100th Anniversary of Patterdale WI

by Anne Clarke

Patterdale WI is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. It was founded as a branch of the Westmorland Federation of Women’s Institutes in October 1921 by Miss May Spence and artist, Ann Macbeth. 

Since then there have been 11 Presidents, the longest-serving by far being Margaret Boothryod who currently holds the office and has done so for the last 40 years. Margaret joined the WI when she and her husband Joe came to run the YHA Hostel in Patterdale in 1972 and, despite catering daily for up to 84 people she became an active member of the WI, serving as Secretary from 1975 until her election as President in 1981.

Joan Wear, born, raised and still living in the centre of Glenridding is the group’s longest-serving member, having joined in 1959.  Joan is the go-to person for questions about the history of the Dale and its families. 

WI 100th anniversary celebration, Margaret Boothroyd cutting the cake and Joan Wear raising a glass. ©Cumberland & Westmorland Herald/Fred Wilson

Patterdale WI meets monthly in Glenridding Village Hall for a varied programme of talks and demonstrations. The group also has a monthly programme of walks and, in previous years, members have also undertaken long distance walks, including Hadrian’s Wall and St. Cuthbert’s Way. Ann Burrell, the current Treasurer, is the inspiration behind the walks programme. 

The WI also plays a crucial role as guardian of the cultural heritage and history of the Dale. In 1957, Elizabeth A. Little, created the Chronicles of Patterdale, a collection of stories, information and pictures gathered from people in the Dale. The Chronicles of Patterdale was written for Patterdale WI as their entry in the “Village Histories” competition organised by the Cumberland Federation of Women’s Institutes in that year. It won first place, was published in 1961 and reprinted several times since. It makes fascinating reading. and is the basis for a number of articles in the Ullswater Heritage Knowledge Bank.

In 1981, the year of Patterdale WI’s Diamond Jubilee, Marjorie Ives wrote a wonderful booklet about their founder Ann Macbeth, based on conversations with folk in the Dale as well as Ann’s younger sister Sheila Macbeth Mitchell who was 93 at the time. Ann Macbeth was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1875. Unusually for the time, Ann was allowed to attend Glasgow School of Art (she had two uncles in Glasgow to keep an eye on her). She went on to become Head of Embroidery at Glasgow and to lecture across the country as well as write books on wide range of subject including lace, leatherwork, children’s crafts and teaching needlework. Some of Ann Macbeth’s work hangs in Patterdale Church.

Congratulations to Patterdale WI for reaching 100 and sincere thanks for your contributions to the Heritage Knowledge Bank!