Fringe Box



Fairlands WI Celebrates In Style

Published on: 19 Dec, 2015
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2015

The Guildford Dragon NEWS welcomes reports and news of events from Women’s Institute groups that meet in the borough of Guildford. They will be published in this section of the website. Email details to

From Val Dillon


Cheque books at the ready; a social evening, including a game of pass the parcel and a buffet supper, will be enjoyed by members of Fairlands WI in January.

This is the time of year when the annual subscription of £37.50 is due. It will be much simpler if the treasurer does not have to deal with cash payments so a cheque will make her life easier.

After a harrowing period, during which it was thought that Fairlands WI might cease to exist, the members will now be able to celebrate in style.

In December they were entertained by Matthew Alexander, a well-known local historian, who gave his presentation titled Christmas in old Surrey. He was amazed to find that so many Fairlands members were born in Surrey and a large number were Guildford born and bred.

Who knew that so many of our traditions are relatively new? In the past, before Victorian times, the celebrations only began on Christmas Eve at midnight, and the 12 days of Christmas started on Boxing Day and finished on January 6 – Epiphany, after which everyone went back to work. During this period, old people would come round to the doors of the gentry asking for their dole and children would also make the rounds.

Each house would hang up a kissing bough of evergreen leaves and mistletoe, under which a kiss could be claimed. The Christmas tree superseded this decoration after being introduced by Prince Albert. On Boxing Day traders called for their money – a shilling each, and on New Year’s Day presents were exchanged.

We heard about mummers performing their plays, which were passed down over the generations but never written down, so the words often became altered and garbled over time.

Matthew Alexander also performed some of the old songs or carols, many of which were peculiar to particular regions and are not familiar to us now.

The January members’ social meeting will be on Wednesday, January 13, and on February 10 David Rose will come along to talk about more of Guildford’s lost shops.

This is his second talk on the subject and those who came last time will be interested to hear more. This will be an open meeting where friends and family can join in. Visitors pay a nominal sum of £2.

If you are interested in finding out more about us, call Jenny Page, president, on 01483 538426 or Angela Linington, secretary, on 01483 233967.

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