History of the Society
The Society began with a meeting of "prominent gentlemen" in the Red Lion, behind the Town Hall on 5th May1884 which was regarded as a convivial meeting place for the gentry. H. Rawcliffe J.P. of Gillibrand Hall was elected President of the group which became Chorley & District Horticultural and Chrysanthemum Society. For the next 30 years the Society concentrated on Crysanthemums, excluding the "amateur gardeners" by setting high subscription rates and charging entry fees of 2/6 per exhibit at the annual flower show which was held at the Town Hall. These flower shows were open to the public, running over 2 days and including entertainment by Mr Thorpe's String Band.
Society records showed a deficit to the tune of £4-11s-6d at the close of the 19th century which may account for the membership being widened to include "amateurs"
Through the two world wars the Society continued to concentrate on Crysanthemums but gradually relaxed its rules with widening interest in all forms of gardening.
With gardening falling out of fashion in post war Britain the Society reached its lowest ebb in the 1970s and meetings struggled to attract more than a dozen or so members who huddled together through many winter night meetings at Hollinshead Church Hall.
A brief stay at the ill fated Motors Sports and Social club on Duke Street in the 1980s was followed by a move to our current home at Chorley Cricket Club where membership has gradually increased and the monthly meetings now regularly attract audiences of 70 or so.
2009 - 125 Years
We began our 125th anniversary with the planting of a commemorative tree in Chorley Town Centre by the President, Roy Fisher, MBE. followed in the spring by a recording of Radio 4's Gardener's Question Time at the Town Hall where resident host Eric Robson took questions from Society Members for the panel consisting of Chris Beardshaw, Bunny Guiness and Bob Flowerdew.
In the summer we held a garden party in the walled garden at Astley Park, complete with our own birthday cake
Later in the year we welcomed the internationally-known garden writer, lecturer and broadcaster, Roy Lancaster OBE, VMH and finished our celebrations with an RHS event when Mathew Biggs gave a talk on "The Back Gardens of Britain"
2014 - 130 Years
We rounded off our 130th year celebrations on Friday 17th October when about 60 members of the Society sat down and had a very good meal and enjoyable evening at The Pines Hotel