The Show Goes On

The blog opens with the wonderfully happy Mayor of Bridport, Ian Bark, on the sunshine-filled day a couple of weeks ago at the Melplash Agricultural Society Show.  It is SO good to have the shows back at last, after two silent years.

We’ve been missing Caddy Sitwell’s longest carrots. True to say, the Second and Third Prizes didn’t do quite so well as Caddy.   We’ve been missing Charlie’s award winning onions…
Dahlias…. (seriously, Third Prize? but that’s because Neil Hatch has been doing so brilliantly this year)…

And Roses… Collections,  Rhubarb,  and cabbages. Not to mention leeks,
and courgettes.  To say nothing of the trug.
It was vintage Melplash.  Charlie with Neil Hatch and his wife Lesley.  Prize time…. The Banksian Medal is for winning more prize money than any other exhibitor in the tent.  A rare prize.  And so, another brilliant Melplash was over and Charlie’s incredible trophy cabinet groaned even more.  A beautiful evening when we got home to walk the dogs.  The dahlia patch is extraordinary this year.  A week later – the meadow is cut, and mist was sweeping in on the morning of the Dorchester Show.  Charlie was already at the Horticultural Tent where he’d been setting up since 5am that morning.  When I arrived it had been a long day for many. Ron Benfield catching 40 winks.
Charlie, it goes almost without saying, had done exceptionally well.  The tent was filled with happy visitors.  I loved this brilliant bird made of vegetables by the very well named Charlie Flower.
I am guessing this unbelievably perfect cress dish was grown by Charlie’s sister?  But the real star of the show was Charlie McCormick’s wheelbarrow.
At the prize money collection window.  Then we went for a walk around the livestock displays. Incredible.  It’s so extraordinary to think that the Dorchester Show has been meeting every year since 1841. Scenes like this, farming people meeting together at this wonderful exhibition of so much farming and horticultural skill, and enjoying their best time.  All I want for Christmas is a sack saying Dorchester Agricultural Society.  The best tent.  Serious business back in the Horticultural Tent Secretary and Stewards’ area.  The tent was emptying out for the day.  So was the car field.  I came back on Sunday to watch the Grand Parade – show horses leading the way.  Rain swept in briefly but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.  The fancy dress sheep, Queen and Paddington Bear.  Tractor cup giving.
And more cups, back at the Horticultural tent.  (Not shown: Charlie collecting his second Banksian Medal of the year.  The RHS had sent it in the post to the society, but the postal strike meant it hadn’t arrived in time!).


Charlie and Neil, two great growers.  Ron packing up for another year.  Heaviest pumpkin leaves the tent.  Charlie didn’t grow one this year!  Empty for another year. 

And the show, just like that, was at an end.  The exhibitors left, wishing each other a happy Christmas, and see you next year.

For a brief minute, we had stepped into a timeless world, and we somehow all quietly know amongst ourselves that 181 years from now, the Dorchester Show will still be running, when all the current troubles of the world will be history.


Charlie, congratulations, you are a magnificent gardener. Such beautiful flowers and vegetables. Lovely pictures of the rest of the event.

Darlene Chandler

Dear Ben and Charlie, I wish to extend my condolences on the death of Queen Elizabeth. I feel almost as though I’ve lost a distant but dear family member. She was there in the background throughout my whole life.

It was so good to see this post on the Melplash show, a reminder that good things can and will endure even as times change. As I write I am listening to the BBC’s special coverage of The Queen’s passing. All over the world, “foreigners” like me are moved by this loss, but hopeful for the future of your great country. God bless you all! 🙏❤️


Diane Keane

I thoroughly enjoy this show – almost feel I was there! Charlie is the man of the moment!

Eleanor Villeneuve

How wonderful! All of it! Congratulations to Charlie for all of his very hard work, especially given the weather we’ve had on both sides of the pond this year. We are having our first real rain in two months – I hope it gives the dahlias some new life before our first hard frost. Thanks for showing us this timeless way of life Ben.

Alicia Whitaker

Absolutely, stunningly gorgeous. Overwhelming beautiful 🌸

Kath Maire

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