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

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