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……..watch 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.