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Welcome to Barford WI


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(December 2021)

Our November meeting was our A.G.M. when the existing committee was re-elected. Jacqueline Norton, Angela Watkins and Sheila Barclay remain as the officers. The evening was rounded off by a splendid supper prepared by Phil Derbyshire.

Tickets for the New Year dinner at Alderson House on Thursday 6 January 2022 are available from Angela. The cost for a 3 course dinner with drink is £30. County Quiz sheets are also available from Angela.

The next meeting on 2nd December is a talk by Francesca Marchetti about Midlands Eye Care.

Then, on 13th January 2022, we will have a fun evening with a Beetle Drive and canapés.

Meanwhile, the sun continues to shine on our Wednesday Walking Group! During October we have walked around the Leamington Parks, along the River Leam from Newbold Comyn to Victoria Park, taking in the exhibits at the East Lodge Art Gallery along the way. We also returned to Hatton Locks for another towpath walk, this time towards Warwick.

Hilary Maynard


The WI have had a busy September starting with the annual quiz night. With an unusual selection of questions and a ploughman’s supper, the evening was a great success, raising £700 for the funds.

We also had a pantry stall at the School Fete selling all kinds of goodies which raised £167, half of which will go to the school.

At the October meeting, we were expecting a talk about glass making but our speaker Di Vernon had other ideas and spoke about her life as a blacksmith.

Formerly a midwife and having a hobby in glass making she then decided that she would take courses in this unusual choice of work and is now resident blacksmith at Middleton Hall where she does demonstrations.

Di is an engaging, amusing and very entertaining speaker, showing with pride the tools she has made and explaining the arts of welding, riveting and forging. She recently discovered that there were many blacksmiths amongst her ancestors and that St Brigid of Ireland is the patron saint of midwives and blacksmiths.

Hilary Maynard


Eight members from Barford enjoyed an evening walk along the River Avon in Stratford from the Fisherman's Car Park where the River was busy with paddle boarders, boats and swimmers.

Betty Woodcock pointed out the site of the excavation of what is thought to be a Roman military burial site on the opposite bank of the river.

We crossed Bridgefoot and continued along the banks of the river to the weir, crossing over to the other bank at Holy Trinity Church through the park where the new open air theatre at the RSC has been erected.

We stopped for much needed refreshment at York's cafe in town. On the final stretch back to the car park we were distracted by a cygnet which appeared to be in difficulty on the road. Apparently not - a local chap tucked the bird under his arm and told us that it parked itself there twice a day waiting for gullible tourists to feed it!

Our President Jacqueline Norton welcomed members for the very first regular meeting since the first lock down. Sadly Covid is still causing problems with our meetings as this month’s speaker was unable to come due to having to self isolate.

Undaunted, members enjoyed a social evening with a glass of fizz and a couple of rounds of bingo but mostly we enjoyed a chat amongst ourselves.

We can look forward to next month when the speaker Di Vernon will tell us about Glass Crafting. Items will be for sale which might make suitable Christmas presents. Please join us on 7th October at 7.45pm in the Memorial Hall. You will be made very welcome and hopefully our speaker will be there.

Hilary Maynard


At last, after 18 months of being unable to meet in the hall our members were able to get together for a lovely evening, chatting to friends we hadn’t seen for so long. We had a lovely meal provided by Hilary Rhead and her team and then we were entertained by Margot McCleary with sketches, stories and poems. The best part of the evening was just being together again.

One of our members, Stella Rutherford, had had a big birthday during lockdown so, belatedly, she was presented with her celebratory bouquet by President Jacqueline Norton. Also, Phil Derbyshire won the Rose Bowl with her lovely corsage.

The walking group have been out and about again to Ufton Nature Reserve where they spotted lots more bee orchids. It must have been a year when the weather conditions were just right for this unusual flower. They also saw butterflies, moths, deer, and found the view from the White Hart, high above the Warwickshire countryside, quite spectacular.

Next month we shall be in the hall again for a talk by Roger Butler on the ‘Magic of Morocco’.

If you are new to the villages and would like to find new friends, do come along on 2nd September at 7.45pm. You will be sure of a warm welcome.


Nine members of Barford WI stepped out for our first walk last week. We all enjoyed a walk around the very rural village of Walton, ending the afternoon with tea and coffee in the courtyard café in the grounds of Walton Hall.

It was a real opportunity to meet up with other members for a chat at last while enjoying some gentle exercise.

Next walk will be Wednesday 14th July and fortnightly thereafter. All members welcome - contact Sheila Malin or Sheila Barclay for details.

Our proposed Members Night in the Memorial Hall had to be postponed due to the Covid restrictions not being lifted and as there was no plan B, we reverted to the tried and tested picnic on the Village Green with a few less members than before.

Members Night will now take place in the hall on August 5th with the same arrangements as before.

Tickets are free and available from Angela Watkins.

JULY 2021

On a glorious sunny lunchtime in May, one of the few in the month, 21 Barford W.I. ladies met on the village green for a picnic. By the time we left the clouds had built up and we had a thunder storm so we were very fortunate.

