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Centenary exhibition at Milton Keynes Museum

Date Posted:20/07/2015

Milton Keynes MuseumLocal branches of the UK’s best-loved organisation for women – the WI – are celebrating its centenary with a fascinating exhibition at Milton Keynes Museum.

Running throughout July and August, the exhibition features everything from historic documents and scrapbooks to stunning samplers and hand-knitted cakes.

Among the exhibits are a series of colourful banners representing the branches – and telling their history. For instance, Bradwell’s banner features the stocks which used to sit at the bottom of Primrose Lane. While Newton Longville’s includes an even grimmer reminder of the past – the gallows which existed until 1880 in a field off the Drayton Road.

For Thornborough and Thornton WI, the exhibition is a chance to remind people that the modern WI is about more than jam and Jerusalem. Its display includes memorabilia from a novel Grab a Handful fundraiser, for which members donated old bras and then competed to see how many they could remove one-handed from a washing line in 30 seconds. Both the bras and the money raised were sent to support projects and people in Sierre Leone.

But there are also reminders of WI members’ traditional talent for cooking and other creative crafts, among them a giant collage featuring the faces and places of Stony Stratford High St in exquisite detail.

Each local branch has contributed its own display to the exhibition, and there is also video footage – and the sounds of Jerusalem being sung
And though you won’t be able to eat the knitted cakes, the museum’s own café is open and serving tip-top sponges and treats, baked up by long-serving volunteer and WI stalwart Diane Roder. The exhibition continues in the café where a timeline records the WI’s success in 1979 in lobbying for exemption for WI kitchens for making and selling jam.

You’ll find the exhibition in the gallery space at Milton Keynes Museum, whose opening times can be found on the website –