The Horniman and the WI

While I was still on maternity leave last summer, I made sure to plan something for me and Zachy to do together every day.  I like to think this is because I was being a good mum… but my motives were probably a little bit more selfish than that, as the truth was that I was starting to go quite stir crazy at home all day.

We’d go for picnics, long walks in the park, swimming classes, playgroups, lunch with friends and generally worked the whole ED Mummy circuit right up until the day I had to go back to work.

One of our favourite local places to hang out was The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill.  We’d stroll around the gorgeous gardens, stop for a little breather (have you seen the mountain you have to climb just to get there?! My car almost didn’t make it…) and Zachy would have a little roll around on the grass.

We loved to visit the Aquarium and even though Zachy was a bit too young to fully appreciate it, he liked me to hold him up to the glass so he could wave at the fish.

When I learned that the guest speaker at the August East Dulwich WI meeting was to be Finbarr Whooley, Assistant Director (Curatorial & Public Services) of The Horniman Museum, I thought to myself “there is not one inch of this museum that I have not already explored, so I shall sit back and nod along smugly appreciatively whilst drinking wine”

However, Mr Whooley then proceeded to give us a presentation on the early history of the museum, all of which I was obviously completely unaware!  Tut tut.

I had to really crane my neck in order to get a proper look at all the early photographs of the founding family and their home.

Frederick John Horniman

Most impressive was the Grade II listed Victorian cast iron Conservatory, which was originally built at the Horniman family house at Coombe Cliff, Croydon  in 1894.  By 1982, it had fallen into disrepair and the structure was totally dismantled and moved to its current site at the Horniman Museum where it was beautifully restored with the help of English Heritage.

That’s MOVED.  Not re-created.  MOVED as in TRANSPORTED.

It would have taken more than  ‘Dulwich Man and Van’ for that job!  I found it stressful enough just watching our removal men dismantle & reassemble Zachy’s cot bed.

Anyway, Finbarr was an excellent speaker and it was all really fascinating stuff, which if you are interested in reading more about, then please do click here.

So, as I was feeling a bit stiff from the unprecedented neck workout, I stuck around afterwards for a large glass of Rioja and a bowl of chips.  All in the name of relaxing the muscles though, you understand.

The East Dulwich WI meet every first Wednesday of the month upstairs at EDT.  Next month they have organised a yoga event.  If you live locally and are interested in joining or even just fancy popping along to the next event, you can find all the information you need on the EDWI website.

Where are your favourite places to hang out with the kids?


  1. Noo
    September 14, 2011 / 9:33 PM

    A friend of mine once spotted Mark Owen with his son at the Horniman. I hung out there a lot after that. But nothing. Zilch. Just those pretty fish. xx

    • Grenglish
      September 15, 2011 / 9:42 AM

      Those fish are pretty! But not as pretty as Mark Owen x

  2. September 15, 2011 / 7:45 AM

    I’m sure I’ve seen that conservatory used in a movie?!?! I wish there was a WI in Doha! I’d so join!

    • Grenglish
      September 15, 2011 / 9:42 AM

      The WI is right up your straza, but here’s a thought… why don’t you set one up? That’s how the East Dulwich WI started – a local woman set it up and invited others to join and it just got bigger and bigger. I can send you details…? xx

  3. September 15, 2011 / 9:49 AM

    That makes me nervous!! I don’t know a lot of people here! But send me the details and I can stew on it for a while xoxo

    • Grenglish
      September 15, 2011 / 9:51 AM

      well this would certainly be a way to meet new people… I’ll ask the person who started the EDWI to send me details and I’ll forward them on xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.