Author Archives: Greg Jones

Compton Dundon W.I. –  Report of Meeting on 13th June 2018

The meeting was opened by our President, Trish who welcomed  2 visitors and several  apologies were received .

Next month’s speaker has been changed to Grumpy’s Travels in America.

Our speaker, Dr Francis Burroughs was introduced, his subject was  “A Victorian Head Gardener”.  Dr Burroughs gave a very interesting and informative talk covering the many responsibilities of a Victorian Head Gardener.  Long hours had to be worked providing fruit and vegetables for the whole household of 20-30 people, growing and caring for the large variety and quantity of plants required for the kitchen as well as flowers to ‘grace’ the tables and rooms of the household all year round.

Even mowing the lawn involved covering the horse’s hooves with leather boots so that no mark would be left on the lawn.  Other lower members of the garden staff would follow the mower collecting grass cuttings, sweeping  leaves and then ‘ rolling’ the lawn to create lovely chess board markings.

Following the talk Dr Burroughs chose the winning entries of “A Victorian Item”, Trish 1st, Pat 2nd and Mary 3rd.  The flower of the Month competition was won by Janet.

Thanks were given to Wendy for all her work as Press Secretary and in appreciation, she was presented with a gift, including appropriately in view of the speaker’s subject, an orchid.

Items of interest were noted by Janet:

  • Letters of appreciation were received regarding our ‘Votes for Women’ lunch on the 26th May
  • SCFWI annual meeting at Westland’s on 20th October
  • St Andrews Church ‘music’ on Friday,22nd June at 7.30 pm, £10 including refreshments.
  • Montacute Village Open Gardens, 21st – 22nd July (15 gardens). Refreshments at village hall afterwards.  Coffee at 10.30, light lunches and afternoon tea available.  £6 for both days, children free but no dogs.
  • The teams for the Quiz between Compton Dundon and Somerton were finalised.
  • Bucklers Mead WI will be attending our meeting on 11th
  • Trip to Midelney Manor gardens on 18th July, £11.50, including cream tea.
  • ‘Women Walk the World’, 8th August, meet at village hall at 6.30, walk up to Church and back across the fields and then finish at the pub for refreshments.
  • Confirmation that Val and Angie have been elected as Vice Presidents.
  • Visit to Bucklers Mead on Tuesday 12th March, 2019 – speaker’s subject “Royal Shenanigans in the 18th Century”.
  • The 100 Club was won by Toby & Jane Salisbury,  Val and Hilary White and the raffle prizes were won by Pat, Julie, Trish and Wendy.


Jenny Alexander

WI Report – May 2018

This is my swan song. I have retired as Press Correspondent for the above W I. Thank you Greg and Alan for comprehensively printing my reports on the village website and parish magazine respectively.

Thank you to the many members of the public who have said they have enjoyed my reports.

I am very fortunate to have found a very worthy successor in Jenny Alexander and I wish her every success in the future.

Our Speaker this month was Daphne Atkinson whose talk Life Below Stairs was dedicated to her mother who worked for the Marquess of Bristol, family name Hervey. It took Daphne a long time to persuade her mother to put her memoirs on paper, but eventually it was done using lots of Basildon  Bond notepaper.

Ickworth House the Hervey family home was first mentioned in the Domesday Book, John Hervey, 1665 to 1751 was the first Baron of Ickworth and first Earl of Bristol. Ickworth was a most unusual Georgian mansion and in her mother’s time would have had a shooting lodge and gamekeepers cottage.There were five acres of walled gardens and 26 gardeners. Daphne’s mother worked for the 5th Marquess and in 1956 the property was handed over to the National Trust, part of it is now an upmarket hotel.

Daphne’s mother’s wrote a letter in 1934 asking to become a housemaid at Ickworth and was accepted as an under housemaid.

Although the work was hard and monotonous there were compensations, with a servants’ Ball held in the second week of January when Lady Bristol would dance with the butler and Lord Bristol with the cook.

After a 5am start and having cleaned various rooms and hallways, the servants would be summoned to “the room” where they would stand for prayers and bible readings.

Breakfast at 8 am for 45 minutes, the food was always very good.

More cleaning of rooms followed, days off were varied but if Sunday happened to be the day off, one was expected to attend church in the family chapel, Lord Bristol frowned upon any non attendance.

February and the family departed to London, and spring cleaning was carried out at Ickworth. All to be completed before the family returned for shooting parties, tennis parties etc.

Christmas Day, all servants assembled in the Rotunda where presents of £1 and 10shillings notes were dispensed and on Boxing Day in the “Room” carols were sung, games played and food consumed.

