Great Comp Garden 2024 Summer Show

Two-day summer show held to help safeguard the historic Great Comp Garden in Kent with its rich history of suffragists and female sporting endeavours.

Great Comp House & Gardens

The 17th century manor house, Great Comp Garden in Kent has been undergoing renovations for the last few years. The roof of the 17th century Manor House has been replaced, and the internal space is being returned to its former glory in order to host events. During the renovations, an unusual find – a certificate – confirmed the fact that the Manor House was once home to a group of important suffragists.

The discovery of the certificate helped reveal how Great Comp was once a ‘salon’ that hosted the great and good of Edwardian society, including Eva McLaren the prominent suffragist who features on Milicent Fawcett’s plinth in Parliament Square today. McLaren spent her life trying to improve working conditions for women in Lancashire, helping to promote sexual health for women and also suffrage. She was a keen hockey player and along with a group of early feminists set about creating a centre for women’s hockey at Great Comp. Her money funded a pavilion where women could come and train (from across the south). They also filmed the first ever sports instructional ‘video’ here in the 1900s.

The large-scale essential renovations to save the 17th Century Manor House have stretched available resources. The Trustees who run the garden (open to visitors from March – October), hope that their two-day Summer Show, featuring the best in RHS award-winning and specialist plant nurseries and a live jazz band playing on the lawn will help safeguard the venue for future generations of visitors.

“The events we hold at Great Comp, our garden tours and revenue from The Old Dairy Tearoom are all an essential part of us saving the house and garden. It’s not easy running a visitor attraction in these economic times, but we remain positive and we hope one day to be able to put on an exhibition with The Hockey Museum, at Great Comp, to bring Eva McLaren and Frances Heron Maxwell’s stories to the wider public,” explains Curator William Dyson.

Taking place on the 10-11th of August 2024, the Summer Show is Great Comp Garden’s biggest event of the year and held when the garden is at its peak. Dyson has put together exhibitors for the show including many well regarded nurseries such as; Edulis, Plantbase, Moore & Moore Plants, Southon Plants, Dan Cooper Gardens, Miles Japanese Maples, The No Name Nursery, Rose Cottage Plants, Hedgehog Plants and The Laddingford Bee Keepers. Distinctive arts and crafts specialists from the county will also be showcasing their work.

Dyson will also be displaying and selling his rare and unusual salvia plants as he is well-known in the horticultural world for his salvias. “I am specifically drawn to Mexican shrubby variety and they form the nucleus of my breeding stock which in turn led to the foundation of my nursery. These wonderful plants, particularly the New World species, are more versatile than people realise; they have a diversity of flower colour and the length of flowering period (from May – November) is impressive. They bring excitement to the garden and bees love the nectar they produce,” adds Dyson.

More information about the event, full exhibitors list and for bookings can be found here.