About us

Diane McLaren Diane McLaren

Welcome to the Wiltshire Federation

A very warm welcome to Wiltshire - a beautiful and diverse County in the South West of England almost half of which is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.  

Wiltshire is uniquely rooted in the past; Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age people all built settlements on the hills and downs, while Romans, Normans and Saxons left their mark on our countryside and towns. Stonehenge and Avebury are by far the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK, but Wiltshire is also known for the 8 iconic white horses carved into its chalk hills.  Other attractions and landmarks include Salisbury Cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in England, Castle Combe voted one of the prettiest villages in England, Lacock the home of photography, Caen Hill Locks - one of the original seven wonders of the waterways, and last but by no means least the home of Brunel's Great Western Railway in Swindon.

The Wiltshire Federation of WIs came into existence in 1919, the same year that six WIs were established. Redlynch & District WI has the distinction of being the longest standing WI in Wiltshire and is probably the second oldest in the country. It was founded in September 1916 and possesses a fascinating archive of written and photographic material from the early years right up to the present day. All WIs are encouraged to archive such material at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham where it can be viewed by anyone interested.

We currently have over 4000 members in 125 WIs across the County. Some institutes are located in very rural areas while some are in towns. They will all give you a very warm welcome should you decide to call in. To find a WI near you click the tab at the top of this page.  If there isn't an existing WI near where you live, why not think about starting up a new one with a few friends. We will be more than happy to advise how to do this.

Our institutes meet once a month, either in the morning, afternoon or evening as decided locally. Many women join the WI for friendship, to learn new skills and to participate in the various activities organised by the institutes, such as walks, sports, trips to the theatre, talks by invited speakers, competitions, meetings with other WIs and visits to interesting places both within and outwith the county.

Our Federation also arranges events that are open to members (and non-members) from across all of our WIs, thereby facilitating wider interactions between like-minded women. For example: music, drama, public affairs, inter WI leagues in whist, scrabble and skittles, have a go days for archery and golf, talks by well-known speakers, workshops in crafting and cooking, coach visits to interesting places or events, and many other activities, chosen to appeal to as wide a cross section of members as possible. The WI ethos is to offer opportunities for enjoyable learning for life and we are of course always open to suggestions from members for new events.

As part of those learning opportunities, we are lucky to have the WI's own residential college, Denman College, just across the border in Oxfordshire. All WI members are able to take full advantage of either day workshops or residential courses in Denman's delightful surroundings. Some WIs have established biennial bursaries, which contribute towards the costs of a WI member attending a Denman course.

WI House - our Federation Office and Secretariat - is located in the middle of the county at Devizes, near to the Kennet and Avon Canal. The House was paid for with money raised by our WIs and by donations from individual members. Our Federation Secretary, Stephanie Pawling welcomes telephone enquiries (01380 722338) or a visit during office hours at 17 Couch Lane, Devizes, SN10 1EB.

If you are interested in joining us or finding out more, please browse our website or contact our Federation Office. You can also visit our Facebook page for the latest news, or our Twitter account to see what we are doing currently.

We look forward to meeting you.

Diane McLaren 
Federation Chairman