The Society has been part of the community for over 50 years, with strong links to other local organisations. Our parties, lectures and other events, such as our annual meeting, are a chance for members to meet each other and chat informally to the committee.
Our main social gathering is the members’ Winter Party, organised at the end of January in the Church Hall. It regularly attracts around 100 guests who enjoy a buffet, wine and a fund-raising raffle.
Another well–established annual event is the Betjeman Lecture, held in memory of our late patron, Sir John Betjeman, which raises money for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust as Sir John suffered from this disease. Lectures by experts on subjects related to Bedford Park have proved very popular, so we have recently run additional talks. These are usually held in the Arts Education Schools Theatre, which has a bar and comfortable seating.
The Society supports the Bedford Park Festival Green Days with a stall selling a variety of Bedford Park memorabilia ranging from cards and books, to mugs, bags, umbrellas, tea towels and aprons. Our membership secretary is on hand to renew subscriptions and welcome new members.
Organised by St Michael and All Angels church, the weekend Green Days on Acton Green kick off the two-week Bedford Park Festival. The Society has contributed speakers for festival events and donates parts of the stall’s profits to the church.
We have recently also set up our stall at the church’s Christmas Fair.
Events in 2016
Green Day success
Better displays of our goods helped attract many visitors to the Society’s Green Days’ stall this year. Thanks to our Events and Merchandise team we have improved the look and accessibility of the stand For the first time we were open on both the Saturday and Sunday (10 and 11 June). Poor weather meant total takings were similar to previous years but the response was sufficiently encouraging for us to decide to continue our two-day presence next year.
Top sellers were aprons featuring the Society’s distinctive gate logo, and Bedford Park, Radical Suburb by Professor Andrew Saint, who was on hand to sign copies. The book is based on his lecture last year marking the centenary of the death of Jonathan T Carr, Bedford Park’s founder. We also introduced a new mug, decorated with lines from The Ballad Of Bedford Park, the anonymous satirical poem, which first appeared in the 17 December 11881 issue of the St James’s Gazette. The rain on Sunday resulted in the bonus sale of several umbrellas.
Also on hand were CHATR members campaigning against a third runway at Heathrow with balloons, maps and other information.
Christmas Fair gift stall
On 3 December the Society hosted a stall at the St Michael and All Angels’ Christmas Fair in St Peter’s Church, Southfield Road. As well as supporting this local event, our stall attracted sales of books, Bedford Park mementos, specially-themed Christmas items, stocking-fillers such as festive candles and other gift ideas.
Annual Betjeman lecture – Monday 12 December
Dr Mervyn Miller, the leading expert on garden cities, presented Bedford Park Society’s annual Betjeman lecture: The Spirit of Place in Letchworth Garden City on 12 December.
Proceeds go to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Sir John Betjeman, the first patron of the Society, suffered from this disease.