Our history

growing old disgracefully began in 1988 as a course for older women at The Hen House, a women’s holiday and study centre.


From one course in the first year it rapidly grew to six in 1991.

Many of the course participants stayed in contact with each other. Six of them, calling themselves The Hen Co-op, decided to embody the ideas gained from the course in a book about their lives.

“Growing Old Disgracefully” was published in 1993, and generated a great deal of interest from women all over the UK and beyond. A few years later the same six women wrote a second book called “Disgracefully Yours”.
shirley-edith-book-launchThe first book is still available and can be purchased second hand from Amazon.  You might find copies in your library too.

The enthusiasm of women who identified with the ideas expressed in the books, as well as media interest, resulted in the creation of a network of women across the UK. This network spread to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Jersey, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

Since then, hundreds of women have benefited from membership of the growing old disgracefully network. They have found not only great events and activities, but friendship, support, and a lot of laughter!

Click here for more information about what we do.