History of the East Dean & Friston Flower Show
Written by the late Fred Fuller in 1997 on the occasion of our Golden Jubilee.
Fred was the last of the Founder Members and an active member of the Committee for more than 50 years.
It all started as an idea of the late Tom Martin with the aim of raising funds to purchase much needed equipment for the East Dean & Friston Cricket Club.
Tom, a long time member of both the National and Eastbourne Horticultural Societies, had an excellent knowledge of Show procedures and with the committee of five ‘volunteer’ founder members and the full support of the Cricket Club, made plans for the first Show. It was to be held on August Bank Holiday Monday 1947 in conjunction with an all-day cricket match and was open to local residents and Cricket Club members. Much planning took place at Tom’s house at Friston during the spring and early summer of that year and the first East Dean & Friston Cricket Club Show was born. It was restricted to fruit and vegetables and was held in the open air on tables placed against the bottom wall of the cricket field. In excess of eighty entries were shown and the grand sum of £20 was raised for the Cricket Club.
Due to the success of the first Show it was decided to make it an annual event and the following year, the first official committee was formed: Chairman Tom Martin, Members Bill Armiger, Fred Fuller, Bob Irons, Jimmy Markwick, Frank Martin, Harry West, and Harry Comber, the Cricket Club representative. Regular meetings were held in the only available venue ‘The Tiger Inn Clubroom’. Needless to say these went on long into the night on many occasions! It was renamed The East Dean & Friston Flower Show and the schedule was expanded to include fruit, vegetables, flowers and home produce. This created a problem but the Hollington Club came to our rescue and loaned us a marquee which was successfully used until the new cricket pavilion was built in 1956.
In 1969 the parish council assumed responsibility for the recreation ground as we now know it. However, as some internal sections of the pavilion had to be removed to accommodate the show the parish council refused to allow it to continue at that location. They did however subsidise 50% of the hire cost of a marquee for that year.
By 1980 the Show was in danger of closing due to ever rising costs of the marquee and insurance but fortunately Mr & Mrs Davies-Gilbert offered the use of Dunwick Barn (now The Seven Sisters Sheep Centre) and for four years the Show was successfully staged there.
In 1984, thanks again to the generosity of Mr & Mrs J. Davies-Gilbert, the Show moved to the Bardolf Hall in the picturesque setting of Birling Manor gardens, where it remained for six years.
On August Bank Holiday Monday 2000, the Show was staged for the first time in our new Village Hall.
That seed which was first sown back in 1947 has flourished and grown into a grand oak, and we can boast of being one of the most successful village shows in Sussex.
Telephone: 01323 423089
This page last modified on: 09 May 2007