Welcome to London West End WI

Friday, 28 February 2014

February: Campaigns and a tour


A reminder! Yes from next month the main meeting is on the third Wednesday but back in the Upper Vestry where we belong.

Another change for March is that we are trialing a new venue for the Craft Club, this will be in the Atlantis Book Shop on Museum Street. We will be asking for a small donation to help cover the room hire charge though we will be getting tea, a proper table and... Light!

Next we have two dates for your diary:

Ruth and her choir will be performing at St Clement Danes on Strand at 7:30pm on the 1st of March.

For those of you who have already asked for tickets for the Vikings community preview remember that our tickets are timed for 3:40pm on Sunday the 2nd of March, the plan is that we meet at the foot of the stairs to the reading room at around 3:20pm.

And finally... it's subs time, don't forget to pay!


Jenny introduced Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the National Federation of Women's Institutes Public Affairs Committee. Crikey, quite a title! She'd certainly travelled a long way from her home WI in Wales and was warmly welcomed. She'd also brought along Rachel Barber who is the NFWI Head of Public Affairs.

Marylyn Haines Evans
Marilyn opened by regaling her WI history which truly showed how important the organisation is to her and her family. Moving on we had a comprehensive explanation of how campaigns are chosen, the time scales and how campaigns never leave the books, so to speak. Of particular interest was a summary of some notable past campaigns, including her joking that we'd pre-dated Jamie Oliver by campaigning for better school meals in 1926.

The key message seemed to be that the WI is seen as a "big hitter" when it comes to campaigns and that real change has been achieved over the years. In short, the WI makes a difference.

St George's church talk and mini-tour

A man in his element
Pam introduced Frank Macey who would be imparting his knowledge as St George's top tour guide, he rather self deprecatingly pointed out he was also their only tour guide...

Pam's assertion as it turned out proved correct!

Frank opened with the story of how the church came about, its foundation being set around 1711 in the New Churches in London and Westminster Act 1710, also known as fifty new churches or Queen Anne's Churches. As it turned out the fifty were never built and St George's was the last of only 12 that came to fruition. Of the twelve there were six designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, sadly whilst the man was a fabulous architect - a former assistant and protégé of Wren - he wasn't so good when it came to finance so the costs rather overran. It was the description of Hawksmoor's experience that gave a clear insight to his extraordinary architectural lineage.

Hawksmoor windows.
Over the years the church has changed with the Victorian's making significant changes to the original design. They changed around the internal layout of the building as well as replacing the simple and plain glazing with stained glass by Clayton & Bell. Sadly though the church began to fall into disrepair and needed significant work. Fortunately the World Monuments Fund, along with Paul Mellon, stepped in to make sure that the work happened. During the renovations the building was changed back to the original layout, many of the windows were returned to how Hawksmoor envisaged them and the structural issues were resolved.

Frank certainly knows his subject, his enthusiasm and knowledge is both engaging and impressive. I for one will be making time in the summer months to actually go on one of his official tours. Can't wait!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fifty Squares, hurray...

The West End girls threw their all in to crafting squares to focus attention on the plight of the women and children refugees being held at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre. The effort began I'm earnest at our monthly craft club where Jane was on hand to help with the knitters whilst Jenny patiently taught those that fancied crocheting.

There were tears and laughter, cries of "how did I gain two stitches" along with a general consensus that whilst many of us hadn't picked up a pair of needles I'm years it was a fabulous reason to do so. But it didn't stop there.  In coffee shops and Soho nightclubs (yes, really), in trains or the underground, anywhere we could stop for a moment the knitting continued apace. We even had a willing volunteer in Scotland clicking away!

Ready to be sewn...
Finally, we have a pile of little squares that Jenny will be taking to Women for Refugee Women so they can be sewn together and turned in to a blanket that will be displayed at the Women of the World Festival.

Thank you to all that got involved, it's been a wonderful group effort!

And don't forget at next Craft Club we'll learn how to follow patterns. I can feel my tears of frustration welling already...

If you'd like to support the end of detention for women that seek asylum then please sign this petition and don't forget to visit the Women of the World Festival if you can!

Some of the *contributors:

  • Jenny
  • Jane
  • Jill Hurden
  • Emma Gerrard
  • Catherine RW
  • Mrs W
  • Victoria Stamps
  • KJ 
* I've only listed those that have so far said they are happy for their names to appear on our blog!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Knitted together - raising the voices of Yarl's Wood Women

The LWEWI is joining the Shoreditch Sisters WI and Women for Refugee Women (WRW) to create a Knitted Together Patchwork Blanket to be displayed at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre on International Women's Day, March 8th. We need knitted or crocheted squares, 10cm by 10cm, by our next meeting - sorry about the short notice! Jenny Anderson will collect them and send them to the WRW who will then sew them together.

Yarl's Wood detains people suspected of visa violations or illegal entry to the UK. They have often experienced rape and other forms of torture, and the conditions at Yarl's Wood have been described as a second torture. It is hoped this blanket will raise awareness of their conditions and action will be taken to alleviate them.

You can support this by signing the petition at: