The Society's Early History
In 1988 Geoff Stebbings, Head Gardener from 1984 to 1989, sought to gauge potential interest in a 'Friends of Myddelton' organisation.In 1991, encouraged by Eric Taylor of the London Group of the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG) and Richard Wassell of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), a 'Committee of Friends' met at Myddelton House. Some 40-50 people attended and formed an ad hoc committee, chaired by Eric Taylor, to formulate a strategy for generating interest in Myddelton House garden and draw up a draft constitution for a supporters' society. One of the founding members, Mrs Jill Billington, produced brief histories of the garden and E A Bowles' life for use in publicity. A constitution was formulated drawing on the expertise of local solicitor Steuart Way (d. 2002) and the initial application for registered status made to the Charity Commission on 11 February 1992. The Committee Secretary , Mrs Enid Eddington, then oversaw the lengthy process of references and correspondence that finally resulted in our becoming a registered charity in May 1993.
On 29 February 1992 Professor William T Stearn (1911-2001) gave the Society's inaugural lecture at Myddelton House and on 1 May 1993 the first annual general meeting was held at which Charles Kingdom (1913-2003) was elected Chairman. Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles was elected President along with Mrs Frances Perry (1907-1993) and Mrs Elizabeth Parker-Jervis (1931-2010) as Vice Presidents.
The Society held its first garden open day at Myddelton House in cooperation with LVRPA and the NCCPG 23 May 1993 and has successfully held two open days a year until 2010 when the Visitor Centre opened.
On 31st December 1993 the Society had 84 members rising to over 100 in 1999 and membership now stands at approximately 200.