WI Centenary Events

wi centenaryThis post contains information about DFWI events and  follows on with a look at Biggin WI’s forthcoming contribution to its group centenary display of “tea through the ages” and I should warn you that some of the pictures may contain calories.

The Derbyshire Federation of Women’s Institutes has several events on the calendar to celebrate the DFWI’s centenary.  Here are the dates.  Costs and other information, including how to apply, to follow nearer the time.


6th March – Centenary Annual Council Meeting – The Winding Wheel Chesterfield.

13th April- Celebration Service, Derby Cathedral.

12th May – Showcase event – Chesterfield

19th June – Centenary walk – Ashover

4th July – Centenary Afternoon Tea – Chatsworth

2nd September – Holiday in Northern Ireland (5 nights 4* accommodation)

27th September -Variety Show – Winding Wheel Chesterfield

10th October – Centenary Lunch – Hassop Hal, near Bakewell.

20th October – Centenary Annual Federation Meeting, Trent College, Long Eaton.

4th November – Celebration Service, Tideswell (St John the Baptist)

12th December – Evening Reception in The Painted Hall in Chatsworth House followed by Festive Fayre in The Stables Restaurant.


Inspiration-The-WI-Rose-INSPIRATION-C--533x400I am sure that I shall become more confident about the spelling of centenary as the year progresses though I was rather more interested to discovered that when Yorkshire celebrated their centenary they invented a new fruitcake recipe and that there’s even a WI rose that made its debut in 2015.

Meanwhile the Biggin WI is thinking about its contribution to the group display for the Centenary Exhibition at the Winding Wheel on the 6th March.  Our allotted area is “tea during the 80s and 90s to the present” – Time to look in the back of cupboards for tea related stuff!

afternoon tea

We have some ideas including menus, cookery books (Delia for the 80s) as well as crockery  (remember when Portmeirion botanic china was all the rage?) I know that there are several ladies keeping an eagle eye on our local charity shops.  We need to have everything assembled by the 27th Feb.

Apparently afternoon tea occurs between 3.30 and 5.00 pm. It was invented by the Duchess of Bedford- who was troubled by hunger pangs in the afternoon.  The Ritz has been serving afternoon tea since 1906 and it still offers this treat (only £71.00per head  but there is a pianist who plays whilst you dine.)  Betty’s prides itself on being the “home of afternoon tea”  but has only been serving its culinary delights since the 1920s – I can sometimes be found with my nose against the window of Betty’s shop in either Harrogate, York or Ilkley admiring their confections as well as being tempted by a fat rascal so can assure readers of this blog that Betty’s has perfected the art of cake making.  Essentially cucumber sandwiches along with egg or cress sandwiches were the traditional approach – clearly best in triangles with no crusts; scones (obviously) and lets not get into the argument about whether or not the cream or the jam goes on the scone first; pastries and cakes – battenburg or Victoria sponge by preference if you were respectable.


Since the 80’s  the afternoon tea has grown-up into a full blown treat to be eaten at a lovely venue with a beautiful view and probably with a doggy bag tucked into your handbag to carry away the excess of calories.  Nowadays  cucumber sandwiches are not on the menu  though there are plenty of other choices. You might have brownies and traybake or meringues along with the cake and there’s usually some yummy sort of desert.  Scones aren’t always sweet either, these days you can have a savoury scone as part of the cream tea and there might be something fizzy to drink if its a very special treat.  The BBC Good Food website has 38 recipes that cover everything from choux buns to sausage rolls – research, it would have to be said, is not helping my diet.  It doesn’t help either that many of Derbyshire’s finest tea rooms market their afternoon tea with pictures of cake plates laden with tempting looking food  – though I am generating a list of places where we might like to go.  Chatsworth House apparently does a Wedgewood themed afternoon tea with blue macaroons delicately decorated with white icing – it’s not quite as expensive as The Ritz…

And now I’m off to weigh myself  – I think I’ve gained half a stone just reading about all those cakes and am no where closer to suggesting what we require for our contribution to the display – perhaps just a set of scales and a sign saying “I love cake.”









Biggin WI “brick”

The embroidered “brick” is now winging its way to Derbyshire House.  It will be interesting to see it alongside all the other bricks when the hanging is completed.


Our brick is mixed media – with fabric paints, embroidery and bead work.  Part of the design will be used for the cover of this year’s programme.

Next weekend (27-29 January) is the RSPB big birdwatch.  Apparently 500,000 people took part in last year’s birdwatch.


Click on the link to open a new window to find out more.  You can  download a pack as the response this year has been so overwhelming that the paper packs have gone.  The pdf packs are free to download but you do have to register on the website.  You can elect not to have any kind of mailing sent to you and it doesn’t cost anything. The website also has many ideas for enticing birds into your garden from bird cafes to setting up nest boxes.  Happy bird watching – think of me  next weekend in the kitchen with my mug of coffee counting the birds and keeping my fingers crossed that the wren and the gold crest who’ve been frequenting the feeder turn up rather than the peregrine falcon!



