The May meeting for Puckeridge WI was a little different to previous months as we dealt with the business aspects before our discussion for the evening, which was about the WI resolution. We had a report about the stall at the May Fair and further mentions of the various groups that are beginning to form. We welcomed some new members and we also had the important business of voting in a new treasurer. Following this June Smith our HFWI Adviser introduced the resolution for 2013 which is about the decline of the High Street.
Puckeridge High Street in the early 1900s
June began by telling us a little about the history of resolutions within the WI and explained that some of the previous resolutions have had a significant impact, focusing on important topics such as domestic violence, the labeling of food and the shortage of midwives. Proposed resolutions are discussed by local members in May, in order to be further discussed at the AGM which takes place in June. Resolutions often provide a good chance to learn about the wider issues surrounding the topic and this proved to be the case as we discussed the decline of the High Street in Puckeridge.
Members felt saddened that the loss of the high street often also means a loss of community but accepted the fact that it is difficult to shop in just one high street because of lack of variety and the difficulty of getting a pram into local shops. It was also felt that changes in society, especially technology, mean that people no longer have the need to visit the high street as shopping and banking can be done online. Despite this, the high street often offers better quality and lovely, individual, specialist shops. Puckeridge WI voted in favour of the resolution and although there was no real conclusion to our discussion, we will wait eagerly to see what happens next.
The evening continued with tea and cake, followed by a quiz prepared by Maureen and Jackie. There were 25 questions based on cooking, gardening, films, history and general knowledge. The winning team scored 23 out of 25. At the end of the evening, we were reminded that next month’s meeting will be about container gardening and there will be some plants available to buy – so do bring along some cash!
Puckeridge WI enjoyed a very sunny May Day in Standon at our WI stall. Raising funds was not the main aim but creating awareness and perhaps getting a few new members was what we wanted to achieve. Knowing that there would be a lot of competition to sell cake, we decided to give away our cake “bites” for free, offering visitors “a taste of the local WI”. We hope this didn’t upset local stall holders – it certainly didn’t upset our visitors who all commented on how yummy the cakes were (although some couldn’t believe they were getting something for nothing and were reluctant to taste!)
Our stall offered three games – guess the weight of the cake, guess the number of buttons in the jar and find Jess the Cat. All the games proved popular, although it was probably the huge chocolate cake that was most tempting.
Our volunteers were brilliant and it was a great chance to talk to local people. Some of our visitors were also from further afield and talked about their own local WIs or their memories of relatives who were WI members. There was a lovely atmosphere and it was a great way to introduce ourselves to the village. Our stall looked very pretty, thanks to our new banner and a collection of plates, tea cups and cake stands. We were lucky to be positioned next to Louise Crafty Guider who also happens to be our VP.
Thanks to everyone who baked, weighed cakes, counted buttons (over 3000!), hid Jess the Cat and served on the stall. The day was a great success and we look forward to welcoming our new members soon
The Puckeridge WI meeting on the 9th of April was the first meeting of the year with warmer weather and lighter evenings. The group met in high spirits looking forward to a talk from Julie Gregson, Head of Heritage Services at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS). The talk was called Treasures from the Archives and we really did see some very special items on the powerpoint slides.
Julie started by telling us something about the archive services which contains 30,000 books and 40,000 images. They are a specialist centre for researching local history, family history and other projects. Their collection, which is housed in 11 strong rooms containing five miles of shelving, attracts visitors from around the country.
Many of the oldest items in the collection are Royal Charters, detailing the land in Hertfordshire and which of the wealthy families at the time it would be given to. St Albans features regularly in these items and the group saw an example from 1553 which gave St Albans the right to vote for their own Mayor. The illustrations at the time, which decorated the charters, were clearly recognisable – we saw Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Edward VI. We also saw examples of royal signatures – Henry VIII was unreadable!!
The archives also holds a selection of maps, which are often considered works of art today but held a more practical purpose during the period, allowing land owners to keep track of the production across their lands. A household account book from Christmas 1637 was also particularly interesting in that it gave an insight into the running of the household at the time. For example, the family consumed 86 stone of beef, 246 eggs and 55lb of butter over the festive season.
Many more treasures were shared with the group (including Constabulary records which detailed crimes such as ‘stealing a pear’) but even more interesting were the stories that went with the items viewed, such as the story of Edward Grimston (1559), who escaped prison in France, dangerously travelled back to the UK only to be placed in The Tower for treason. However, perhaps the best part of the evening, which really got everyone talking, was the range of postcards which showed Puckeridge, Standon and surrounding areas. The images were mostly from the early 1900’s and the group were encouraged to share their memories and work out exactly what was being shown in the pictures. A follow up visit to the Archives to find out more about local history could be arranged if enough people are interested.
Following our speaker, Maureen led a quiz which consisted of 10 pictures from around the village. Each group had to name where the item pictured could be found. Only one group got 10/10 but most groups scored at least a respectable 7/10. It made us think about how much history there is in the village and how we all need to look around more to notice the interesting little details we sometimes miss in our hectic lives. The business section of the meeting was dealt with as swiftly as possible and many of the notices can be found in the last edition of the newsletter.