It was to a surge of medieval music that Ann Horsley, our April speaker, entered the village hall. She made a regal figure in robes, hand-sewn by herself, as she told us of the life and times of an Elizabethan lady.

From bottom to top she showed us her clothes, designed to impress. Brocade and silk, embroidered with gold thread and jewels, formed the underskirt, peeping out from a slashed over-gown while puffed sleeves, removable from the bodice, were edged with intricate lace. A starched white ruff could be worn around the throat but hers was made to frame the low neckline and superfluity of jewels, particularly ropes of pearls, favoured by the queen.

Tied on cords from the wrist were necessary articles: a pouch in lieu of a pocket; a sweet-smelling pomander to mask the street foulness; a small prayer book and a feather fan. A farthingale and padded roll held up the skirt, adding to the weight and heat.

In her home, the lady was responsible for the servants and the food, a consideration when the courses at dinner could be twenty for a celebration! Most would be meats, small beer for all and wine for the wealthy. To make a good marriage, knowledge of culinary herbs and medicines, as well as cosmetics, an ability to make music, to dance and instruct the children, was necessary, leaving little time for formal education.

After Ann’s talk, our Secretary asked for ideas to celebrate 100 years of the Federation and announced the Resolutions to be discussed at our May meeting. Forthcoming visits were to David Austin Roses, to London and to talk by one of the Calendar Girls. A request was made for knitted clothes and blankets for a premature baby unit and, as with our help at the Sunday café, the WI will be happy to assist. New members will be sure of a warm welcome.

Barbara Alcock