WI Newsletter – October 2011

It may well be the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, but for Abbotts Ann WI 2011 is positively sparkling at the moment!

In September Jeremy France explained to us the importance of the cut, clarity and colour of that much admired jewel and courtesy of Tim Tayler this month we heard all about Thomas “Diamond” Pitt, famous for his acquisition in 1701 of a 410 carat (82g) uncut diamond. He eventually sold it to the French Regent and it became one of the crown jewels of France.

Tim Tayler kindly shared with us 3000 years of Abbotts Ann’s history, whilst he didn’t bring a time machine with him we travelled at a speed of 100 years a minute, all without leaving our seats. We learnt all about how the village had been shaped, mainly by the way the land was farmed through the centuries.

The fortune of the aforementioned Thomas Pitt (grandfather of William Pitt the elder) enabled him to acquire property in the village. Also influential in the village was a blacksmith named Robert Tasker who is best known locally as the founder of the Waterloo Iron Works in Anna Valley, but for Abbotts Ann his achievements included starting the village school, where he insisted education should be for girls and boys and available to those without the means to pay, all this before this was made compulsory nationally. His great ally was Reverend Samuel Best who amongst many other initiatives started a Friendly Society in order to assist those in the parish falling on hard times, which became the model widely used nationally.

Only the day before our meeting the Hall had been the venue for our Halloween Coffee Morning – an event well supported and attended. Thanks were given to all members who had helped and it is hoped that the profit should be in excess of £200 which will be a great addition to our funds.

Later in the week our skittles team was in action in the annual Hampshire Federation event and despite being in the lead for most of the evening they eventually lost by two skittles to Longstock & Leckford who will go on to represent the Danebury Group in the next round of the competition.

October is always a busy month with Autumn meetings of the Group and Federation being held this month. Some of our members travelled to Thruxton to hear about the Great Bustard and others to Basingstoke to hear all that is on offer in Hampshire in the coming months. There are several events planned to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond (that word again) Jubilee. The guest speaker was Jennie Bond who spoke about her career as a journalist which had spanned some forty years, but of course what her audience wanted to hear about was her time following the Royal Family and they weren’t disappointed. She had some amusing anecdotes to recount, but her disappointment was that she never really got to know the Queen as a person.

No diamonds to speak about next month, but cheese, courtesy of Loosehanger Cheese – 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall if you wish hear what they have to offer.

Diary Dates:

01 November – Reading Group

12 November – Walking Group

24 November – Meeting 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall – Loosehanger Cheese

08 December – Meeting 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall – Christmas Entertainment

10 December – Walking Group

13 December – Reading Group

Sharon King