winner was from Staffordshire Federation.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, September 20 at 2.30pm.

The speaker will be James Birdseye, a former Wargrave resident, talking about “The life of a paramedic”.

There will be a bring and buy table.

HOT (Henley-on-Thames)

KATIE, our president, welcomed everyone, including our new members and guests, on Friday, August 18.

She explained to everyone that we had only started the group in January, so to please spread the word and bring your friends along.

The “C......” word was mentioned again but we will keep what we discussed a secret until the Henley late-night Christmas shopping event.

Katie then welcomed our guest speakers, Doris and Martyn Jenkins, from the Midland Potters’ Association.

Doris spoke first and explained how she had started pottery when her children had begun school and she felt she would like to do something for herself.

She fancied doing an
A-level in English literature, so she went down to her local college to enrol, only to be told that she couldn’t do that as the 17-and 18-year-old students wouldn’t like it.

What she needed was a leisure activity and was duly handed the brochure of courses. How things have changed nowdays!

By then she was rather cross but she looked at the courses and said: “I will do that one.”

It was pottery and so began a lifelong love.

She passed around our members different types of clay, from earthenware to delta to porcelain, so we could all see and feel the differences.

We were then treated to examples of different styles of pottery from pinchpots to coiling to rolling and moulds.

Doris told us how you could use everyday items in your work, for example leaves or lace pressed into the clay to leave an impression. The clay could be rolled into different shaped bowls, pots etc.

Doris then handed over to her husband, who makes all her moulds as well as looking after the clay firing.

Martyn explained how he makes the moulds and showed us one he had poured that morning.

He also demonstrated how different clays shrink during the drying process and how different clays are fired at different temperatures and for different lengths of time.

Doris then told us about other methods of firing, including pit firing and how raku is done.

It was a fascinating talk and was followed by refreshments including courgette chocolate brownies (who knew that it went so well with a glass of red wine!) and a social chat.

Our next meeting will be at King’s Arms Barn on Friday, September 22 when we will have a talk from Sarah of Red Earth on herbal remedies.

Please come and join us. For more information, email


OUR members and those from our link institutes were given a very warm welcome by Jean Phillis to her beautiful garden on August 2.

This contrasted with the weather, which was extremely wet. In fact, so wet that the garden party was held in the original Edwardian glass house and potting shed, now very pleasingly and comfortably converted into a party room.

Our president Frankie Macmillan welcomed members and guests and after much enthusiastic conversation the committee provided a very lavish tea.

Jan French provided a quiz. She had collected a large basket of 42 wildflowers and foliage for guests to name. The winner was a visitor from Knowl Hill WI.

The wind and rain did clear at the end of the afternoon so many members took the opportunity to look around the stunning garden.

Our speaker in October will be Barbara Ratings on the subject of “A vicar’s wife from Germany”.

In November Brian Clews will return to speak about Britain’s mammals. He is a very popular speaker and an immensely knowledgeable wildlife expert.

We look forward to welcoming visitors and friends to our meetings.


MEMBERS and guests arrived at Peppard war memorial hall on a wet and miserable August afternoon to play board games, which we all enjoyed. After a cream tea and cake, followed by the raffle, everyone continued to play the games with enthusiasm. We certainly plan to hold another games afternoon in the future as it was such a success.

Our next meeting will take place at the hall on September 13 at 2pm when Rob Pritchard will give us a talk on energy. Visitors are most welcome.


OUR summer outing was on a perfect summer’s day.

The morning was spent at the Sandham chapel at Burghclere.

This was built by Mary and Louis Behrend in memory of her brother who died at the end of the First World War.

They commissioned Stanley Spencer to paint the Chapel. He depicted scenes of the war, which took him six years.

We had a wonderful talk given by one of the volunteer guides and even those members who had been before discovered pieces they had not previously noticed.

In the afternoon we visited the textile museum situated in the chapel built by the Americans at Greenham Common.

The great work at the moment is restoring a huge wall hanging entitled The Country Wife, which was made some 60 years ago by many WI members for the Festival of Britain. It was not made to last, so is very much in need of restorative work.

Thanks to Anne Francis who organised this wonderful day.

In August Enid Light hosted a delightful tea party at her lovely cottage. Sixteen members had a happy afternoon and Peter Francis gave them trips in his boat.

Now we look forward to our September meeting when we will have a talk called “The history of the Windsor chair”. We will also have a “best bloom” from our gardens competition.

All are welcome — if you are interested, please call (01491) 578566 for more information.


WE had no official meeting during August but if we thought we were getting a month off we were wrong!

We had a wonderful mixed day organised by our programme makers to find out more about the area around Greys village, a near neighbour.

About 14 of us had a delightful, energetic walk starting at the Church of St Nicholas and encompassing Greys Court.

