Community News

100 Not Out! Celebrating the first 100 Years of the Women’s Institute

By 2 August 2015January 26th, 2021No Comments

Singleton and East Dean Women’s Institute (WI) – the first WI to be formed in England –  will host this once in a lifetime event on Tuesday 8 September 2015 at the Museum.

We are pleased to welcome Janice Langley, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, who will attend the centenary celebrations.

100 Not Out will showcase everything that the WI does best, with activities running throughout the Museum site on this special day. WIs from West Sussex will create individual table-top displays in the Downland Gridshell building, each commemorating the year in which they were each founded.

Every WI in West Sussex is invited to apply for a table-top display – an application form is available to download from this page.

Deborah Harwood, owner of The Textile Space and winner of West Sussex Woman of the Year in Arts 2014, will be presenting ‘Creating a Sketchbook’, an inspirational seminar on how to start a sketchbook of creative ideas, thoughts and plans.

The WI’s enduring ethos is that of inspiring women and the ‘One hundred years of inspiring women’ display will feature the most inspiring women from each decade since the formation of the WI, as nominated by WI members – visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their own most inspiring women from each decade.

The Museum and the WI

The WI movement in Britain began in 1915 under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society (AOS). The AOS set up a Women’s Institute sub-committee, to which Lady Denman was appointed as chair.

The first English branch of the WI opened in Singleton, West Sussex, in November 1915. The original meeting place was a pub called The Fox at Charlton near Singleton and East Dean. The pub still exists today is now named The Fox Goes Free.

Sussex is also the oldest County Federation – formed in 1917, divided into West and East in 1919 – with its area covering rural areas from the South Downs to the coast. By 1917, 137 WIs had opened across Britain.

WI outing leaving from Singleton

WI outing leaving from Singleton

The Weald & Downland Museum and its local WIs have always had strong links – with ten local institutes contributing toward the founding of the Museum in 1967. The Museum is proud to play host to the WI’s centenary celebrations.

Visitors to the Museum can also enjoy our textile and historic cooking demonstrations around the site.

Tickets and how to participate

Tickets for WI members to attend the event are just £9 per person and must be booked in advance. Tickets are also available on the day, priced at standard admission – see the foot of the homepage for pricing details.

Individual WI members wishing to buy tickets are invited to call the Museum on 01243 811021 or email courses@www.wealddown.co.uk to book.

Group bookings should be made via WIs please. The admission fee covers full access to the Museum and our 40-acre site.