A timeline of Wymondham Bridewell WI to be remembered

Headline events are noted here, plus there are many more photograph albums that you should also view! Why not request those Albums at a WI meeting?

Our Presidents

Mrs Margaret Cross1966 - 1969
Mrs T Cross1970
Mrs Pauline Nicholls1971
Mrs T Cross1972
Mrs Margaret Cross1973 - 1974
Mrs M Sheldrake1975 - 1977
Mrs Hazel Groves1978
Mrs A Wigney1979
Mrs Elizabeth Portsmouth1980 - 1983
Mrs Jill Lamb1984 - 1986
Mrs Ann Smith1987, 1988
Mrs Ann Scott1989 - 1990
Mrs Pauline Nicholls1991 - 1993
Mrs Elizabeth Portsmouth1994 - 2005
Mrs Barbara Wake2006 - 2011
Mrs Maureen Bay2012 - 2015
Mrs Barbara Wake2016 - 2021
Mrs Claire Drake2022


Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic continued into 2021. However, vaccination programmes were provided via the NHS and those who took the (free of charge) vaccinations received a Covid Card with the batch details of the Covid vaccinations received, and there were stickers to display vaccination status.

However, 'lockdown' meant meetings were cancelled in accordance with the Government rules.


Everything changed this year: A serious Covid-19 Pandemic meant the country went into lockdown twice, the NHS treated many people, and the death rate became alarming. The East of England had lower rates of infection than many other UK areas. Government regulations introduced meant the introduction of Social Distancing.  Meetings and parties of more than 6 people, socially distanced, were permitted between the lockdowns. This meant there could be none of the regular monthly WI meetings held around the country, and in Wymondham we had 50 members.  So, meetings held via internet sites such as Zoom.us started to spring up across the WI.  Regular newsletters were distributed via email (and postal deliveries to those without digital connections) to give everyone a view of WI and other Wymondham topics.  We also had an online FaceBook site with links to Norfolk WI and plenty of local news, such as Wymondham Medical Centre updates.

The committee regularly met via Zoom, Barbara Wake was the President, Jan Gray our Treasurer, and Gloria Swann, our Secretary.


The Federation Website has many layers: NFWI/Federations/WIs. There is a regular monthly News page for Norfolk Federation along with many other useful WI links.

Our WI had a representative on the Get Comfortable Online (GCO) team, Sue Edes, who assisted our members with accessing social media (FaceBook) and other internet sites, with small groups of members each month.  Other members attended digital group tutorials at Evelyn Suffield House with topics such as Mobile Phones, Buying & Selling Online, and many other useful tutorials.

2019 marked the Centenary of the Norfolk Federation with fabulous garden parties, church services and events across the year. Find Photos and information for the Norfolk Centenary here .

The Eastern Daily Press marked the publication of the book 'Wymondham & District' in January 2019 and here's a snippet from that Paper.  (See our 2018 for more details on where to find the WI in that book)


Our members now meet at the RC Church Hall, and in a newly published book by Stacey Armes' and Ryan Watts: "Wymondham & District Through Time " they included a section of the Wymondham WI 'then and now'.  The WI ladies appear on page 51, there's a photo from 1965 and another taken for this book, in 2018.  We were grouped together outside the Catholic Hall for Ryan's photoshoot of us all.

Here is a link to that book: ON SALE IN JARROLDS

Wymondham and District Through Time book cover

Extract from the above book:

The Women's Institute in Wymondham

Wymondham Afternoon WI formed in 1919 and are pictured in 1965, with President Mrs W Corston, at their final meeting in the timber-framed WI Hall.  The 'temporary' structure saw both world wars as a hospital and an army billet, also hosting dances, dinners and shows from 1927. Houses now sit on the site by Vimy Ridge, and the Afternoon WI closed in 2013 - but Wymondham Bridewell WI are still going strong after fifty-two years, pictured here at their current venue, the Parish Hall by the Catholic Church - also on Norwich Road.

Memories from Pauline and Hazel (our founder members)

In 2018, we have two founder members still with us, Pauline Nicholls and Hazel Groves.  When the WI was founded in 1966, the majority of members were in their late twenties/early thirties with young children; now in our 51styear the age range is 40 to over 90 years.

