An Informal Group
The Hurst Horticultural and Cottage Garden Society is an informal group of people who meet about 4 times a year with the objective of having fun and promoting horticulture and home industries (produce, art and handicrafts) in the local community. The focal point is the staging of an annual show in August with a supplementary "mini-show" earlier in the year. We are affiliated with the Royal Horticultural Society which, among other things, provides us with public liability insurance for our events.
There is no membership fee or formal joining process as we like to keep our Society informal and open to all. If you would like to join us please send an email expressing your wish to the Secretary at
email@example.com who will be pleased to answer any questions and ensure you are invited and welcomed at our next meeting.
Show decisions are made by those present at general meetings and the annual AGM. The dates and venues for these meetings are announced by email to all on the Society's email list. All are welcome to attend.
Decisions taken at these meetings are executed by a committee whose members are elected at the AGM. Also there is a constitution that sets out the framework for how all this should work.
First Show in 1902 The first Hurst Show organised by the Hurst Horticultural & Cottage Garden Society was in 1902, only during the war years and 1982 were missed, making 2023 our 110th Show. The Society was founded in 1902 in Hurst Girls School under the patronage of Mr. P.H. Martineau who lived in Hurst Lodge. He was elected President, and among the five vice-Presidents elected was Rev. E. Broome, then vicar of Hurst. The first show was held on Wednesday July 30th 1902 in Mr. Salter Chalker´s meadow. The 1903 and 1904 shows were held in the grounds of Hurst Lodge, and the fourth in 1905 at Haines Hill. The venue changed again in 1906 and 1907 to Hurst Grove. The Show quickly grew from its horticultural roots to providing a day of entertainment.
Old Show Poster From 1928 the show was held on August Bank Holiday Monday at Hatch Gate Farm and billed as Berkshire´s Greatest Holiday Show and thousands of visitors came to Wrestling Tournaments and to see mounted displays by the Royal Scots Greys, 8th Hussars and Bronco Riders. In fact, the Dale Martin Wrestling Tournament started in 1951, at a cost of £80, and matches continued to attract the crowds for 31 years until 1982. From 1934, the Hurst based Pelham´s Dodgems Roundabouts and Fun Fair, appeared at every show donating a percentage of their day´s takings which rose from £15 in their first year to £110 in 1984.
Signs of Decline In 1982, signs of decline were creeping into the Show due to the retirement of some Committee Members and the rising cost of tent hire. So for the first time in 71 years the show did not take place in 1983. However, it returned after a one-year break but made a loss of £2,138 leading to 1984 being the final Big Show.
Born Again Fortunately, a few members agreed to stay on the committee and voted to continue to organise a smaller show. Hurst Village Hall became the new home of a much scaled down event in 1985. The original title of "Hurst Horticultural and Cottage Garden Society" was used for 63 years until 1965 when the committee voted for a shortened version and dropped Cottage Garden from its name. However, in 1992 members voted to revert to the full title. Since 1985 the show has been regularly held on the last Saturday before August Bank Holiday at the Village Hall and continues to thrive. The schedule is reviewed to keep a pace with modern trends but also keep traditional classes alive. The Show continues to appeal to exhibitors including gardeners, jam makers, cooks, artists, and photographers to this day. Also visitors still come in their hundreds to the afternoon events.