The first official meeting of the St. Breward WI was on 13 July 1928. An attempt had been made to start some months earlier, but owing to lack of support it was decided to postpone the opening.

Mrs Dawe, the school master’s wife, had suggested this new branch and we believe the following members were the first committee :

Mrs Nankivell (President), wife of Mr William Nankivell, owner of Tor Down Quarry

Mrs Andrews, (Secretary), schoolmistress

Mrs Dunn

Mrs Hall, wife of Captain Hall, Lord of the Manor

Mrs S Hawken, undertaker’s wife

Mrs A Hawken

Mrs A Teague, wife of local mason

In later years, Mrs Hall recalled that, although she was a founder member and on the first committee, the work of the WI was “not really my cup of tea. Dressmaking and cookery are definitely not for me” she said.

The members of the new WI hastily put together a tableau for the St. Breward Carnival in August 1928. From the photograph their subject appears to be “Women of Many Nations”.

The first annual subscription was 1/6d (7.5p) per annum, and a cup of tea and a biscuit during the meeting was 1d.

They met in the Reading Room (the upper room of the Memorial Hall). Those privileged to be President, Secretary and Treasurer had the honour of sitting with their backs to the open fire, whilst ordinary members froze at the other end of the room!



That was 1928. Now in 2011, we can look back on the many changes and developments in the WI’s National Federation, our Cornwall Federation and in St. Breward WI itself.

The National Federation has the task of overseeing the WI movement in England and Wales. They :

  • Lobby Parliament and others on resolutions which concern members of the WI. These resolutions are debated at the National Annual Meeting by delegates representing every WI, on a wide range of national and local problems and topics
  • Produce the national magazine “WI Life”
  • Run Denman College where members can take part in short courses on a multitude of different subjects. Denman is a delightful country house near Oxford
  • Run national competitions – e.g. the Lady Denman Cup for writing, others for craft, ecology, cookery, flower arranging, and so on
  • Invite WIs to take part in events on a national level
  • Oversee the financial viability of the movement.
  • The County Federation, i.e, for us the Cornwall Federation, is concerned with the smooth running of the movement at a more local level. They :
  • Consist of an Executive Committee
  • Have sub-committees which organise events and courses. These are advertised in the County Newsletter and are, without exception, very enjoyable. They are held at our new eco-friendly County House (Chy Noweth an Conteth) near Truro and elsewhere in Cornwall.

But it is the home WI, our St. Breward WI that we concentrate on in particular. Each month brings a speaker, expert in his or her subject, outings to plan, events to arrange in the village. Our meetings are informal, lively and enjoyable – and we start with a delicious light lunch and friendly chatter.