Although Lancaster Roses was only formed in 2012, we are part of a much larger organisation dating back to 1915 in the United Kingdom, but the very first WI was actually in Canada!
The first Women’s Institute was formed in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Canada as a branch of the Farmer’s Institute in 1897.
The first WI in Britain was formed under the auspices of the Agricultural Organisation Society (AOS) as part of a move to encourage countrywomen to get involved in growing and preserving food to help to increase the supply of food to the war-torn nation. The very first one was at llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, on Anglesey, North Wales on September 16th, 1915. Eventually, responsibility for WI formation was handed over to Women’s Section of the Food Department of the Board of Agriculture but by 1917 they were independent and both local and the National Federations were formed. Lady Denman was the first National Chair, and Grace Haddow was Vice-Chairman.
It takes a lot more space than we have here to detail the full history of the WI, the campaigns, the activism, the education, the celebrations, the music, the crafts, the baking and, of course, the JAM! (Which became especially associated with the WI during both world wars when the WI ran preservation centres to preserve and can produce that would otherwise go to waste.)
By the centenary of the WI in 2015 we had 212,000 members in over 6,300 WIs.