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Local Directory

All Stretton Womens' Institute

Tel: 01694 722325


All Stretton Women’s Institute -  A brief history

 There has been a very active W.I. in the village since 1951, when in January of that year a formation meeting was held, chaired by Miss Anthoney, a member of the County Organisation Committee. The meeting was addressed by Mrs Osmond (later Lady Osmond), the Voluntary County Organiser, on the aims and objectives of the W.I. movement, and it was established that meetings of the All Stretton Women’s Institute would be held in the evening of the third Tuesday of each month at the recently built Village Hall – an arrangement which still continues.  A Committee of twelve was appointed; the new Committee elected officers under the Presidency of Mrs. I. Clarke, and it was agreed that the minimum age of members would be sixteen.  Forty-six members were immediately enrolled.  

At the first full meeting of the new branch of the W.I., no fewer than seventy-one women were present, and when in March the number rose to seventy-five, it was decided by the Committee that a limit must be made to those `living within the boundaries of All Stretton as laid down by the U.D.C. map, and in Lower Wood.’  Nevertheless by April membership stood at 101, but in June the N.F.W.I. approved the bye-law: `that in future, applications for membership will only be considered from women living within the Parish boundaries of All Stretton.’   

ASWI, as it came to be called, then launched into its first year of meetings, when a range of practical domestic skills was demonstrated and learned – floral art, pastry making and fruit preserving, the making of lamp shades, slippers and gloves as well as dressmaking, soft toys – and the inevitable jam! There were outings, too, to Cadbury’s factory at Bournville, to Wedgwood China, to Attingham Park, and to the Festival of Britain, during that first year.  Furthermore the membership raised money with a `Fancy Fair’ and was able to present the Village Hall Committee with £40 – half of the proceeds.  

As has been seen, the membership was a very energetic one, and in 1953, ASWI also began producing pantomimes, the first being Cinderella, written by Rosaleen Whately.  After three very successful annual productions, local residents took up the idea and formed the Amateur Dramatic Society, which has continued the annual panto ever since, with ever-increasing fame and success: but it should always be remembered that it was the All Stretton Women’s Institute which began what is now a popular tradition in the village.  

In the following year, 1954, ASWI sent a speaker – Mrs. Hannah Whately - to the AGM at the Albert Hall, with a resolution deploring the lowering moral tone of the Press. Her report of that occasion records the presence of Her Majesty the Queen Mother at the meeting.  

ASWI provided the funding for the sturdy timber bus shelter which was built near the Stretton Hall Hotel.  It was officially opened in July 1957 by ASWI’s `godmother’, Mrs. Osmond, and cost £182.  By 2011, however, it was becoming `tired’ and was replaced by the current shelter, sympathetically designed to imitate the original.  

Another activity, which began during the earlier years and continues today, is our annual event, when we host a number of disabled guests for an afternoon of tea, chat and entertainment, called our Helping Hand party.  This is always greatly enjoyed by guests and hostesses alike.  

In the ensuing years, as with all WI’s, activities have gradually changed to reflect the changing roles of women; also, numbers have fluctuated.  So much so that, in May of 1996, the bye-law of 1951 was rescinded, membership was opened to all, and monthly attendances now are at around 26.  

ASWI boasts a forward-thinking Committee and membership, which works to provide a lively and interesting programme of Speakers and activities, while keeping the ideals of the Movement as our goal.  Visitors are made very welcome to an Institute that boasts a particularly warm friendliness and hospitality, situated as we are in a famously scenic part of rural England.  


Ann Ashworth
Autumn 2011