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George Tyndale : knitting villages and going naked for the WI

By George Tyndale on May 14, 09 12:47 PM

If you are looking for the lost spirit of England then get yourself down to the village of Mersham in Kent.

This is where, 23 years ago, the ladies of the Mersham Afternoon Club decided to set about the task of knitting a model of their community.

KNITTED.jpg

A dozen or so of them set about the Royal Oak Pub, the shop, the bakery, the bungalows, the cottages and even the chickens and the flowers in the garden.

Dotty? Of course.

A little sad? Maybe.

But also innocent, eccentric and quintessentially English.

Alternatively you could head for Rylstone in Yorkshire where the ladies of the WI have just completed a remake of their famous nude calendar.

Rylstone.jpg

Ten years after the members first stripped off their idea has been subject to hundreds of attempted copies, each one tackier and more tasteless than the last.

But the WI ladies' remake - complete with straw hats and pearls - is as charming, witty and as English as the first.

Even so, one of the calendar models, Beryl Bamforth, is 75. The others are not much younger.

Down in Mersham the knitted village is now to be sold. The majority of the women who created it are dead and those who remain are in their Eighties.

So that old England does still exist. But only just.

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