Another picnic lunch was held on June 3rd when 14 members enjoyed a chat with their friends.

The July meeting will be Members Night in the village hall with a fork supper and a welcoming drink and entertainment by Margot McCleary entitled Velvet Glove. Bring your own bottle and an entry for the corsage competition. There is no charge for the meeting but it will be by ticket only, available from Angela Watkins.

This is plan A. At the time of writing there is no plan B if the lock down regulations are not eased by the government on June 21st but you will be informed about this by email.

Don’t forget to contact Sheila Malin or Sheila Barclay if you want to join the walking group.

Hilary Maynard

JUNE 2021

By now, hopefully, members will have enjoyed a picnic on the Village Green if the weather has been kind to them and it seems likely that we will have another in June as we will not be able to use the Hall until the end of the month. However plans are afoot for a really good Members Night in July in the Hall with a speaker, so that is some normality to look forward to.

For our April event, fifteen members joined a Zoom session when Julie Mitchell enlightened us about Tai Chi. She told us how she became a Tai Chi instructor and explained the variations of this art and the benefits to health and well being.

We were able to follow her instruction to do simple movements to get a general taste of this ancient martial art. There were no difficult moves which might hurt so it was a very suitable exercise for us older ladies.

Hilary Maynard

MARCH 2020:

At our March meeting Clare Sawdon gave an interesting talk about her year as High Sheriff of Warwickshire, who is the Queen's representative in legal matters for the county. She described the outfit she has to wear to official events and some of her duties at special occasions. She experienced visits to two local prisons and also charities which helped disadvantaged families and youngsters who are too old to still be in the care system and needed support. Clare had a very interesting year but also an expensive one as High Sheriffs pay their own expenses.


At our February meeting, Ken Hope gave an interesting talk about the history of Edward Greaves M.P. who lived in Watchbury House during Victorian times. He was a very wealthy man who wanted the biggest house in Barford so he extended, what had been, a modest farmhouse into a very large mansion complete with extensive landscaped gardens, orchards and an ice house. Some years later the house was subdivided into three residences. Mr Greaves was responsible for moving the toll house from the Stratford Road in Warwick and relocating it to the lodge in Church Lane, Barford.

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What is the WI?

Barford Wl, together with others in Warwickshire, forms the County Federation (WFWI) which in turn integrates with other counties to form the National Federation (NFWI). Barford meets eleven times a year, on the first Thursday of the month from 7.45pm until around 10:00pm. At eight of these meetings we organise a speaker, from a wide range of interests, sometimes accompanied by slides or a demonstration. In May we have a meeting to discuss Resolutions usually with a social, health or rural theme. The result of our vote goes forward to the Annual National Meeting in June. In July we hold a social gathering hosted by a member in their garden, weather permitting. This a fun evening - maybe a quiz - with food and wine. The evening which is run by members allows the committee to relax.


In November we have our Annual Meeting when the President and committee are elected for the coming year. As the committee organise all the events and business of the Barford Wl, there are many other smaller roles available for the members to take on.


The evening commences with a short business meeting foHowed by the speaker. Afterwards coffee and tea are served by members whose names are shown in the programme.


During the year we organise various events to raise money for the benefit of the local community. There is also the opportunity to attend lunches and suppers with other local WIs, as well as joining for example outings, holidays and lectures.


The National Federation publishes the Home and Country magazine. The Warwickshire Federation publishes a County News Sheet providing information on local events that you may wish to attend.

Denman College

NFWI has its own residential adult education college, Denman, a lovely Georgian mansion in Oxfordshire. Courses are held in a wide range of interests including sports, country pursuits, arts and crafts, drama, music, not forgetting the domestic subjects. Every alternate year Barford Wl offers a bursary for a member to attend a course at Denman College. Details and date of the next meeting will be found on the Village Notice Boards and this website.


On May 8th 1919 a group of Barford ladies got together to form one of the first WIs in the county following its national formation in 1918. A committee was formed from among the wealthier members of the village but the group was open to ladies from all walks of life. Soon there were over 100 members, this being a time when life revolved around the village and access to entertainment outside the village was difficult.

Over the years and particularly during World War ll the WI has been a leading force for good in the village, campaigning for improvements in village facilities such as a modern sewage system and road improvements. During the war they canned and made jam from surplus food and provided knitted comforts for the troops. They provided a rest centre for refugees from the bombing in Coventry and helped with evacuees.

The original aims of the WI were to entertain, educate and form a fellowship amongst the members. These continue to be the main criteria of today's WI, but with modern aspects such as websites and emails aimed at the modern woman who may be working full time, a thing almost unheard of when the WI was first formed!

Our WI now has over 60 members and still offers village women a companionable meeting place once a month in the Memorial Hall. It also has a couple of sub- groups, the Book Club and Lunch Group. Our meetings usually include speakers who cover all subjects followed by refreshments and time for a chat. We also aim to support members who are ill or in difficulty, thus continuing the fellowship aspect of the original WI.

Barford Heritage Group

The Barford Heritage Group website has a page showing some of the history of Barford WI.

Click here to visit.

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