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Suffolk Show – A Great Day Out

The aims of the Suffolk Agricultural Association are:

the advancement of agriculture and the encouragement of industry, skill and good conduct among labourers and servants in husbandry.

The East Suffolk Agricultural Association was formed as a charity in 1831 by a group of farmers and landowners who met at the White Hart in Wickham Market to discuss the possibility of holding an agricultural show. The first show was held on 21 September 1832 at Wickham Market with the Earl of Stradbroke as President. In 1833 the West Suffolk Association began its own show and the two ran side by side for over 20 years. The early East Suffolk shows were held alternately at Wickham Market and Saxmundham for thirteen years and then moved around the county.

In 1856 the two associations merged to form the Suffolk Agricultural Association. The first of the new Suffolk shows was held in the centre of the county at Stowmarket and then moved to different venues. It was often held on the estate of the current President. Whilst Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds were the most popular sites, Stowmarket, Saxmundham, Beccles, Framlingham and Sudbury also hosted several shows. The practice of moving around the county continued until, in 1959, a 130 acre site was purchased on Bucklesham Road, Ipswich for a permanent Suffolk Showground. Since 1960 the show has been held on this site. The Showground was re-branded ‘Trinity Park’ to celebrate the Association’s 175th anniversary in 2006. This brand is supported by three life-size sculptures of a Suffolk Horse stallion, a Red Poll bull and a Suffolk ram, known as the Suffolk Trinity.

The archives of the Suffolk Agricultural Association are available for study at the Ipswich Branch of Suffolk Archives, Ref GC491.  The collection includes:

  • Minutes 1855-1973;
  • A comprehensive series of newspaper cuttings 1932-1990;
  • Photographs 1948-1979, including some of the many royal visitors to the Show over the years;
  • Financial records 1831-1982;
  • A fantastic run of bound volumes of catalogues, programmes, schedule of prizes etc 1833-1976, which include layout plans, a membership book 1948-1950, farms competition judging books and, prize certificates etc.