There have been horticultural groups and shows in Rodmell since the mid 19th century. Leonard Woolf was Chairman of the first modern version of the Society, which later became “Rodmell Horticultural and Allotment Society” on 13 November 1940. The first Rodmell “Flower and Vegetable Show” was held on Saturday 24 August 1946. Judith Bradbury has researched some of the Society’s history below.
Now we are Rodmell Horticultural Society (RHS), and we usually hold two shows each year – a Spring Show and a Summer Show – as well as the AGM with a guest speaker, and a Seedling Sale. We are sometimes able to organise subsidised group visits for “RHS” members to local gardens. Membership of our horticultural society also provides discounts at Paradise Park in Garden Centre in Newhaven.
The date for our Spring Show this year is 1st April. The Summer Show will be on the afternoon of 19th August 2023. Entry schedules for the shows are distributed to all homes in Rodmell about 2 weeks before each show.
Chair Jill Goldman
Treasurer Madeleine Harvey
Membership Secretary Roger Ford
Show Secretary Ali Grace
Committee members Jane Finch, Richard Sellick, Candy Thomas,
Sandra Webb, Caroline Archer and John Harvey
Joint Organisers of Summer Show Field Events
Candy Thomas, Sandra Webb
Rodmell Horticultural Society is always keen to recruit new committee members and welcomes enquiries. In particular, we are seeking a new volunteer Treasurer. The duties are not too onerous!
We always need more Committee members for our “RHS” – you don’t need to be an expert gardener, just willing to help organise our village shows and other “RHS” events. If you’d like to help us to keep our shows going every year, please contact any of the Committee members.
Please contact Jill Goldman if you are interested, or if you have any questions. email@example.com
RHS AGM 2023
RODMELL & DISTRICT HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, RODMELL VILLAGE HALL
at 7.30 pm on 28th February 2023
24 people present were welcomed by the Chairman, Jill Goldman.
Minutes of the AGM in February 2022 were read and agreed.
Chairman’s report. Jill Goldman thanked members of the committee for their support during the year and read her report as follows.
“Despite various difficulties, we have held 2 shows this year. Our Spring Show on 26th March and our Summer Show on 20th August. The Spring show is always a lovely event as it heralds the arrival of the new season and the re-awakening of the village after the winter. Attendance was slightly on the low side, perhaps because there were still some concerns about Covid. Nevertheless, it was a successful event and it was wonderful to have some new volunteers involved, in particular Ali and Kathryn who did sterling work on the teas. This year, we had sunflower seeds available in exchange for a donation; sunflowers being the national flower of Ukraine. Lesley Prosser received £120 in donations which meant, that with the Gift Aid scheme, £150 was paid to the DEC — Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. So, a big thank you to all who took part and grew their sunflowers.
The Summer show on 20th August, was, once again, a successful day. For the second year running we decided to charge no entry fee, asking for donations from attendees instead. The silver band were well received and they played beautifully as usual. The tea tent did well, as did the burger stall and the bar. The scaled down, more compact arrangement led to a very friendly atmosphere. There were about 140 entries or exhibits in the show. This is down on the number of entries in 2019. I am hopeful there will be more in this year’s show. As always, the weather plays an important role in determining the number and type of entries in a horticultural show. You may remember that we had a very hot summer, a shortage of rain which led to a hosepipe ban, swiftly followed by a large amount of rain. As a result, entries in the tomato categories were high, but there were no onions entered. The domestic classes were popular, especially the Swiss roll and the preserves. There were 14 entries in the photography categories; the theme of “reflections” proving to be inspirational.
These two shows can only take place because of the hard work, time, and dedication of the committee and other volunteers in the village. One committee member is standing down and another has expressed a wish to resign, so we are looking for new people to join us. We are a very informal and friendly society, our committee meetings are often held in the pub. You don’t need to be a horticulturalist to join us, just someone who would like to contribute to village life, especially our annual summer show. If you are interested in joining in, please do let me or another member of the committee know. We will be delighted to have you!”
Treasurer’s report. Madeleine Harvey presented the accounts for the period 1st January 2022 to 31st December 2022. “The year opened with £3,805 and closed with £3,306 giving a deficit of £499 over the year. During 2022, the Horticultural Society organised two events. The first was the welcome return of the Spring Show in March which gave a surplus of £254 as shown in note 1 on the back of the summary accounts sheet. The second event was the Summer Show in August, which gave a very creditable surplus of £402, as shown in note 2. Thanks are due to two villagers who loaned their marquees. The Summer Show was on a larger scale than in 2021 but the committee in its current form is not able to return to the much larger shows which were arranged pre pandemic. Other income came from membership fees which raised £169. On the expenses side, the society paid out £35 in affiliation fees to the Royal Horticultural Society. Public liability insurance to cover our events cost £90. The village hall (£30) was hired for two committee meetings which included the small scale AGM last year. The miscellaneous expenditure of £204 was for cups to be awarded at the Spring Shows, stocks of show cards and a gas bottle for the barbecue. Our main expenditure of £965 was the purchase of two gazebos to be used at future shows and other village events. These were put to good use at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations organised by the Cricket Club. In the future some of our funds may be used to purchase more white folding tables to replace the ageing wooden trestles.”
