100 not out for WI Market

Anne wood at the cake stall

There must have been 70 or more customers at last Friday’s Country Market at the Community Centre on Conduit Hill. With free teas, coffee, cakes and biscuits for all, it was the day for celebrating 100 years from the opening of the first Women’s Institute (WI) market in Lewes, Sussex. The name change a few years back from WI Market to Country Market came about because of Charity Commission regulations but essentially all is the same, bar the name.

The market in Rye started about 35 years ago and some of today’s helpers were involved then. The present manager, Jenny Stapley and her mother before her go back to the early days, and Anne Wood still mans the cake stall, though her lemon drizzle cake speciality is but a fond memory now. John and Margaret Holbrook, to be seen in tandem at the check-out, have clocked up 18 and 15 years respectively. Some of their customers who have taken their seats in the lobby with anticipation and eagerly swapping the latest news, have been coming all that time.

Yet there is a sense of invigoration too, as newcomers discover the country market. All the produce is freshly and locally sourced, whether plants and vegetables grown, cakes and quiches baked, flowers picked or other goods lovingly hand-crafted. The market is open throughout the year except for the three-month winter break from mid-December to March. Doors open at 10am on the dot and such is the demand that there’s not a lot left an hour later!

For further information contact John Holbrook, email john.margaret1@btinternet.com

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .


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