Brook Women's Institute Scrapbook (1958)

One of the enduring reminders of the Brook WI is the fascinating village scrapbook made by members in 1958. Sadly the Brook W.I. was suspended in October 1989, perhaps due to the changing circumstances in the village.

 An entry in the 1958 Brook WI Scrapbook:

Another very rewarding activity is our work for the residents in the County Council Old Folks Home and Home for the Blind.  Two of our members visit them each month, taking flowers and magazines, and we send each of them a card on their birthday – the only message of greeting some of them receive.  Then, in the summer, we have a party to which they are all invited.  This is one of the highlights of our year – we certainly love having them, and they begin talking about next year’s party as soon as this year’s is over.  

We usually put on a show for them.  One year we staged a mock wedding for the ‘squire’s daughter’.  Set in Victorian times, it presented a colourful scene, with some of the guests in the costume of that period, including the faithful ‘nannie’, in starched white apron and cap.  ‘Relatives’ had come from all over the world to witness the ‘nuptials’ – from Japan, from Spain, from America, and even the ‘bride’s uncle’, who had come straight from his big-game-hunting in Africa - all in costume of course.  To complete the picture came the farm-hand, bearded and smocked, bowing and touching his fore-lock.

Another time, we had a ‘Country Fair’, complete with wandering ‘gypsy’ singers and dancers.  The members seem to love dressing-up, and one year we took part in a pageant at the Isle of Wight Agriculture Show.  Our scene depicted Harvest Home in olden times with the squire welcoming the last load.  The women reapers with aprons and sun-bonnets, and the farm-yokels in smocks and whiskers, carrying sheaves of corn, and a ‘corn dolly’, were each presented with a buttonhole of corn by ‘the lady from the big house’ dressed in a beautifully preserved dress of her grandmother’s, with tiny waist and stand-up collar.  She carried a fringed parasol to protect her beauty from the scorching rays of the sun.


But Institute life is not all play.  We have our serious side too.  Two of our members serve on the County Federation Executive, and several are on County sub-committees.

Each year, in the Spring we collect primroses, and send them to hospitals, where they are much appreciated.

We also have a ‘link’ with a Womens' Institute in New Zealand. Letters, information and presents are exchanged, and two years ago one of their members visited England, and came to see us.  Our then President, Mrs Ennals, entertained her for a few days, and we all met for tea in the Institute hall one afternoon.  This was a most interesting informal gathering, and provided a very personal link with our New Zealand counterpart.

It is interesting to note that our present President, Mrs Kindersley had been living in Malaya before joining us, where she was instrumental in helping to form the first Womens' Institute in that country.