Club fills a 70 year gap in Graffham life


A 70-YEAR gap in the history of Graffham is being filled to give a picture of the village for future generations.

Almost seven decades ago, Graffham Women’s Institute got together and created a scrapbook of memories.

“All the older members of the village were consulted, tea parties were laid on to encourage them, and, over a period of several months, reminiscences were written down which stretched right back to the 1880s,” said Mary Butterworth, editor of Graffham Parish News who has helped lead the project.

The results of this labour were carefully handwritten and stuck into a large scrapbook together with photographs, postcards and other ephemera.

A hand-painted cover featuring the WI banner was produced and the Graffham Scrapbook emerged, joining 50 similar works created by other villages and displayed in Chichester. This scrapbook still exists in the Graffham Archives.

There is no longer a WI in the village, but Graffham’s Thursday Club president Sylvia Smith and secretary Diana White reckoned the club must be its logical successor.

Nearly three years ago they teamed up with Mary to start work on a new scrapbook, starting where the original left off and continuing to the present day.

“The aim was to write down not just memories of the distant past but also create a written record covering the entire period for future generations,” said Mary.

Like the initial project, the Graffham team started in the Empire Hall with tea and cake. Thursday Club members were encouraged to go along and talk or write about their lives.

“However, the 21st-century project is very different from the 1947 original – a time when handwriting competitions were much enjoyed and ‘cut and paste’ involved a large pot of glue and a brush,” said Mary.

And after production of the book, the material collected during the project may become an online archive.

The Queen’s jubilee in 2012 provided a major impetus for the project as an exhibition staged at Graffham School generated contributions from generations of schoolchildren. Material has also been collected about school life under each of the head teachers since the war, culminating in an article by current head, Helen Martin.

The new Graffham scrapbook team has taken inspiration from a similar exercise Midhurst in Living Memory, produced by the Midhurst Society.

The society has also lent some of its recording and transcribing equipment to Graffham. Several of the older residents have been interviewed, however, with fewer resources, people have been encouraged to write their own articles.

“The book will also include articles already written for the parish magazine, as some of the older residents had already been interviewed about their experiences,” said Mary.

“It may also include cuttings from the Midhurst and Petworth Observer.

“The ‘new’ Graffham Scrapbook project could continue for many years but the editors must call a halt soon.

“Those who have already contributed are anxious to see their articles printed.”

However, said Mary, there was still some time for people who have lived in Graffham or visited regularly to join in.

“If you would like to contribute a memory or reminiscence of life in Graffham, past or present, please contact me at or telephone Diana White on 01798 867405.”