Then more members and husbands joined us for a superb lunch in the garden room at the Maltsters Arms, opposite the church. We then returned to the church for a well-presented talk on the people and connections between Greys Court and the church.

Each family owning the court is represented with either a tomb, floor brass, or wall plaque and, of course, graves in the case of the last owners, the Brunners.

Greys Court itself is depicted in the stained glass east window (pictured below right).

After a walk round the various interesting artefacts, we met in the community room for a splendid tea provided by the members present. What a lovely spread to end a perfect day.

The diners group had a great evening meal on the sunny riverside terrace of the Benson Waterfront (pictured below left).

Our caterers and helpers provided a lunch for a visiting group from Buckinghamshire.

Thirty-seven of them were treated to not only food but also a talk by a member on the famous Maharajah’s Well, which is opposite our hall, and the visitors had the opportunity to walk over to see it in all its golden splendour (although it was undergoing a repaint job at the time).

Our usual quiz was enjoyed by the visitors over coffee and sweets at the end of their two-course meal and they pronounced it the best lunch out they had had in a long time.

Our games players met up, enjoying friendly casual table games at a member’s house.

The book club is still reading the novels supplied by the library service and discussing them once a month.

The more energetic walkers and swimmers are happy to partake of these monthly occasions too.

Those who enjoy needlecraft and a chat have yet another chance to indulge at a member’s house each month and just take whatever they are currently working on.

The speaker for our September meeting has cancelled but we are confident that our committee will come up with something equally good for us to enjoy.


IN August we had a look into the past with our speaker Jane Stubbs, talking about “Corsets, crinolines and mangles — women’s lives in the 19th century”.

She was an interesting and amusing speaker.

She had brought a dressmaker’s dummy attired in the clothing of the housekeeper, Mrs Fairfax of Thornfield Hall, and intrigued us as she removed the layers of her clothing!

Jane also illustrated her talk with slides of the clothes worn and gadgets used in the period to show what the 19th century was like for women.

On a wet afternoon in July, several members braved the weather for a boat trip on the River Thames to visit Midsomer Murders locations aboard The Waterman, from Hobbs of Henley.

The rain stopped and we could sit up on deck with a glass of wine and enjoy the passing countryside in the company of good friends.

Our outing in August was to the sculptural blacksmith Julie Grose at Warren Hill Farm, Nuffield.

She showed us how to make a twisted wrought iron handle. She also explained how she had become a blacksmith and her ambitions for the future.

We than went to the Field Kitchen at Nettlebed and enjoyed a lovely cup of tea and a slice of home-made cake.


A FINE evening and excellent food, including an assortment of delicious puddings, greeted members, their families and friends at our annual barbecue in the garden of Goring Heath parish hall on the evening of the third Tuesday in August.

A few business announcements were made by the president, including the appointment of our new honorary treasurer, which was welcomed by the gathering with enthusiastic applause.

President Frances informed us that a cheque had been received from the Art Café in Whitchurch where we ran a coffee and cakes morning earlier in the year to support the Helen and Douglas House hospice for children and young people.

People travelling across Whitchurch Bridge in May will recall the delightful display of “wool bombing” and donations from this have been apportioned between the organisations raising money through coffee mornings to add to their donations.

Early in the month we visited Ewelme, where we had lunch, and plans are afoot for social events for the next few months.

In early September some members will be spending a day at Denman College.

In October the WI Pang Valley Group will be staging their annual meeting at the Beansheaf community cenre in Calcot.

In December we willl have a demonstration of how to make your own Christmas decorations, holly and ivy etc, for your table and fireplace.

Our September speaker will be Gemma Wise, senior community fund-raiser at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed, who will tell us about the origins and history of the hospice and the work the charity does there.

There will be a competition for craft items produced by members.

We have a business meeting with a speaker on the third Tuesday of most months and we also plan a social or craft morning, or possibly a walk and pub lunch, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our monthly meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, starting at 10.15am. Visitors are welcome — for more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


ANN LARDEN welcomed members to our garden meeting on August 16, which we held at Shillingford Bridge Hotel.

The birthday girls for the month were Ann Larden, Pat Ferris, Jo Sutcliffe, Marianne Adams and Judy Williams who each received a lovely buttonhole.

The lunch club this month is being held at Home Sweet Home at Roke.

Several of our members attended a games afternoon with Peppard WI and had fun.

Our homes and gardens group is going to Alresford in Hampshire for the day, which will include a trip on the Watercress Line.

We had a wonderful tea with a delicious selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes.

The sun shone and the view of the River Thames from the window of the dining room was lovely — a perfect afternoon. Thanks to Betty Thomas, Gill Woods and Barbara George.

We are back in the village hall in September, so please come and join us.

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