The History of The Suffolk Show

Looking back at the history of the Suffolk Show—a quintessentially Suffolk day out for everyone!

 suffolk show, ipswich

We love the Suffolk Show here at the Record Office! It’s always a fantastic opportunity for us to shout about what we do (including, this year, ‘The Hold’!), and to show Suffolk people some of the rich heritage we care for on their behalf. We hope you enjoyed this year’s event – we thought it would be nice to wrap-up our own show experience with a little wander through the rich history of this ‘superbly Suffolk’ day out!

In 1831, a group of landowners and progres-sive farmers met at the White Hart, Wickham Market, to discuss the possibility of holding an agricultural show. The group formed the East Suffolk Agricultural Association (we hold a fascinating range of archives from the Suffolk Agricultural Association at our Ipswich branch!).

The Agricultural Association set themselves the task of improving farming techniques in their county by holding an annual show. Since this date, the Suffolk Show has mirrored and helped to shape agriculture and rural life in Suffolk.

The first show was held on 21 September 1831 at Wickham Market and embraced only East Suffolk with the Earl of Stradbroke as president. West Suffolk started their own show the following year and for over twenty years the two shows existed side by side. After the two shows merged, the Show moved round the county, often on the estate of the current President. In 1856, the East and West Suffolk shows amalgamated to form the Suffolk Agricultural Association.

The first of the new Suffolk shows was held in the centre of the county at Stowmarket and it then moved to different areas every year. While Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds were the most popular sites, Stowmarket, Saxmundham, Beccles, Framlingham and Sudbury also hosted several shows. This practice continued until, in 1959, a 130-acre site was purchased on Bucklesham Road, Ipswich for a permanent Suffolk Showground. Since 1960 the show has been held on this site.

Agricultural associations sought to improve agricultural methods by, for example, judging farm animals from leading breeders, holding ploughing matches and rewarding cash prizes to men and women who worked on the land and contributed to improving agriculture.

The East Anglian Daily Times has also been a great supporter over the years. Reporting on the Royal Show at Ipswich in 1934 it was noted that special thanks were due to Mr C H Clarke of the East Anglian Times ‘who undertook the whole of the Press Publicity work at home and on the continent for a considerable period before the Show, and stimulated a sustained interest in the event until it was assured of success’.

As part of its ongoing development and to celebrate the Association’s 175th anniversary, the Showground was re-branded TRINITY PARK. This brand is supported by three life-size sculptures of a Suffolk Horse stallion, a Red Poll bull and a Suffolk ram, known as the Suffolk Trinity, which take pride of place at the redesigned main entrance.

Send your memories of the Suffolk Show to suffolk.remembers@suffolk.gov.uk

Looking forward to seeing you next year!

www.thehold.org.uk