NORON PRIORY SUMMER OUTING… It never rains but it pours!

 Norton Priory, originally Norton Abbey, founded in 1115, is a historic site near Runcorn, comprising of the remains of a Medieval Augustine Abbey, which moved to its current site in 1134, where it is now a museum. This Grade 1 National Heritage listed building is considered to be the most important monastic remains in Cheshire, if not in the whole of Britain.
In unseasonably wet weather Whitley WI enjoyed their Annual May Outing (in June this year).
We were welcomed by Claire our guide, whose knowledge of the area was extensive. Yes she could answer all the difficult questions, from some of our own gifted local historians.
Closure of The Priory occurred in 1536 under Henry VIII, during his dissolution of the monasteries. The events surrounding the fate of the abbey are complicated, and included a dispute between Sir Piers Dutton, who was in a powerful position as the Sheriff of Cheshire, and others.

So much to see

What can we see?

Meet Geoffrey Dutton, safely back from the Crusades.

The Dutton family were great benefactors of the Priory, even having their own chapel.
The Priory was eventually sold to the Brooke family in 1545, who built first of all a Tudor House then a beautiful Georgian mansion on the site. The Brooke family left the house in 1921, and it was almost completely demolished in 1928 with rubble from the house being used in the foundations of a local chemical works.

extensive excavations

Its too wet to go outside

In 1971 archaeologist Patrick Greene was given a contract to carry out a six-month excavation as part of a plan to develop a park in the centre of Runcorn New Town. Greene’s initial findings led to a further 12 years of major excavation of the site.

The area excavated exceeded that at any other European monastic site. In 1975 Norton Priory Museum Trust was established, with the current modern museum being opened in 2016.

Christopher, don’t drop the Christ Child

One major artefact on display is the 1391 medieval sandstone statue of St Christopher, at 11.1ft tall, carrying the Christ-child on his shoulder. He was associated with the abbey because of its proximity to the River Mersey and the dangers associated with crossing the river.

Following the talk and a delicious sandwich lunch, many members departed for home. Needless to say, some of our hardy members fought the elements and couldn’t resist walking to the walled garden which had been restored in the 1980s. It includes an orchard, fruit and vegetable gardens, ornamental borders and a rose walk, as well as the national collection of tree quince.

Who says its raining? We’re having fun!

So an outing to a historic site, close to home, yet full of untold stories.
Thank You to Ann for your hard work and determination to ensure Whitley WI members enjoyed their day and learnt lots!

A SUMMER’s DAY in the life of Whitley WI

whoops!…It is wet

The Annual Whitley Rose Queen (now in its 72nd year) is a wonderful celebration of village life in Cheshire, in fact anywhere in the World.
Whitley WI were happy to join in with the fun and help at this event.
Whoops…what about the weather forecast? Would the event get washed away? Would everything get wet? Would anybody come at all?
YES YES YES…. The Rose Queen Committee made a huge success of the event, by moving stalls inside the Village Hall and the Rose Queen Crowning inside a purposely erected giant marquee.

Sue and Chris

Sue and Chris

It was good to see so many WI members at the event, with some playing a special part. Sue is President and Chris had been specially asked to crown Laura as this years’ Rose Queen.

Team Raffle

Irene and Dorothy

June and Annette

Hello Dolly

Blooming Marvellous

All went to plan with the little attendants looking especially smart in their brand new outfits.
The newly crowned Queen was entertained by a local Brass Band and dancing performed by youngsters at Whitley School.
Afternoon tea was enjoyed by so many, tea pots were constantly filled, stalls visited , raffle , games , tug of war and the famous ‘pig race’ , were all part of the fun.
Sadly the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight by a Lancaster Bomber had to be cancelled…may be next year?
This year was the first time Whitley WI had had a craft stall at the Rose Queen Event… Led by the expertise of Annette, punters could purchase many different hand crafted items, from dishcloth bloomers to duster dollies, as well as the traditional jars of homemade jam, that the WI is so famous for.

Jam without Jerusalem

The WI send their thanks to our wonderful Rose Queen Committee and the many members who helped on the day to make the event such a success…
So here’s to next year…Bigger and better again!

Music Hall in the Monastery

The Church and Friary of St Francis, known locally as Gorton Monastery, is a 19th-century former Franciscan Friary in Gorton, Manchester. The Franciscans arrived in December 1861, and carried out most of the building work themselves. It was completed in 1872 but closed for worship in 1989.
It is a Grade II listed building, classed as High Victorian Gothic architecture
In 1997, Gorton Monastery was placed on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World alongside Pompeii, the Taj Mahal and the Valley of the Kings.
The church and associated friary buildings underwent a £6 million restoration programme supported by funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and European Regional Development Fund. The project was completed in June 2007 when the restored buildings opened as a venue for conferences, business meetings and community events.

30 members of Whitley WI enjoyed a visit to this monastery where the theme was that of an Old Style Music Hall. Many members dressed in the fashion style of the times … It is amazing what we can find in our wardrobes.

The entertainment was of a very high standard; we sang along to songs from the past, experienced magic moments courtesy of Mr Trick, waved flags and somehow fitted in a three course lunch.
So much fun, in a beautiful historic building…but without the thoughtfulness and superb organisation from Chris our Culture Club leader, it wouldn’t have been possible. Sincere thanks from all who went.

Whitley garden group…MEET THE NEIGHBOURS

Meeting the neighbours….always a good thing to do.

Learning from an expert

Whitley Garden Interest Group happily accepted a kind invitation from Park WI (a neighbouring WI) to visit the garden belonging to the daughter of one of their members in WHITLEY.

Are we at Chelsea?

What a treat to see a magnificently planned and maintained garden, hidden from view when you walk or drive around Whitley.
So many different features, from the courtyard pond (the koi were camera shy) , the recently built raised beds garden…. It looked like we were at the Chelsea Flower Show, …. but in Whitley.

A knot garden

The knot garden  was well established and perfect, was followed by  a walk down the extensive back lawn to a natural wildflower area bordering on to a boundry stream…

A wire rooster was a favourite of many.. where can you buy one?

Cock a doodle!


The high light was definitely a Wisteria walk which was total perfection.
Members enjoyed the company of each other, our friendly neighbouring WI , and our wonderful local hostess, who served us with tea, coffe and homemade cakes, with expert input from Ross the gardener.

An afternoon to remember in our lovely village of Whitley.

Thank you to Park WI and Victoria.

It’s a Piece Of Cake

Its just a piece of cake… or so Whitley WI Craft Group thought. You have the cake…it just needs decorating….
HOWEVER…Clinical precision was needed.
A simple flower!!! Oh no… mine’s fallen apart!!!

This was a great afternoon for Whitley WI craft group. Led by member Anne. (a cake decorating expert) …

There was total silence in the room..nobody could speak…so great was the concentration.
But then…Eureka… it all came together and members were delighted with their newly learnt skills.
Thank You to Anne for your expert tuition as well as your patience.
So looking forward to our next group icing modelling session.

YES… The WI is all about Educating Women….We have learnt so much.