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The Women's Institute

Fetes and parties

A summer fete soon became an established part of village life. At their fete on 20th July 1920 they planned to have a stall selling their work, a sweet stall, to raffle an iced cake and to do teas. There would also be a roulette table, a Village Pump, whatever that was, nine pin bowling and a competition for the children which was to be a collection of wild flowers. In 1923, the third fete to be organised at the Manor, there was a bowling competition, where the man’s prize was a pig, and the woman’s prize, a tea-service. The ‘Striking the ham blindfold’, unfortunately with no explanation attached, was won by Mr Blowing. A plot of land was set out for a treasure hunt where contestants had to dig for treasure, though one person failed to claim their prize. Mr W. Haynes’ band played for dancing and Climo and his troupe gave a concert in the evening from all of which they raised £50 for church funds. A list of winners of some of the races for one year survives, unfortunately undated but likely to be 1936 since one of the races is called the ‘Coronation race’. There were two which we can be sure were running races: the spoon and marble race, presumably the same as the egg and spoon race, and the hundred yards flat race. What exactly the Coronation race was, there is no way of telling but the winner was Miss Phillips and there were 18 people who took part. The teaspoon and peas competition sounds as though it must have been a game of skill, the aim being to get the peas from one container to another with the aid of pins: there were 35 peas to be moved. Good use was made of peas again in the ‘teaspoon and peas’ race won by Mrs Morby . The ‘candle and potato’ race may have involved pushing the potato with the candle over a set course. Not too long, one hopes, for the sake of the participants’ backs!

At the 1924 Christmas event, Miss Stace offered her house for use as a cloakroom for Marston WI members. She also agreed to make paper hats for everyone out of crinkled paper, one of which would conceal a lucky number entitling the owner to a prize. That year the December party held at the Manor had to be postponed because the household was in quarantine caused by an outbreak of measles.

They were always on the lookout for games to play at their socials. Mrs Clinkard suggested eating biscuits blindfold, while one of Mrs Buchan’s ideas was to try to eat jelly with skewers. Other games they played were Musical Arms, Musical chairs or cushions, egg and spoon race, guessing six articles in an envelope, and a treasure hunt.


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