Lady Bristol was a very elegant lady but Lord Bristol was fond of practical jokes and would, on occasion, dress shabbily  and pretend to be the gatekeeper, happily accepting any tips which were offered. This money subsequently went towards a Christmas party for poor orphaned children.

A downside to all the hard work was the fact that hands became very sore and chapped due to long exposure to water and harsh cleaning materials.One remedy was to bathe hands in the contents of “the article” a loose reference to the chamber pot kept under the bed, no records remain to show whether this remedy was either used or if it was, whether it was successful in healing the hands.

Angie thanked Daphne for her very entertaining talk and colourful slide show.

The Annual General Meeting followed where Trish Cox was unanimously elected as President for a further term. Sandra Ford our W I Advisor for the Group joined us. Trish thanked Wendy for her press reporting and welcomed Jenny as her successor.This is our 89th Annual General Meeting, we have 9 committee members and 28 members.Our activities over the past twelve months have included Women Walk the World, Janet represented us at Liverpool for National Federation of Women’s Institutes Annual General Meeting. we visited Bucklers Mead W I who also came to us, we took part in the Village Show, our outings also included the Banner Parade at Wells, Thatchers Cider, Balding’s Racing Stables, Wells Cathedral Carol Service, Christmas Concert at Puriton, and Roadshows, at one of which we hosted and our gallant band of caterering ladies supplied the refreshments.We had a stall at the Big Breakfast.

Short Mat Bowls and Scrabble continue. Our little tree continues to flourish despite all the attempts to sabotage it. We have enjoyed very good Speakers.

Entering our 90th year we look forward to celebrations in October and continued support from all members. Pat presented the Financial Report.

Returning to our normal business meeting, Bucklers Mead will visit us in July, Woolavington W I invited us to the celebration of their 75th birthday party, Quiz at Somerton Sports Hall 13th July 7.30.

Short Mat Bowls Competition, Saturday October 6th   Joan will partner Mary, Anthea with Frances or Janet.

Ashcott W I will represent us at the next N F W I A G M, we voted unanimously to support the resolution going forward.

Sandra gave us an in depth discussion as to the future of Wilton Lodge, this has been well reported elsewhere, and although nothing has been decided, it looks inevitable, due to economics, that Wilton Lodge will be sold…… this space.

Thanks were given to Sandra for her visit and her organisation of the Banner Parade in Wells.

A date is to be arranged for a Women Walk the World and there will be a meeting at Pat’s house 11 June 7 pm when an advisor will attend to give advice on how to avoid scamming on computers.

The competition for an item of kitchenalia was won by Angie with a melon ball spoon, second Janet with butter pats, and Pat third with a can opener, given to her by the Street grocer, Mr Horne.

The flower of the month was won by Sally with dianthus.

Next month’s Speaker is Dr Francis Burroughs A Victorian Garden competition Anything Victorian.

Goodbye to all my readers.

Wendy Edwards.

WI Report – April 18

How have developments in modes of transport affected ladies fashions?   This question and many more were answered by Yvonne Bell in her amusing and informative talk, Hobble Skirts and Harem Pants.

Yvonne told us she had paid a previous visit to Meadway Hall when she gave a talk entitled Grandmas Garden to the local Gardening Club  in the main hall and as our meeting was held in a side room due to our diminishing numbers, Yvonne felt she had somehow been demoted.

Spending her married life in an Edwardian house which was furnished with cheap furniture and pictures purchased at auction sales and the fact she was born in 1938,Yvonne says she feels she can almost touch the history of the Edwardian age.Following the death of Queen  Victoria, the Edwardian age was ushered in with Edward VII and the beautiful, elegant Queen Alexandria. Alexandria loved soft materials, pastel shades, her favourite colours being those of the sweet peas. Yvonne has a comprehensive collection of magazines of the age, the Lady, Punch to name but a few and obtains much of her information from these magazines.

The fashionable shape for ladies of broad shoulders, big bosoms, tiny waist, flat stomach and protruding bottoms was achieved with the wearing of very strict corsetry. All this changed in the 1900’s ladies wanted freedom, to ride bicycles, fly in aeroplanes, and in 1909 Wilber Wright was asked by Mrs Edith Burr to be allowed to ride in his aeroplane. He agreed and when the downdraught caused her skirts to ride high, this adventurous lady grabbed a piece  of rope and wound it around the bottom of her skirt. Mrs Burr was the First Lady to fly in an aeroplane and the flight lasted all of two minutes and seven seconds.

On alighting, Mrs Burr “hobbled” due to her walking being restricted by the rope on her skirt, and thus was born the fashionable hobble skirt. Everyone wanted one, the wearing of these skirts caused many problems, the platforms of tram cars were lowered because ladies could not step high enough to get on the tram, and one lady was tragically killed following a fall whilst trying to get out of her automobile.

Harem Pants came about following the coming of the Ballet Russe to London, productions featured extravagant scenery and colourful costumes, never previously seen in ballet productions. Turkish themes, and the appearance of the principal dancer dressed as a black slave wearing harem pants, caused a sensation.

Harem pants were worn under skirts and had the appearance of bloomers. Cartoons in Punch making fun of ladies were commonplace.

However these looser casual forms of dress were very popular, being worn for golf, cycling, and skiing and dancing with the introduction of Rag Time and Tango, such a contrast to the  Victorian minuets. These drastic changes led to the complaint that women were dressing and looking more like a man than a woman.

Pat Maddaford thanked Yvonne, who went on to judge the competition for a Shoe in Any Medium, first was Pat Maddaford, second Janet Davies and third, Mary Hayward. The Flower of the Month was won by Mary Burt with Grape Hyacinths.

Trish announced that in future we are to take home our copy of County News, read it and report back at the next meeting, our thoughts on the contents and whether we would like to take part in any of the advertised events.

At a recent Road Show at the Meadway Hall the committee members had carried out the catering. and a profit of £312.50 was subsequently banked. This is very commendable, it involved a lot of  hard work by a dedicated team of workers.

Pat presented the Financial Statement showing a healthy balance.

At the forthcoming village Flower Show the competition for the W I Shield is for Five Choc Chip Muffins.

Several members and friends were going to Andrew Balding Racing Stables, followed by a visit to Highclere Castle, the trip organised by Angela.

Dates to Remember

18 April Group Spring Meeting at Shapwick

25 April Scrabble at Wendy’s 6.45 p m

28 April Banner Parade in Wells.

26 May Celebration of Votes for Women Meadway Hall. Compton Dundon 12 to 3.30pm Ploughman’s Lunch, Entertainment £7.50.

Next month May 9th Annual General Meeting when the Speaker is Daphne Atkinson, Life Below Stairs, the competition a Piece of Kitchenalia.


Wendy Edwards

WI report – March 2018

We were all inspired by our Speaker, Marion Dale who told us how to create a dream garden, with colour and plants.

Marion’s background was very different from garden designer, being a Marketing Consultant in London, but after thinking for some time about a change of career, a redundancy notice gave her the push to take the plunge. Moving to a converted barn in a village near Marlborough, Marion’s garden was the original cow yard.Hedges of beech, large windows in the barn which let in light, afforded very little privacy, plus the added  burden of a lawn which comprised more weeds than grass, Marion decided something had to be done. Not sure how to proceed, Marion enrolled at Lackham College, plus studying City and Guilds qualification at night school. Her final assignment a show garden won a Gold Medal at the Bath and West Show.

Moving to Somerset four and a half years ago, now living in Tintinhull, renovating a Victorian cottage and garden. Marion advised us to think about the style of garden we would wish to create. Italian style gardens are very formal with very few flowers but lots of water and geometrical landscaping. Cottage style gardens where plants take on shape and form. Modern contemporary style with reflective metal, coloured clippings, minimalistic. Lower maintenance gardens using resin bound gravel, hard landscaping, very little in the way of flowers. Wildlife garden, wild flowers which can prove very difficult to maintain, or a themed garden.

It is very important to select the right plants for the soil, soil testing should be first priority.On visiting any garden centre for the first time, the golden rule is take no money, but arm yourself with a notebook and pencil and ask lots of questions.

Write down the full botanical names, don’t worry about the pronunciation.  Clay soil takes longer to warm up but holds heat and nutrients, but cannot be worked when it is wet. Remember, work out how much space you have, do not pick plants which will outgrow your garden.Marion advised us as to the best plants to grow to suit various conditions, all of this advice illustrated by a very informative slide show. We all know now where we have been going wrong, no excuses now not to have a dream garden.

Angela thanked Marion for such an informative talk.

The competition for a buttonhole in any medium was won by Sally with lavender and Polyhymnia, second Pat Maddaford with camellia, third Angela with osteospermum. The flower of the month was won by Trish with chionodoxa.

Trish welcomed back Patricia Heap after a long absence and also two visitors.

Dates to Remember

18 April Group Spring Meeting at Shapwick.

18 July Visit to Midelney Manor House with cream tea.

26 May Celebration of Votes for Women & SFWI 12 noon to 3.30 pm Meadway Hall Compton Dundon with Ploughman’s Lunch, Entertainment £7.50.

We were reminded that visitors are to pay £4 per visit with visits restricted to two per year.

Next month’s Speaker is Yvonne Bell, Hobble Skirts and Harem Pants.

Wendy Edwards.