Are angels male or female? This question began the talk by Alan Rose at the October meeting of Aston-by-Stone W.I. The answer, of course, is that they are female – when depicted on inn signs, which was the subject of the talk.

“Hanging Ladies” was the title of the talk; a description of what we saw, rather than a hobby, and we were amazed by the sheer variety of female subjects on these signs. We can all think of the Queen’s Head, for example, but perhaps we were not aware that a living monarch may not be so depicted. However, one clever artist has found a way round this for the sign of the Star and Garter, the Queen being shown as a waxwork model in the process of being dressed in the Garter robes.

The wide range of subjects on inn signs includes mythology, nursery rhymes, entertainers and royal mistresses. We in Stone can claim our own Langtry’s to fit this category! The Quiet Woman is one of the more gory signs; she is usually shown with her head under her arm, and this may double as one of Henry VIII’s wives – take your pick from two contenders.

The sign which had the most resonance for W.I. purposes was that of thee Fox Goes Free, perhaps depicting a vixen (who can say?), but important because it was in these premises that the very first W.I. meeting in England took place: Singleton and East Dean claims that distinction.

The usual business of the meeting took place, with the news at the end that Sheila Moulton, our County Chairman, is stepping down. Expressions of sincere regret were uttered: she has led us well for her term of office, and will be missed.

Would you like to join us and hear interesting talks, perhaps join in our varied activities?

Contact us on www.astonbystonewi.btck.co.uk or contactastonwi@ntlworld.com.

If you would prefer to ring the number is 01785 615662.

We meet on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30 in Aston-by-Stone Village Hall.