History of FHS

Established in the 1870s the Freshwater Horticultural Society was first mentioned in the newspapers in 1878. A group of influential and wealthy gentlemen formed a committee and put on their first Summer Show with Alfred Tennyson as their President. The first Summer Show was held at Farringford in 1878.

Between 1878 and 1939 no less than 46 Summer Shows were held at Farringford.

The Hampshire Advertiser 14 Sept 1878 reports:

Howard Downman Bedingfeld’s Family History

Howard is reported by newspaper articles of the time as being one of the main founders of The Freshwater and Yarmouth Horticultural Society in the 1870s. He was on the Management Committee for a few years and was very much in favour of bee-keeping which he encouraged by putting up a prize for the best honey in the comb. He first came to the Island in the 1860s and took several addresses until he returned to Sussex at the end of the 1880s.

The Bedingfields are a very old Catholic family first found in England after 1066 with Ogerus de Pugeys de Bedingfield who was a Knight. He came over as part of the invasion by William The Conqueror during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The Bedingfield/Pugeys are of Norman descent with their forebears settling in Normandy along with King Rolo of Norway. Rolo was a Viking leader of the principality of Normandy, he was given the land of Normandy to end the looting of France. Having fought bravely, Ogerus was given land in Suffolk known as Badyngafelda – a pasture or meadow. The name became Bedingfield.

Howard Downman Bedingfeld was born in 1826 in Sussex into a wealthy family. He was the last of six brothers. One brother spent many years in the West Indies, another travelled to Australia where he was a doctor and magistrate. A third brother travelled to Mauritius where he was a police officer. A fourth brother spent time in France, whereas the fifth became a Royal Navy Captain, then Rear Admiral. He was twice navigator for Dr Livingstone’s explorations!