About Areley Kings Women's Insitiute

About our WI
Our History
When you look back through the WI records and accounts it is interesting to see how the aims of the Federation have developed and diversified over the years, an yet the emphasis has remained that WI membership should help us to:-
  • Develop our skills and talents,
  • Voice our opinions and feel that they count
  • Work and play together for the good of the community in which we live
  • Make friends and have fun
  • Widen our knowledge and understanding of the world
Today Areley Kings WI is a lively and popular institute with a membership of around 45.
"On November 2nd 1926" the Parish magazine stated " a very enjoyable afternoon was spent in the Parish rooms when 50 members were enrolled.  The next meeting will be held on Tues. Dec 7th at 6.30pm, when all intending members will be welcome. Mrs McLauchlan will demonstrate 'Rushwork',"
In those days, the room was much less comfortable with no electricity, no proper kitchen and an outside, decidedly primitive, closet. gas was the only amenity. Nevertheless, throughout that first winter the interest in rush mats continued, later supplemented with raffia work and such light fun as "roll-call" round the room on "The daily task I most dislike doing" As red quarry tiles were the usual kitchen flooring at the time, no doubt the rush mats were warmer to the feet of members.
A lecture on gardening came in March and the rush matting changed to Rush seating in April. In May there was a travel talk by the President, Mrs Ernest Lloyd, on "Life in India" and the Sale Stall put in its first , very successful, appearance; we are glad that it flourishes to this day. Perhaps the most enterprising event of the first year was the entry of a team in the County Drama Competition at the Theatre Royal, Worcester.  Mrs Ernest Lloyd led her team of twelve which presented a farce ‘The Great Chan's Diamond' and acted the ‘Trial Scene’ from 'Merchant of Venice'.  Although they did not win, they were second in the farce and fourth in Shakespeare - a good result for a new institute.
In June, Mrs McLauchlan began basket making and the first summer outing (still a popular tradition) was a visit to Leamington Spa via Droitwich, Stratford and Warwick for forty members. On the way home ‘the gloom of the evening was cheered by numerous songs and rounds’. The first Flower Show and Handicraft Exhibition was held in July. In the Autumn, a Worcester lady demonstrated ‘Raffia Embroidery’ while in November, the Rector’s wife, Mrs Cheshire, taught smocking. At that meeting the tune to the WI song ‘Jerusalem’ was taught. Perhaps there was a heavy emphasis on the practical side in the first year, but no doubt, the members had lots of fun as they made their rush mats and baskets.
In spite of the fact that money was in short supply during the early years, many charities were helped by donations, THE Red Cross, the Local Nursing Association. And the Deep Sea Fishermen among others. For many years, except a gap during wartime, the old people of the village were entertained to a party which was usually brightened by the music of the WI Jazz Band which was formed in 1932.
Charity begins at home and the Parish Room has benefited many times. In 1931 the WI paid for electric lights to be installed. For many years, a proper supply of town water and a sewage system were advocated and many severe letters were written on that subject. When at last, after the war, these facilities were installed, the WI contributed generously. In 1949, a rummage sale raised £17.10s. From this £10 were sent for the founding of Denman College and £7.10s were given for the Parish Room Kitchen. These sums do not seem much today, but £1 went a long way in those days. Consider the fact that in 1934, a whist drive raised £4.6s.9d which meant that the WI could buy its own crockery and cupboard.!
During the war there was furious activity to help the war effort. Camouflage nets were made, canning, bottling and jam making helped to liven the dull war-time diet and the knitting and sewing party produced endless comforts for the troops.
From these beginnings, our present members have inherited a tradition of which we can be proud, a tradition of hard work mixed with lively interest and enjoyment but above all, the welcoming friendliness which we hope will be with us for many years to come.
Margaret Shaddock, Secretary 1986,

(Produced for the Diamond Jubilee of Areley Kings Women’s Institute)

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