A Brief History of Hermitage Horticultural Society & Gardening Club

The Society was founded on Saturday 27th August 1921, when a General Meeting was held in the old school (where 4 new houses have since been built).

The following officers were elected: –

President:Mrs. Arnold of Hermitage House
Chairman:Col. West M.D. OBE Wolverton Lodge
Joint Secretaries:WE Hunt and AG Cheeseman
Committee Members:WE Boshier, D Bushell, W Brown, WG Briant, C Burgess
E Burgess, W Barlow, R Burgess, W Silvery, JW Baden,
C Sharpe, R Boswell
Hermitage House

The Officers agreed that the Society should hold an Annual Horticultural Show. The first Show was held in a 40ft.x 20ft. Marquee in the grounds of Hermitage House (now gone and replaced by six new houses near the entrance to Doctor’s Lane). A Marquee was hired at a cost of £3.00. Today this would be about £1,000.00.  The South Berkshire Silver Band gave 12 performances for £8.00.

Entrance fee to the Show and Fete was 1 shilling (5p) and for children 4 pence (1.5p). A special prize of a man’s shirt was given for the best garden or allotment over 10 poles.

In 1923 The Cold Ash Band was engaged to play from 6pm to 9.30pm. Lunch was 2 shillings and 6 pence (12.5p) per head. A charge of 3 pence (1.5p) was made for dancing in the enclosure.

Sideshows included: Roundabouts and bowling for a pig.  Prizes were 3 shillings, 2 shillings, and 1 shilling (15p, 10p and 5p), with a special prize of 10 shillings (50p)and 5 shillings (25p) for a collection of vegetables. The Show was open to residents of Hermitage, Marlston and Oare.

In 1931 permission was given by Sir William Alexander to use the grounds of Marlston House (now Brockhurst School) for the staging of shows. The Marconiphone (an early radio and record player) replaced the band.

Marlston House

The Society ceased to exist from 1933 until 1957.

On October 15th 1957, a Public Meeting was held in the old Church Hall which 60 people attended, when it was decided to restart the Horticultural Society.

The Following Officers were elected:

President:Brigadier R Towell
Chairman:Mr Edwards
Treasurer:Brigadier C Colyer
Joint Secretaries:Mr A Bell, Mr J Rouse
Committee:Messrs Grossart, Tuersley, R E Burgess

For a number of years, the Hermitage Horticultural Society held a Fete and Flower Shows at Hermitage County School, usually at the end of July, which also included sports events and side shows.

Although the Summer Fete has been dropped over the subsequent years, the Spring, Summer and Autumn Shows have grown in stature. There are now four evening meetings during the Autumn and Winter months, held at Hermitage Village Hall, on topics covering gardening and other general interest subjects.  At the AGM in 2013 it was agreed to change our name to Hermitage Horticultural Society and Gardening Club with the intention of making our Society more inclusive.

In 2015, a new Village Hall was completed at the north end of the Village and this became the venue for all future events.

Hermitage Old Village Hall