Brook Women's Institute

In June 1933, fifty years after the Reading Room was built, Brook Women’s Institute (WI) was formed and went from strength to strength, meeting at the Seely Hall for 25 years. By the 1960’s Brook WI also embraced the neighbouring villages of Mottistone and Brighstone.

Thirty-two ladies from Brook and the surrounding district joined and Miss Emily Seely, daughter of Gen. Jack Seely, became its first President. The Rector’s wife became secretary and the local schoolmistress looked after the finances.

During the early years of the Institute's life the Second World War was declared and members were asked to keep everything going. They preserved food, canned fruit, collected rose hips and herbs, knitted for the service men and collected clothes for people in bombed areas - so helping the hospital supply depot. Tea parties and games were given for local children in the Rectory garden.

After the war, membership increased and Brook became a very busy Institute. Brook W.I. members supported local, county and world issues and voted against anything detrimental to our world. Members enjoyed talks on many subjects ranging from ‘Design for Living’ to ‘Smuggling,’' Home Nursery' and 'Travelling Abroad.' 

They raised money for many causes, including their piano fund and curtains for the Seely Hall. They sewed bedspreads for people in the home for the blind and flowers were picked and sent to London hospitals. Visits were made to the residents of Pitt Place, a local home for the elderly.  

The ladies learned many skills from the talks and demonstrations given at their meetings and extra classes. There are records of painting, dressmaking, basketry, glove-making and a recorder group. Their skills in needlecraft and cookery enabled them to take part in exhibitions across the Island. Reading through the records shows us how resourceful and gifted members were in entertaining themselves and others at meetings.

At the same time the Institute was not insular. Members were in contact with the Country Women’s Association in Australia and New Zealand and supported local, county and world issues. They discussed and voted against anything they felt was detrimental to the good of the World. Two members served on the County Federation Executive, and several on County sub-committees.

By the 1960s Brook and Mottistone WI also embraced the village of  Brighstone and one of the enduring reminders of those days is the fascinating Village Scrapbook made by members in 1958. The Scrapbook is handwritten and beautifully illustrated, it includes the history of the area and members’  memories of the old days (see article on the Scrapbook).

Sadly the Brook W.I. was suspended in October 1989.

A Typical W.I. Meeting

Welcome from the President.

Minutes of the last meeting.

Finance.

Correspondence.

Any other Business.

Demonstration or Talk.

Teas.