Downham Womens Institute


The W.I. had been brought to the U.K in 1915 from Stoney Creek in Canada where it was formed by a group of farmer’s wives to help young wives through difficult times.

It grew steadily throughout the country and after one was formed in Billericay the Downham ladies decided to form their own Institute. They started with just a few members in 1920.

After quite a few years of meetings in various places, 2 old Army huts were acquired and erected on a piece of land owned by a Mr.Dolby. When the land was put up for sale, unfortunately the W.I. were not in a position to purchase it.

But fortunately for the W.I... 2 ladies by the name of the Misses Wenna-Brown kindly purchased the land and donated it to the W.I..

During 1940 the Army took over the hall and once again the W.I. was relegated to meetings in member’s houses.

They. finally managed to get the hall back in October 1943 and were then faced with some damage for which the War Dept. paid them the grand sum of £60.10.

Unfortunately the hall started to deteriorate over the years and once again the W.I. was faced with the prospect of major repairs and not being in a financial position to be able to carry out these. The Hall was subsequently sold to the South Hanningfield Parish Council and after demolishing the old hall, a new one was built after a massive fund raising effort by the villagers.

The W.I is allowed to use this hall in perpetuity and because of this ‘ we do assist the Village Hall Committee and South Hanningfield Parish Council in maintaining a very high standard, So many long term friendships have been formed here, so it is very special to us and is a meeting place for everyone in the surrounding villages of the Parish.

Membership has grown throughout the years and the W.I. has been involved in many activities within the village and surrounding areas. We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and usually have a speaker to come along and talk to us on many varied subjects.

We are a very happy friendly Institute and we welcome visitors but we do ask you to contact us prior to the meeting on 01268 574115 for further details.