Friday, 18 March 2016

Nocton and District WI

Nocton WI AGM

Well it may have been the A.G.M. but the March meeting of Nocton and District WI was far from dull and dry. There was an almost full turnout of members with the usual buzz of chat and friendship within the room. The main business matters for the evening included the election of the committee members for 2016/17. Sheila received a majority vote to remain as President, Jacky is to remain as secretary, Vee as programme secretary, Jane as media and publicity, and Francis, Ann and Maryann as valued committee members. Jenny has stood down as a committee member and treasurer and we were all very pleased to welcome Babs to take her place. As a show of appreciation for all her hard work Jenny was presented with a card and beautiful orchid.

Jacky gave the annual report on our year 2015/16 which gave us all chance to reflect on how busy, varied, successful and enjoyable the WI centenary year had been for us.

The full programme of meetings for 2016/17 was given to every member present. It was discussed that as this year marks 70 years since there was first a WI in Nocton that there should be a celebration event which is likely to be an afternoon tea at Washingborough Hall as near to 4th July as possible.

Nocton and District WI will again be entering in the group class at this year’s Lincolnshire show and members were encouraged to look at entering as individuals in the wide range of classes available.
Barbara reported back from the recent Witham Group committee meeting as our representative regarding future meetings and events. She has also prepared a report from the 40th Annual meeting of the Lincolnshire North Federation of WI`s recently held in Skegness which she will present at the April meeting.

Nocton`s Easter Fair is being held in the village hall on Saturday 19th March and all members were encouraged to provide items to be sold on the stall. Janet, Jenny and Barbara volunteered to man the stall for us.

The final piece of business before the tea break was the presentation of the Ireson cup. This is presented every year to the WI member with the most points from the monthly competitions and for the first time ever there was a draw for both first and second place. The well deserved winners were Julie and Maria and as they are neighbours sharing the cup should not be an issue!

Ireson Cup winners

After our refreshment break Angela Riley gave an incredibly interesting talk about Corn Dolly’s. These date from Pagan times, the term Dolly deriving from the word idol. Corn Dolly’s are made around the world with Angela`s beautiful display showing examples from Poland, America, Wales and Ireland. The Inca`s with their “Sunspray” were the first to design and make these decorative items.

The origins of the Corn Dolly here came from harvest time when the corn was being cut and collected. It was believed that the spirits who lived in the fields and encouraged a good crop were frightened of humans so hid away in the corn. When the last sheaves were cut this would contain all the spirits and these sheaves were made into Corn dolly’s. Every home within the settlement received one and they were kept within the house through the winter months to bring warmth and food to the family. Come the spring when the new corn was being sown the dolly’s were dug back into the field thus returning the spirits to the field to help ensure another good crop that year.

Over time the design and reason for each dolly has developed with many of them being given as a love token or a marriage gift which often included a heart shape in the design or as a gift for a new home which often took the shape of a brush to clean out the old spirits to allow the new to enter to bring health, wealth and happiness.

Regions within the country often have similar shaped dolly`s with Northampton using the basic shape of a shoe and Somerset a Cider bottle or apple. Across Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire the shape is one of a chandelier with Lincolnshire’s being known as a Flycatcher. This chandelier has three spokes coming down to a ring and from this ring hang examples of every grain grown in the area. Although the design would be similar every village was slightly different and there would indeed be differences from family to family in the form the finished product took.

The ribbons attached to the dollies also signify different hopes or wishes; blue is for water, green for garden growth, yellow for sunshine, white purity and red love.

Corn Dollies

Angela then had the unenviable task of teaching us all how to make a Corn dolly. She recalled the tale of how the first task in her new job a few years ago had been to learn how to make a Corn Dolly in the morning and then use this knowledge in the afternoon to teach 50 five year olds the same skill. As each child had indeed taken home a Corn Dolly that day she assured us that we would all also be successful.

There then followed an enthralling twenty minutes or so of instruction and concentration which did indeed result in each and everyone one of us being able to take home our own version of a “Countryman’s Fancy”. Angela informed us that these would be made by the young men on their way to church or chapel on Sunday and then given to the young woman they wished to court and have as their sweetheart. When they returned to church the following week if the young woman was wearing the dolly over her heart it showed she accepted his courtship. If however it was in her hair or not present at all  this showed her refusal.

The competition for the evening was a handmade Easter card which brought a beautiful array of very different cards. Barbara won first prize with Maryann second and Sue third.

The raffle prize, a beautiful Thornton’s Easter egg was won by Lynne.

Aprils meeting is on the Monday 11th and is an open meeting with a talk from members of the National Trust entitled “The Workhouse Storytellers”. Everyone is welcome to come along; the business part of the meeting starts at 7.15pm with the talk due to start at 8pm. Come along and meet us or check out he website at

Jane Kania

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