Fiona Roberts was thanked for examining the accounts. The treasurer proposed the adoption of the accounts for the year ending 2022. This was passed by a show of hands.
Next AGM to be held in February 2024
Committee for 2023 Jill Goldman (Chair), Madeleine Harvey (Treasurer), Alison Grace (Show Secretary), Richard Sellick, Caroline Archer, John Harvey. Not confirmed Tom Woodbridge, Jane Finch, Candy Thomas, Sandra Webb. Roger Ford subsequently offered to serve as membership secretary.
A fascinating talk at 8pm by Zara Luxford on Nymans, past, present and future was very well received
Special Offers for RHS Members at Paradise Park
Paid up members of Rodmell Horticultural Society (RHS) are entitled to a Loyalty Card at Tate’s Garden Centre, Paradise Park, Newhaven, which earns them £1 for every £10 spent.
If you haven’t picked up your Loyalty Card you can collect one from the Paradise Park Information Centre on production of your Rodmell Horticultural Society (RHS) membership card.
History of the RHS – Judith Bradbury writes:
Whilst researching the ‘Rodmell Remembers’ project I trawled the British Newspaper Archive. In reading the documents thrown up by searches on Rodmell I came across quite a few references to annual Rodmell Flower Shows. It is often stated that our Horticultural Society was founded by Leonard Woolf in World War II to encourage allotment growing. In fact it would appear our origins go back much further than that but that Leonard Woolf was instrumental in resurrecting the organisation. On reflection this seemed obvious to me ….it seemed inconceivable that such a rural village did not have such activities going back to at least Victorian times. The information I have extracted is of course limited to what is available on the archive online. So whilst I can now trace our origins back to an article in 1856, it may well be fairs were held in Rodmell much earlier than that although they may have been of a more agricultural nature.
Here are some extracts that seemed of interest to me:-
The Sussex Advertiser and Surrey Gazette 29th July 1859: ‘Horticultural Show and Fancy Fair’
This show is reported to be Rodmell’s inaugural show and was a plan originated by the Reverend P de Putron with his efforts seconded by the gentry and agriculturists of the neighbourhood. The article explains it came about to inaugurate Rodmell’s parochial school. The fancy fair element was in aid of funds for the school. Tea was served on Mr Saxby’s meadow where a booth had been erected. Amusements included a greasy pole, jumping in sacks, jingling matches* and leaping. Mr Saxby exhibited some novel plants including specimens of netted cantelope (sic), the custard plant and ‘a remarkable specimen of cucumber’. The event concluded with a merry dance and dispersed after everyone joined in the National Anthem.
The Sussex Advertiser and Weald of Kent Chronicle 30th July 1864: Rodmell Floral and Horticultural Show
This is such an interesting article it seemed worth printing most of it out ….
‘On Thursday last the little village of Rodmell presented quite a gay and animated appearance. Flags waved in all directions, all the villagers who were able to do so came out in their holiday attire, and for some time in the afternoon there was a constant rattle of carriages over the hard roads, each with its complement of visitors from Lewes, Brighton, Newhaven and Eastbourne, while many others wended their way thither on foot. The occasion for all this unwanted bustle was one which deserves our best attention and support. Five years ago, as an incentive to the cottagers in Rodmell to take more interest in garden operations than they had hitherto done, several gentlemen of the locality formed themselves into a society, and offered a number of prizes for the best cultivated gardens and the finest show of fruit and vegetables grown therein by the cottagers. The experiment succeeded, a show of fruit and vegetables was produced which the promoters of the undertaking were not ashamed for the public to see and criticise, and, while the public were invited to attend, the day was set apart as one of general holiday in the village. The school children had their treat, while for the rustics, congenial amusements were provided. The fifth show of flowers, fruit and vegetables took place on Thursday and although the entries were not large, there was a slight improvement upon the previous show. In a field near the centre of the village, a long tent had been erected and decorated with considerable taste; on either side were the following mottoes:-
‘God Save The Queen’ the letters formed of moss, enclosed by a framework composed of the young shoots of fir trees;
‘Preserve and Prosper’ in leaves of prickly holly;
‘Pray and Labour’ also in moss
‘Sow and Reap’ in ivy leaves, with an edging of the same.