We have enjoyed a good social life and organised Dances to include our husbands who were always available to help with the heavy work involved in the Town Carnival, Markets stalls and many local activities.  Dressing up is always popular.  We enthusiastically became part of the 1978 pageant in the main ring when we made and wore the national dress of the Windward Islands. A photograph of the Duke of Kent speaking to one of our children appeared in the local paper.  We organised short courses to improve our talents in many subjects including cookery, flower arranging, and art and regularly supplied Priscilla Bacon Lodge with fresh cakes for visitors to enjoy with patients.

A tree was planted in Wymondham Abbey grounds and a clock was presented to the town museum.  Local surgeries have been provided with paintings for the waiting rooms and a bench for outside use.  We have taken part in archery instruction, walking, competition golf, bowls and Scrabble.  Members enjoy occasional lunches including our annual Christmas lunch, and we have our own choir to entertain us on special occasions such as our Bring and Share supper at our Birthday meeting. Our Kett Group meetings enable us to meet our fellow members and we regularly invite visitors.  As part of the Inspiring Women year we presented a local Sixth Former with a book token to help with her expenses as she enters Further Education.

We look forward to many more years of friendship and laughter.

Here's the publication in Norfolk WI News Magazine:

2017 Our 50th Birthday Party

50 years of Wymondham Bridewell needed a special celebration party!

50th Anniversary Certificate

Members received engraved pens to celebrate the 50th Birthday showing 'Wymondham Bridewell WI 1966 - 2016" in gold.


A flying start

An Annual Bursary to mark the WI's cenetenary and reward an inspiring young woman has been launched by Wymondham Bridewell WI, Norfolk Federation. The bursary, worth £100, was awarded to Bethany Palmer, a sixth former at Wymondham HIgh Academy. She can spend it on furthering her education or on a community project.

The WI worked with the school to select a deserving recipient. Member Jill Lamb said "Bethany's a charming girl who excels academically and also in doing her community work."

Bethany took A Levels in Psychology, Biology and Sports and completed an extended project on Alzheimer's disease; she will study Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire.

"I will use the bursary for text books and other resources," said Bethany, "I would like to thank the WI for this award. As a volunteer [at an Alzheimer's cafe] I never expected to receive anything - I was just doing what I enjoyed."

Jill said: "The school will help fund the bursary but it's a great way of getting the WI known by young people in the process."

(Published in WI Life, October 2016)


JULY 2016: Jan Gray's winning entry for "Plants in a Basket" at the annual Garden Party.  The winning entry photograph was entered in the Norfolk WI Competition.

2015 Wymondham Carnival

A very hot summer's day brought the residents and shopkeepers of the town out to cheer the Walking Carnival on its way, starting at the Library, along Back Lane, and up through the town to the Market Cross.  Here's our WI team with a farming theme.

The WI Bowls Trophy was won by Jan Gray (skip) , Sue Springall (lead) and Liz Cockerill (2nd), having competed over many years.


Our delicious Afternoon Tea celebrations of the Women's Institute Centenary at Bawdeswell GC. Note the plates were soon emptied of those super cakes!

2014 marked the return of Wymondham Carnival after a hiatus of 20 years, in the form of a walking pageant.

The theme of Wymondham-on-Sea was quickly taken up by the WI members, they created walking beach huts, fishes caught in nets, and Rita the recycled pink octopus!


The Norfolk & Norwich Horticultural Society Spring Show; The Col J H Cator Challenge Cup 2013

'A Season' subject: Winter


Jams & Jerusalem: Getting into the spirit in the town. Every one a winner: delicious jams from our WI!


Another busy year, with the presentation of 17 handcrafted blankets to the happy residents of a local Care Home.

Presentation of a Seat to the new Windmill Surgery by WI Members

2004 Royal Norfolk Show entry

'Spot goes to the Farm' - what a success!


