GIRL'S FRIENDLY SOCIETY.
The local branch of this society was well established when between thirty or fourty members assembled for their Christmas Festival at the Boys' School on Thursday 10th January 1889. After `a good tea and several presents of useful articles, the party gave themselves up to the enjoyment of all kinds of games, and spent a very capital evening. Thanks especially to Miss Warde (the Parsonage), Miss A B Warde, and Miss Fletcher (Kenward).
In the summer of 1889 the North Malling Branch of the G F S was invited by Mr and the Misses Whitehead to hold its annual festival at Barnjet, Barming. About 200 members were present and those from Yalding travelled from Hampstead Lock on a barge, with the journeys to and from Barming forming a very pleasant part of the day's outing. Many games were in readiness including a cricket match after which they had tea in an Oast House.
This Society held a very successful annual meeting in 1895, under the direction of Miss Warde (Y) and Mrs Bradford of Hunton. After tea, the girls were greatly delighted with a pretty entertainment given by the Vicarage children, entitled “Beauty and the Beast”.
The annual treat of 1897 for the Yalding members was held at the Cheveney Institute, on January 12th. About 40 met there at five o'clock, and spent a very pleasant evening , enlivened by games and by a short play written by Miss C Scudamore for the occasion. Later in 1897 the G.F.S. held their Annual Festival on Thursday July 18th, when some 300 girls availed themselves of a charming day to pay Yalding a visit. A grand Cricket Match was arranged by Miss Evelyn Norton, Yalding v. The World, which proved a great attraction, and resulted in an easy win for the former, thanks to some vigorous hitting.
Boating on the Vicarage Moat and on the stream above the Institute-with, we are glad to say, no casualties- was much appreciated by many of the girls. A substantial tea was provided in the Institute field arranged for by Miss Mary Warde, which needless to say, was not the least unattractive feature of the day's proceedings. After which the members assembled in the Parish Church where a short but hearty service was held.
In 1899 the Annual Festival for the North Malling Deanery was with kind permission of Mr and Mrs Norton held at Downs House on Thursday July 20th. It was a very hot day and for those who bravely climbed the hill were well rewarded by a kind welcome and cooler breezes, and the lovely view. It proved too hot for many games, but it was pleasant to walk round the garden or listen to music, or visit the Sale of Work presided over by Mrs Day and Miss Killick. The 260 members plus associates and helpers then enjoyed a beautifully managed tea provided by Mr and Miss Hards.
The G F S proved to be a very stable group with the objects of:-
1. To band together in one society, ladies as Associates and girls and young women as Members, for mutual help, for sympathy and prayer.
2. To encourage purity of life, dutifulness to parents, faithfulness to employers, temperance, and thrift.
3. To provide the privileges of the Society for its members,wherever they may be, by giving them an introduction from one branch to another.
The annual gathering for 1905 was held on Thursday July 20th at the Parsonage, invited by Miss Warde. On Thursday January 11th 1906 about 60 members plus 20 from the Mothers' Meeting , were invited by Miss Warde for tea and entertainment at Cheveney Institute. On Wednesday April 24th 1907 a group of 22 from Yalding went by train to spend a day at Rochester, as part of 325 who enjoyed a tour of the castle and cathedral before joining in a service conducted by Canon Curtis. In 1908 the Annual Festival was held in Yalding vicarage grounds on Thursday July 23rd, where amongst the girls receiving cards for faithful service from Mrs Leigh, were Esther Harris, and Edith and Harriet Solman of Yalding. It was also a regular winter event to have a combined tea and entertainment, with the Mothers' Meeting group and the G F S of Hunton, at Cheveney Institute, usually hosted by Miss Warde, and supported by Miss Leigh and Mrs Bradford.
An Annual Gathering of Associates was held in Yalding on Wednesday May 15th 1912. It commenced with a celebration of Holy Communion in the Parish Church at 11.30a.m., followed by luncheon at Cheveney Institute, then a Conference addressed by a Miss Blair (Central Head for Registry), and Mrs Arthur Lucas (Vice President, Rochester), and then tea.
Further references to the G F S are made even up to 1921, but no major events are recorded, and at that time general record evidence ceased.