Fab Hatter

For our April meeting we are very excited to welcome J Smith Esquire, De Beauvoir’s new milliner, whose wonderful creations can be see through the windows of his establishment on Southgate Road.   Justin Smith graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in millinery after studying the discipline for 6 years. He started his own label, J Smith Esquire in 2007 following the critical acclaim of his  graduation show and since then, alongside designing his own collections, has also collaborated with high end fashion designers and created exquisite pieces for art installations and for television and film.


Forthcoming date for the diary – knitting group on Monday 19th March at 7.30pm onwards – email us if you’d like to join us and need the details and book group also on 19th at the De Beauvoir Arms at 8pm.

This months collection for Solace Women’s Aid is shampoo and conditioner for the welcome packs.










Celebrating Women with The Fawcett Society

2018 marks 100 years since some women gained the right to vote. Although the Beast From The East interrupted our week we were very glad to be able to celebrate International Women’s Day with a talk from The Fawcett Society.  Angie from East London Fawcett came and gave a very interesting and stimulating talk starting with the origins of the Fawcett Society and the suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett, and gave us an insight into their current campaigns and research around gender inequality.

We had a lively debate following the talk and also had the opportunity to see for the first time our De Beauvoir WI banner which we then proudly accompanied on the March4Women on Sunday.  The banner was then displayed outside the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 8th (International Women’s Day) and appeared on stage at the Royal Festival Hall at Mirth Control alongside Sandy Toksvig and other inspirational women on Sunday 11th March.















The History of Hackney & De Beauvoir Town

A huge thank you to Hackney Archives who came along to our February meeting to talk about their work.  They collect, preserve and provide access to records that contribute to our understanding of Hackney’s socio-economic and cultural identity.

The archive was started in 1882 by John Tyson, a Hackney land owner who donated his library. The archive was located in the Old Shoreditch Library in 1965 and in 2012 they moved to a specially designed public space in CLR James Library, Dalston Square.

The oldest document in the archive was written in Latin and dates back to 1356.

They hold over 17,000 images in the form of paintings, drawings and photographs, a small proportion of which can be seen online. Picture postcards, documenting the changes in De Beauvoir over time, are held here as well as photos of bomb damaged properties (see below) and photos of the streets pre clearance to develop the De Beauvoir Estate  can also be seen.

They hold a huge collection of maps providing a major source of information on how the area has developed over time . Along with ‘Street Directories’ which were published between 1840-1930 giving list of residents and the drain surveys which began in 1856 – all hold a vast amount of knowledge about the footprint of individual properties.

They also welcome volunteers to help them catalogue for various projects.








What’s it worth?

What a fabulous start to the year as  we welcomed Nicola Whittaker from Fellows Auctioneers.  Fellows is a family run firm and Nicola is a sixth generation member of her family to join the business and she began working in the auction house aged 16 in her school holidays.  Fellows are based in Birmingham but have an office in Mayfair, London where Nicola now works. Specialising in jewellery and watches, she explained that unlike many other auction houses, they do not put a lower price limit on items they auction.  Passionate and informative she took us through a whistlestop tour of the history of jewellery, how changes in society emerged in changing aesthetics, and how things changed further as exploration, excavation  and gem cutting equipment developed. She was so generous with her time and her knowledge and  spent a further hour with us looking at the treasures members had brought in and giving us information on origin , history and potential value.    She also mentioned that that Fellows have open afternoons where anyone can go and peruse the items up for auction so we are thinking we may plan a trip there. If you are interested in coming along email us at debeauvoirwi@gmail.com 





Decorate A Christmas Cake





From pretty in pink through the night before Christmas and all manner of festive fondant foliage inbetween, we rolled, crimped and decorated a whole host of Christmas cakes at our December meeting. Icing sugar flying while we indulged in a seasonal glass of wine and munched on mince pies, a wonderful array of completely individual cakes exited the building at the end of the night.

A huge thanks goes to our talented  member, Lynn Brooks for guiding us through the art of working with fondant.  Here are some pictures of just a handful of the creative concoctions that emerged throughout the meeting plus a lovely picture of Lynn showing us the ropes.


An additional thanks to all from our membership and our community who donated gift sets for the women at Solace Women’s Aid refuge –  see above for just a portion of all the gifts that were delivered to Solace …












Wise Birds Quiz Night

What a great night of general knowledge quizzing at our Wise Bird’s Quiz Night. Congratulations to the winning team the Purple Pansies who shot through in the last round and proved themselves to be the wisest birds in the room. We also put our heads together on the upcoming Plastic Soup resolution and came up with some great ideas for taking the campaign forward into next year.

Thanks to all the fabulous bakers who provided a feast of goodies and a huge thanks to Nichola and Victoria for all their hard work putting the quiz together. Who knew tube station emoji’s could be so elusive.

The Working Artist

At our October meeting we enjoyed a fascinating talk by David Buckman on the work of the East London Group – a group of artists who developed from an art club at the Bethnal Green Men’s Institute and who achieved critical acclaim in the early half of the 20th century.  Their drawings and paintings show buildings, streets and ways of life that no longer exist.

There are 2 exhibitions currently taking place showing various works from the East London Group
At the Nunnery gallery in Bow until 17th December, and at Southampton City Art Gallery until early January 2018.