January 2018 – silhouettes and some very nice biscuits

14-10-2011 16;58;00.jpgIt was lovely to see everyone for Monday’s meeting and wasn’t it great that we won third prize in the federation prize draw? Fun raising seems to have taken off with the good news that our bring and buy after the AGM in November raised £70.00.

Thank you to everyone who remembered their subscriptions.  The brick is nearly ready to put in the post and the history of Biggin’s WI continues to grow.  Hopefully we will be adding a section to the website in due course as well as using some pictures of the finished image of the brick.

We considered where we might like to go in August with Lyme Park, Hardwick Hall and Tissington all getting a mention.  We would like to take a trip down Cromford Canal and there’re always the open gardens in Parwich at the end of June.

Our talk was about silhouettes: from royalty to the end of the pier.  Shades cut in paper or painted on glass, paper or porcelain were very popular during the eighteenth century. Catherine de Medici is the first monarch known to have sat for a silhouette, Marie Antoinette also posed and the British royal family not only posed for them but cut themselves making silhouettes a very fashionable thing to do. The image most of us have of Jane Austen is a hollow cut silhouette (a bit like a negative- the image is cut into the white background and then lined with coloured paper) made by her sister Cassandra. The other advantage was than anyone could make a silhouette if they had a light source, paper and a pair of scissor and that if you wanted one cut professionally it only took a few minutes and was the fraction of the cost of a portrait.  Over time and with the advent of photography, silhouette cutting became an end of pier entrainment but shades have never really disappeared from fashion and these days crafters can create them from die cuts.  It turns out that photoshopping images isn’t really that new at all – silhouettes could be trimmed to be more flattering than reality.

A number of us remembered one of Chatsworth House’s early Christmas displays using the silhouettes of Jan Pienkowski.  I even managed to find the photographs that I took in 2008 for this post:

During tea a number of ladies thought that it would be a good idea to have a go at cutting our own silhouettes whilst one or two others rather liked to sound of having a go at die cutting. Sounds like a plan to me!


  1. We are at the planning stage for our contribution to the Centenary display at Chesterfield in May.  Our theme is “tea during the 1970s and 80s.”  Do you have anything that we could use?
  2. Next month, February, we will be meeting for our delayed Christmas meal at Newton House at 7.00pm.  And don’t forget your secret Santa – or should that now be secret Valentine?
  3. If you didn’t vote for your choice  of 2018 resolution at our meeting in January it’s not too late to do so.  The voting slip is in the most recent WI magazine along with an outline of each of the proposed resolutions.


Speakers and Events 2018

keep calm and join wiBiggin WI has a full programme of speakers this year but there is always space for a trip to an open garden or for a cream tea!  In addition to our usual monthly meeting there will also be a Group Meeting on Tuesday 19th June which Biggin are hosting this year.  This post appears as a separate page on the website for future reference.  Hopefully the website will be more active this year!

8th January Silhouettes- from royalty to the end of the pier – Julia Hickey

12th February       Social Night –

12th March     Astrology and You –Robert Alan Haven

 9th April          Food Glorious Food – Kath Reynolds

14th May         Air Ambulance- Peter Corbett

11th June        Hong Kong- fragrant harbour – Rashelle Maltz-Jones


Tues 19th June Group meeting


9th July           Life as a diplomatic spouse – Gill Roberts

13th August             Trip

10th September  The Great Fire of London- Paul Newsham

8th October     Aloe Vera and Bee Pollen– Scarlett Williams  Open Meeting

12th November    AGM plus supper

10th December     Christmas Dinner

DFWI wall hanging – Biggin’s brick.

biggin brick wi 2The DFWI CENTENARY WALL HANGING PROJECT is a project to create a wall hanging.  The idea is that each group will contribute a “brick” to the hanging to celebrate 100years of Derbyshire Federation of WIs. The DFWI provided a rectangle of fabric. As a group we started with several ideas at the start of this January.

Ultimately we decided that we wanted to show different aspects of Biggin’s natural environment given that we live in the Peak National Part  and that Biggin Dale is part of a national nature reserve.  We began by handing the raw materials to Jennie, a very talented artist, who worked with fabric paints to create this stage of the “brick.”  Jennie had never worked with fabric paints before beginning this project and one of the difficulties was that the paint changed colour as she dried it with a hairdryer!

The next step is to embellish Jennie’s art with embroidery and beadwork – though we are all agreed it looks splendid as it is!

Making Biggin a digital WI

theWI_Logo_IW_RGB_2col-cropped-for-website-header    The National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has been online since 2000.  It’s website provides all sorts of useful information from the campaigns it’s currently running to training for its members and useful “how to guides” as well as the latest news about what’s on. There’s an official page about Biggin too but rather like this blog it’s only just starting to take shape.

Hopefully our presence on the official WI website – www.theWI.org.uk – will be finalised during the next couple of weeks. The WI website is designed to serve all WIs, and provides each one with its own pages, which act as a microsite within the website. The homepage features a WI postcode search tool that allows visitors to enter their postcode and find local WIs. This also means that existing and potential members are able to find WI pages quickly and easily…in theory.

It turns out that the  NFWI is everywhere: