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25th Jun, 2022

'The Order of the Garter' next up for Salwarpe WI after The Great War speech enthrals members

THE NEXT meeting of Salwarpe WI will take place on Monday, August 13.

Members of Wythall WI will be guests at the get-together which is being held at 7pm at Salwarpe Village Hall.

The two groups are ‘twinned’ WIs and Salwarpe members attended Wythall’s garden party earlier this month.

Angela Panrucker will give a talk on The Order of the Garter and there will be a raffle and competition for ‘a certificate you are proud of’.

The charge for the meeting, which includes a ploughman’s supper and cake, is £1.50 per person.

For September’s meeting on Monday, September 10, at 7.30pm at the Village Hall there will be a cheese and Wine evening, courtesy of Waitrose, and the competition will feature objects for displaying cheese.

New members and guests are always most welcome to join the ladies.

At the July meeting President, Jennifer Williams, welcomed four new members to a well-attended July meeting and

business began with a plea for more cakes and helpers for the afternoon of Salwarpe Fete, when members

shall be serving tea and home-made cakes in the village hall.

Kate Anderson then gave a report on the NFWI Annual Meeting held in Cardiff on June 6, when the Worcestershire Federation resolution ‘Mental Health Matters’ calling for better acceptance and support for mental illness was passed by an overwhelming majority of 98 per cent in favour.

Details were given of forthcoming events and members were then invited to put their names forward for a Denman bursary—the WI college offers a wide range of courses on all sorts of activities and crafts and is an amazing place to visit. Our coffee morning for July will take place at the Chateau Impney, and Pauline Thomas will be leading the monthly walk this time around Hadzor and along the canal to Droitwich for coffee at the Lido.

Finally, before the speaker was introduced, Sheila Preston read her moving entry for the Lady Denman Cup, ‘A Day that changed my Life’ about the day that her daughter was born and that truly special bond that new mothers feel.

The July meeting’s speaker

This was Paul Harding who spoke about Edwardian times and the Great War.

Looking the part in a natty bowler hat, Paul explained that the bowler had replaced the top hat of the Victorian era as the mark of a gentleman and was sported by the gentry and the well-to-do, with a boater as an alternative for the summer months.

The lower classes wore the ubiquitous flat cap – or the ‘peaky blinder’ as it has become better known recently. For ladies, Paul said it was a case of the bigger the hat, the more important the lady! Long hatpins were needed to keep them in place and apparently it was not unknown for suffragettes to use them as weapons! Furs too were very fashionable – and, of course, the more money a lady had at her disposal the more furs she wore.

While today people think of the conditions in the war trenches as appalling, Paul said in fact

many of the soldiers would have been quite used to such discomforts as they came from overcrowded slums, where a lot of people lived in really bad conditions in tiny back-to-back houses, or those similar to the now-demolished George’s Yard in Worcester (once situated to the rear of Greyfriars House).

Changes were afoot, electricity was slowly coming to replace gas mantles, but people were very

suspicious of it, fearing it would leak from the sockets!

The war led to severe food shortages and a change in agricultural practices. We had been used to reaping the rewards of the Empire – we imported huge amounts of fruit and vegetables and 80 per cent of the grain used in Britain in Edwardian times came from Africa and New Zealand: our home fields being used for rearing sheep and cattle.

The German U-boats targeted fishing boats and boats carrying food, along with our warships, and voluntary rationing was suggested. However, people didn’t follow that code and proper rationing was later introduced.

Life at home carried on pretty much as normal though for the first two years of the war. When war was announced at 11am on August 4, 1914, people were convinced it would all be over by Christmas.

Even in 1915 the feeling remained that it would be finished by the end of that year. The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) had been passed at the start of the war to help prevent invasion and improve morale – though how watering down alcoholic beverages and restricting opening times for public houses helped the latter I’m not sure. British Summer Time was also introduced for the first time during the First World War.

There was an upsurge in patriotism – Arthur Benson’s refrain ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ set to Elgar’s rousing music became very popular, and Vesta Tilley was dubbed the Greatest Recruiting Sergeant of them all. The WI was formed in 1915 in Britain and its chief role was market gardening and food production and the Women’s Land Army was also first formed in WWI by Lady Denman of the WI.

There was a huge loss of life in The Great War with over 9million people killed altogether, and life inevitably

changed as a result.

Women were no longer used to being stuck at home, or had lost their husbands or fiancés, and were freed from the shackles of domestic life for the first time. It was, in effect, the start of modern life.

Judith Cussen thanked Paul for his most interesting talk, which had awakened memories of grandparents for many of us – this was the era in which most of members’ parents had been born!

Members were invited to put their best foot forward for a photograph of their Hotter shoes before refreshments were served and reminded to visit the well-stocked competition table, where a wide variety of yellow objects were on display.

Items included a Japanese tea pot and cups, fresh flowers and a lovely statuette of an African lady in a yellow costume. However, the most popular item proved to be the quacking/singing/dancing duck owned by Barbara Jauncey!


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