Wymondham's New Health Centre opens on Postmill Close in August

Three pictures were presented to the Health Centre in October by the WI members


Visit to Anglia Television 'Heirlooms'

Presentation of Clock & Plaque to Wymondham Heritage Museum

1996 Sports & Games

The Norfolk Federation Golfing Day at Dereham brought home the Shield for the best handicap player, once again, Mrs Barbara Wake of Wymondham Bridewell WI with a score of 92-17-75.

1995 Visit to Denman College

1994 Wymondham Carnival

The Mad Hatter (aka Hazel Groves) in full costume

1993: 75 years of Norfolk Federation

The Norwich Cathedral Thanksgiving Service was held on 6th May

Also held at the Royal Norfolk Show in July 1993 was 'The Pageant':

July 1992

Wymondham Bridewell WI exhibition at the Bridewell Open Day


Fun with a Fiver (£5): Peggy Mapes and Barbara Wake clean members' shoes!


The 25th Anniversary of the WI was marked with an Anniversary Dinner. The first President, Mrs Margaret Cross, presented a Cup to commemorate the occasion. The cake was made by Mrs Elizabeth Portsmouth, beautifully iced by Mrs Elizabeth Cockerill, and cut by Mrs Pauline Nicholls (Current President) and Mrs Margaret Cross (1st President)

This beautiful cross stitch card signed by 62 Members was created by Jan Spurgeon.

Special raffles and a coffee morning helpedmpay expenses of the event.  After looking through the scrapbooks and photos of the past 25 years, and catching up on news from old friends, members enjoyed coffee and sweets before departing for home.

1990 Flower Festival at Wymondham Abbey

The Flower Festival celebrated 75 years of the WI in Norfolk. All the flowers were arranged by members from all over the County.

"The WI continues to flourish because it combines tradition with progress, showing adaptability, vision and self-confidence from the past to the future."

Thanks were given to the Rev John Barnes and his staff in the Abbey Church, and those connected wtih the services to the Church for their co-operation, especially the PCC.

Thanks were also due to the Choir, bellringers and organists who entertained during the Festival, helping to make this a memorable occasion for all who have come as visitors.



'First Women's Institute Fair could be repeated' The Mercury, October 1987 report:

Crafty ideas draw crowds

The first ever craft fair organised by Wymondham Bridewell WI last week was an unqualified success - and it is hoped to repeat the idea.

The idea of the Fair was not only to show the public what the WI can do but to raise funds to be shared between the Town Green Day Centre and the WI's headquarters at Evelyn Suffield House, Norwich.

A steady stream of people flowed into Abbey Hall to see all sorts of crafts from soft toys to a variety of cooking skills.

One member was demonstrating how to make sponges in seven minutes using a microwave. The finished products sold like hot cakes. People snapped them up as fast as she could make them.

Also in the foor line, bread rolls were being made and at another stand a speciality German cheesecake proved popular.

In the craft section, silk flower making, soft toys and an unusual liquid embroidery technique were demonstrated. Fun badges were on offer as well as a variety of knitted products.


Mrs Jenny Lysons, of Talcolneston, attracted a great deal of interest by showing her display of homemade Christmas crackers - indeed, crackers for every occasion including Golden Weddings! Her display also included beautiful paper sculptures.

President, Mrs Ann Smith, said "The evening proved very popular. I had several people ring me the following morning to say how much they had enjoyed it. We have never done this before and hope to repeat it again."


1969 saw Mrs E M Bowden, treasurer of Wymondham Afternoon WI, unveiling the new Town Sign to mark the golden jubilee of the movement. Left is Mr G H Marwood, chairman of Wymondham UDC who received the sign on behalf of the town on 31 July 1969.

The WIs of Wymondham

There have been other Womens Institutes in Wymondham:

  • Northfield Gardens WI
  • Wymondham Afternoon WI
  • Wymondham Bridewell WI (Evenings)


Formation of the Wymondham Bridewell WI

With grateful thanks to Wymondham Afternoon WI, Wymondham Bridewell was formed on a November evening in 1966.  Mrs Corston, President, and Mrs Marriage, Vice President of the afternoon WI, together with a VCO helped us to form a Committee and gave us £10 to start us on our way.

Here are the original Constitution & Rules