History

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Our Show is named after the Countess of Warwick who was born at Easton Lodge into the Maynard family. The last Viscountess Maynard, who died in 1857, started the tradition of an annual flower show. This was revived by the Countess as part of a cottage garden show, with gardens judged prior to the show. The big house and beautiful gardens were opened and all sorts of sporting activities were arranged. The tremendous number of exhibits entered and displayed in the Horticultural marquee that you see today are reminiscent of those shows which came to an end just before WW2. The Rev’d Jack Filby in turn looked to these traditions when the first Countess of Warwick’s Country Show was held in September 1990. Mrs Bunty Spurrier, granddaughter of the Countess, opened the show and read the commentary on the horse parade.

Our Show in Little Easton, (part of what is known as the Five Parishes), is set in beautiful countryside and in the summer months the lanes and hedgerows look at thier best. The grounds of Little Easton Manor, so kindly opened for us by the Pedley family, have been described as ‘A jewel of England perfectly set’. The Barn Theatre is one of the finest and oldest Tithe barns in the country with magnificent oak timbers and an ancient tile roof. The remains of a mediaeval moat can still be seen bordering its car park. The list of names who have performed in the Barn include Ellen Terry, Bernard Shaw, H G Wells, Gracie Fields, Charlie Chaplin, among many others. Although Easton Lodge itself was destroyed by fire during the war, the formal gardens designed by Harold Peto are being restored.

Our churches:
Little Easton is renowned for its sculpted monuments and also reflects the village’s association with the United States Army Air Force bomber group based at Easton Lodge with its two modern stained glass “Crusader” windows. The hostage windows in Broxted are also modern: when John McCarthy was taken hostage in Beirut, his parents lived next door to the church. Tilty, with its remarkable east window, was originally the gate house to a Cistercian Abbey, but after the dissolution of the monasteries was left as a chapel for local people. Great Easton is the “home” of the Five Parishes bell ringers. It features a magnificent reredos (altar screen). The fifth church making up the Five Parishes is at Chickney , a little gem amongst the trees! This is now a redundant church, cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust.

The aim of our Show is two-fold: firstly we continue to celebrate life in the countryside, both past and present. Secondly, we raise money to support these four churches. Most of the proceeds of Show are passed to the churches to help with their upkeep. Each year some £80/£100,000 is needed. Apart from normal day-to-day running expenses, there is always something to be restored. Recently the stained glass windows in the Bourchier (Maynard) chapel of Little Easton church have been restored by Cathedral Studios in Canterbury, costing about £30,000. Both Broxted and Tilty are undertaking work on their belfries – not a routine job as it has to fit in with the hibernation and breeding timetables of the bats!

Without the support of you our visitors, the volunteers who help before, during and after the Show, the people who donate so generously in so many ways, the owners of the land where the showground is located, the Show would not be the success it is.
Thank you each and every one of you.

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