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Shadwell Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association: the November meeting of the YCA was quite well attended despite the cold and wet evening. The new format for the meetings is working well and although the speaker had already arrived she was happy to sit through the business part of the evening. Three members from Shadwell YCA had attended the autumn group meeting at Manor School, Nether Poppleton, the school is not easy to find and the ladies got very lost but eventually got there. The speaker in the morning was Dr Richard Shephard, he is the Chamberlain for York Minster and he explained his job is to raise the money and organise the building and repairs which are being carried out all the time on the Minster. He had some very interesting slides of the minister several showing parts of the minster which is not normally seen by the public. Chris Foote Wood gave a selection of reading from Charles Dickens in the afternoon. Chris is the brother of Victoria Wood and is also an actor, his favourite author being Dickens. The three officers had also attended the Officers Day in Wetherby. Officers from 42 branches in the West Riding had attended and it was a very instructive day with ideas gleaned from other branches. After the business the speaker for the evening was Jane McKeown with the History and Origins of Nursery Rhymes. She started by humming a tune which all the ladies recognised as the theme from Listen with Mother. Nearly everyone had spent time listening to this programme with their children. The original rhymes had not been created for the nursery; they were a means of getting information around the country about things which had happened. Because it was dangerous in the Middle Ages to pass on stories about the nobility the names were changed for example Georgy, Porgy. Pudding and pie referred to George, Duke of Buckingham who was notorious for seducing the ladies. There have been several Dukes of York so the rhyme about him marching his troops up the hill fits several of them. The favourite rhyme was Humpty Dumpty. Jane comes from Cawood and she told the ladies that Humpty refers to Cardinal Wolsey who was appointed Archbishop of York in Henry VIII’s time. He was quite ill and only managed to get as far as Cawood, then the king decided to have him arrested so he was taken back to London but on the way he died so “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”. Unfortunately there is another version and in Colchester they believe the rhyme refers to a large cannon which was called Humpty Dumpty and when it was fired for the first time fell off the castle wall and broke into many pieces. Jane had many more illustrations of nursery rhymes such as Banbury Cross this was reputed to be Lady Godiva, Ring a ring of roses was the plague. The rhyme Oranges and Lemons referred to all the churches which are around Tyburn and told people about the executions there. There were many more rhymes too numerous to mention. Jane was thanked for her fascinating and educational talk by Anne Smith. The December meeting is the Christmas lunch at the Dexter and 37 members and friends are attending.