"The Chronicles of a Country Parish" - A village appraisal of Sulgrave published in 1995

(Back to Chapter 3 Index)

The Society was formed in 1977 with an initial membership of 35, which soon increased to over 90, with some primary and junior school members. The programme planned for 1978 included monthly open meetings and the first of the annual produce shows. These shows were first held in a marquee on the Manor Playing Field, and were combined with a number of other attractions such as bowls, children's fancy dress and, on one occasion, an evening disco in the marquee. By 1979 a Dog Show had been added. The Society set up a Trading Section, at first to sell compost, peat, potatoes and seeds to members, but in the course of time sales were limited to seeds and then the section lapsed. In fact, after the first flush of enthusiasm the Society fell on hard times, with a drastic fall in the number of active members - by December 1979, the Chairman was wondering whether the Society should continue, and in 1982 it was reported that, of some 30 or so members, only 10-12 attended regularly.

The Annual Autumn Show

At the same time, the Committee was experiencing difficulty in finding speakers for the monthly meetings; these were reduced to three per year, and for a time even this modest number seemed too many. Largely to reduce marquee hiring costs, the annual show moved to the Church Hall and a smaller marquee and in 1981, to remedy a financial imbalance, it was recommended that entry fees be raised to 10p per exhibit to cover monetary prizes. The entry fees remain at 10p in 1991 which shows that our cash prizes would hardly satisfy even modestly avaricious desires.

Gradually things improved again; membership rose steadily, and now seems to have levelled off at between 100 and 110 (well over a quarter of the village population - the Society is easily the largest formal organisation in the Sulgrave), although the active number is noticeably smaller. For the past seven years, four meetings have been held in the autumn and winter, usually attended by about 30 members. At recent meetings, visiting speakers have dealt with gardening techniques (propogation, pest conrol, growing vegetables, garden design), well-known gardens (Wisley, Upton House, Oxford University Parks) and specific plants or groups of plants (herbs, camelias, mountain flowers). During the spring and summer, private car excursions are organised to gardens and other places of horticultural interest; sadly, however, it appears that all-day coach outings are out of favour.

The Society's finances have been sound enough for the purchase of daffodil bulbs for the verges and green spaces in the village, a new set of chairs for the Church Hall and a seat which has been installed on Manor Road. Discounts for members at various local garden centres have been secured, and the bulk seed order has been reinstated, to the benefit of both members and the Society's general funds.

Recent inovations include a members-only early-summer flower, fruit and vegetable show, and the distribution of an occasional newsletter to keep members informed and in touch.