A Potted History of Rickmansworth and District Horticultural Society

One of the most remarkable trends between two world wars was the growth in popularity of gardening as a hobby.  This was attributed to the rapid strides made in rehousing after 1918.  People were moved out of congested areas and, for the first time, they had gardens of their own and a great desire to ‘get back to nature’.  Added to this was the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign during the last war.

Several highly successful Flower Shows were held by the Rickmansworth Townswomen’s Guild in 1933 to 1935. Following this success and with such a growth of enthusiasm, it was decided to form the Rickmansworth and District Horticultural Society in 1936. The Rt. Hon. Sir Dennis Herbert P.C., K.B.E., MP was unanimously elected as President, and the following two years saw the Society grow from strength to strength.

However, in the early months of 1939 the sky was cloudless for gardeners but the clouds of war were gathering over Europe. Shows were cancelled.  Cups and trophies were deposited by trustees at the Rickmansworth Branch of Barclays bank and activities were suspended. Happily the fearful aerial bombardment that was predicted did not materialise and its possibility became much less likely.  To some extent life settled down. People were now more in need than ever for some form of distraction. What more useful task than renewed efforts in their gardens.

Some activities of the Society were resumed in 1941.  Emphasis, of course, was placed on the cultivation of vegetables, but in spite of the vital need for the production of food stuff, a plea was issued to members not to neglect flowers as their beauty was even more desirable in the dark days of the war.

In 1949 a full programme of lectures and two shows were reinstated

The society continued to thrive. The number of annual shows was increased to three, monthly Open Evenings with speakers and  visits to gardens and places of interest were arranged. In recent years an annual Quiz Supper was added

However, much has changed in the past 70 years, with many other competing activities available, particularly in the Summer months. For the time being, the Summer show has been dropped and the Society has changed its name to “The Rickmansworth Garden, Arts and Homecrafts Society” to emphasise that the scope of its interests is wider than just horticulture.  The object of the society remains today as it was in 1936 :“To stimulate interest in horticulture and home crafts, and to promote a friendly rivalry and fellowship among residents in the neighbourhood.”   It is always delighted to welcome new members.

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