over one hundred years ago...
In 1904 (or thereabouts) the Ewhurst Horticultural Society secured permission from the squire, to host the first village flower show at High Edser Farm. A procession of excited children marching behind a band to a marquee signalled the start of the show, filled with displays of greenhouse plants from local estates. A variety of classes were contested from allotments, cottage gardens and individual classes for flowers, fruit and vegetables. And for the children, collections of grasses or wild flowers, needlework and drawing.
Afterwards there were egg & spoon and wheelbarrow races for children and adults, and teas served in a decorated barn supervised by the ladies of the estate, with all enjoying a dance in the evening.
It was from this early celebration the village carnival blossomed.
After the end of the First World War the show was revived in Cumbers Field, the area opposite Hazelbank now given to housing. Moving again in the 20s to Downhurst Meadows, it was later in the 30s a fair arrived to join the show, pulled by steam engines and followed keenly by the village children. One of the main show attractions at this time was the sports meet, which drew athletes from surrounding villages as far afield as Horsham.
With the onset of the Second World War the Horticultural Society appears to have closed, restarting again in 1945. Committee meeting minutes of 1953 show the sole object of the Society was to organise the annual flower show with sideshows and sports, followed by a dance in the Church Hall (now the Village Hall). At this time the venue was Broomers Field, where it remained until 1985.
In 1978 after many changes, financial crises and difficulties finding volunteers to run the event, the Society recognised they no longer had the resources to organise the summer show and the reins for everything except the horticultural show were handed to a volunteer who launched the first village carnival in 1979.
Today a voluntary committee with the permission of the Ewhurst and Ellens Green Parish Council manage the organisation, promotion and finances of the carnival with work starting nearly a year in advance. Held every other year at the Ewhurst recreation ground and with fabulous live music in the evening, the carnival is supported by kind donations from local businesses and through the efforts of every single village (and beyond) group and society.
Bringing a smile to people’s faces and raising funds for village projects, the carnival is a much anticipated celebration of village life - long may it continue!
Thanks to Joan Campbell-Taylor, author of A History of the Ewhurst Horticultural Show & Carnival 1990, for the dates and insight used to compile this article.
Every penny of profit is donated to village good causes.
Last year the Carnival Fund was split between: Ewhurst School's Dove Centre appeal, Rainbow's End Pre-School, the Church Roof appeal, Ewhurst Brownies, Ewhurst Cubs, Ewhurst football team and Sayers Croft Trust.