About the Show
Anyone who has lived in Claygate for more than a year will be familiar with the Flower & Village Show held annually on the second or third Saturday in July. This is the day the recreation ground is packed with 5,000 to 6,000 people around the multitude of tents and entertainment features.
The show is now in its 120th year, and it all began in April 1903 when the 5th Baron Foley chaired a meeting at the Claygate Institute in Common Lane to “consider the advisability of holding a Flower Show and Industrial Exhibition in connection with the village” to match the flower shows in Esher and Oxshott. The new rail link to Waterloo had been constructed by this time and the potential of residential development in Claygate had been realised.
The show has been held every year since 1903, except during the two world wars and two years when COVID was prevalent. An extract from the minute book in March 1915 reads, “Owing to the very strenuous times in which the Country found itself, the many calls those connected with the Show had upon their pockets, and the Sorrow in many families, it was resolved that the Show should not be held this year.”
Precise details of the early years’ events are lost but the format of the show was much as it is today. Sadly there is no longer a Parade of Cart Horses or a Baby show, but Dancing on the Field continues in the form of the Morris Men and there is evidence that little has changed for exhibitors displaying their home-grown flowers, fruit and vegetables - except that now we have a lot more classes.
The original concept of the “Industrial Exhibition” has become the Handicrafts, Art and Domestic divisions and there is no doubt that embroidery, painting, Victoria sandwich cakes and home-made jams would have featured in the show over a hundred years ago. The original objectives have been preserved - basically to promote an interest in horticulture, arts and crafts and for Claygate to “show itself off” - enhancing the sense of community and making an enjoyable afternoon’s outing.
Today, the Flower Show Committee try to make the occasion a day not only for everyone who plants, paints, bakes or makes anything to show off their achievements, but also a day to get together socially with neighbours, family and friends and be entertained throughout the afternoon. The junior section has grown in size with hundreds of individual exhibits from ages 3yrs to 16yrs. There is the classic car display, the dancing and music of various kinds performed by a variety of age-groups, the children’s races, farm animals and the dog show - and all the while there is the fun-fair with its many rides and activities.
It is a challenge for visitors to do justice to all the entertainment, to visit the commercial and community stalls, to inspect all the exhibits in the marquee and still find time for some bar or teatime refreshment.
To see photos of the show from years gone by please click here.