Along the sides were ranged tables covered with flowers, fruit and vegetables; the majority of the first named being fuchsias and geraniums, and baskets of cut flowers and tastefully arranged wild flowers; the show of fruit was not large, and the principal portion consisted of gooseberries of different descriptions; the vegetables forming the chief portion of the show and the show of potatoes were very good. Mr James Woollard, a nurseryman of Cooksbridge, also exhibited a collection of cut roses and other flowers. The judges were Messrs Woollard, Wheatley and Carr who were assisted by the Secretary Mr J Burne and the Treasurer the Rev P de Putron made their awards early in the day, and the show was opened to the public at 1 o’clock. The Lewes Military and Town Band was in attendance and discoursed sweet music at intervals during the afternoon. The ‘Magic Post Office’* in which a bevy of fair ladies officiated in the delivery and receipt of letters was much patronised, and afforded endless amusement, besides adding a good round sum to the funds. Under the active superintendence of Mr Edward Burne, running matches for adults, boys and girls, were engaged in, the winners being presented with some useful articles as a prize. There was also a jingling match, and jumping and other sports to keep the company alive. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the children of the Church Sunday School, to the number of about 100, had tea, picnic fashion, seated in a circle on the grass after which prizes of books, microscopes and useful articles, for regular attendance and good conduct, were distributed amongst them. Visitors had an opportunity of inspecting the Parish Church and in the school room adjoining there was an exhibition of works of art, including some fine photographs, articles of vertu, and dried specimens of plants and herbs, free of charge and well repaid the short walk from the flower show. The cottagers prizes were distributed by the Rev de Putron, at half past six, at the entrance to the tent, and consisted of sets of plates, knives and forks, saucepans, tea trays, candlesticks, teapots, bellows and useful culinary articles. The following is a list of successful competitors’……etc
Sussex Advertiser and Surrey Gazette 25th July 1865
A report of the sixth annual show, which included a cricket match. The Abergavenny Arms ( Landlord Mr Baker ) provided the refreshments.
It is probable at some stage the tradition of the show was allowed to lapse but the activity is resumed in 1905 and seems to run up to the start of the first World War.
Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail 28th October 1905: ‘Rodmell: Proposed Flower Show’
A meeting was held to consider the advisability of forming one big show, to be called the Brookside Flower Show and to take in the villages of Kingston, Iford, Rodmell, Southease, Piddinghoe and Telscombe, in place of the show at present held at Iford. The Marquess of Abergavenny was written to asking him to accept the presidency. Vice Presidents were Messrs Aubrey Hillman, J Stacey Snr, J Stacey Jnr, J C Robinson, A Gorham, E Runtz, J Hobson and F Baker. The Treasurer was H R Bishop and Secretary J Hobson Jnr. It was proposed the rest of the committee be formed from 1 member for each village.
Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail 7th September 1907
‘Brookside Horticultural Show opened by Lady Aubrey-Fletcher at Rodmell’
Entries numbered about 500, nearly 200 more than last year. The Marquess of Abergavenny was the president of the show and vice presidents included Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, The Rev J B Hawkesford, Mr F Baker, Mr C S Beard, Mr T Colgate, Mr W G A Edwards, Mr C Goring, Mr A Gorham, Mr J Hobson, Mr A T Kenward, Mr E Runtz, Mr J Stacey Snr and Mr J Stacey Jnr. Held at Rodmell in Mr J Stacey Jnr’s barn. The judges had to visit 67 gardens, to do which they had to cover 30 miles, and each garden was inspected 3 times. There were several non-competitive exhibits including a magnificent anchor composed of choice flowers. The show was opened by Lady Aubrey-Fletcher – Sir Henry had travelled all the way from Wales in order to be present.
Sussex Express , Surrey Standard and Kent Mail. Sat 12th September 1908: Brookside Flower Show
The 3rd annual exhibition was held in a barn belonging to Mr J Stacey Jnr at Rodmell. The number of entries is reported at 616, an increase of 60/70 on the previous year.
Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail September 10th 1909
The Show was held in a barn at Rodmell lent by Mr J Stacey Jnr – the lofty building was prettily decorated by flags. There was keen competition in the runner beans. A hive of working bees was exhibited.
In 1910 the show was held in Mr J C Robinson’s stock yard at Iford.
Sussex Express, Surrey Standard and Kent Mail, 6th September 1912: Brookside Horticultural and Industrial Show
Mr J C Robinson’s barn at Iford presented an unusually attractive appearance on Wednesday, the occasion being the seventh annual Brookside Horticultural and Industrial Show (Industrial in this context appears to mean home industry, i.e. jams , pickles etc).
There are some minor reports of shows in the 1920s, the report of 16th September 1927 reporting a decline of interest. There are no reports for the 1930s.
On 16th September 1942 it is reported there was good attendance when Rodmell Horticultural Society held its first public meeting at the Village Hall.
Jingling Matches: …this is an old English game in which blindfolded players try to catch one not blindfolded player who keeps jingling a bell.
*Magic Post Office? I haven’t been able to discover what this means.
It is interesting – and heartening – to read of so much continuity between then and now – bands, tents, teas, greasy poles, races, dances etc, are all quite likely to feature in our modern Summer Shows. I was also surprised that a display of fine photographs are an early feature of the shows.