This timeline has the most significant events in the society’s history as accurately as we know them. Unfortunately there are a few large gaps due to lack of records. A further timeline of George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition winners and adjudicators is available here.

1928The Suffolk Poetry Club formed by Mr Herbert Hudson and his wife, Mrs Joan Hudson, and by Mr Francis Engleheart.
1931The Suffolk Poetry Club membership is 20.
1933Membership is 33.
1936Public readings of members’ poetry given for the first time.
11th March 1939Ipswich Public Libraries hosts reading of 72 poems.
September 1939World War II forces closure of the club.
9th October 1952The club reformed under a new name: Suffolk Poetry Society, with 60-70 members. Mr Francis Engleheart chaired the inaugural meeting.
14th November 1952First committee elected: Chairman Mr Francis H A Engleheart (Chairman 1952-1963)Secretary Miss K TurnerTreasurer Miss Barbara CooperMembers Sir Francis MeynellMrs Joan HudsonMr W M MorfeyMr Hervey
29th November 1952First full committee meeting. Membership subscriptions determined:10/- pa Full membership2/6 pa Schoolchild membership2/- per meeting for visitors
Agreed 9-10 meetings per year in Ipswich.
1952Sir Francis Meynell elected President (1952-1967).
30th May 1953Membership was 42.
13th September 1953Membership was 51.
April 1955Portfolio created. Mr ACC Hervey was first Portfolio Group Secretary.
Unknown dateAlabaster statuette of George Crabbe given by unknown donor. Loaned to Ipswich Museum, then to Christchurch Mansion.
1954Following a suggestion by John Anthony Alexander Rous, the 4th Earl of Stradbroke (1947-1983), formerly Viscount Dulwich and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk (1948-1978), that a competition be held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Crabbe, the George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition was inaugurated.
7th August 1954Fund of £300 for prize money.
1955Silver Rose Bowl obtained from Mr W A Ager of F J Rogers, Ipswich.
1963Eric Sandon elected Chairman (1963-1971).
1963Suffolk Poetry 1952-1962 published by Norman Allard & Co Ltd, Ipswich.
1968Ralph Nixon Currey elected President (1968-1979).
1969Poems 1963-1969 published by SPS, printed by P F Barber (Printers) Haleigh, Ipswich, Suffolk.
1971Romilly Redfern elected Chairman (1971-1976).
1976Marguerite Wood elected Chair (1976-1988).
1978Number of adjudicators for Crabbe Competition reduced to two.
1979Hardiman Scott OBE elected President (1979-1999).
1983Award ceremony moved to Aldeburgh.
1986The Poet’s Gift published. Contained poems from each of the Crabbe Competition adjudicators (1955-1985). Edited by John Smith and Marguerite Wood. Profits went to the Masefield Memorial Trust (Society of Authors).
1988Catherine Dell elected as Chair (1988-1997).
1994First minuted reference to a Society Library. The family of Mary Usherwood donated many of the books.
1997Mike Bannister elected Chairman (1997-2002).
1997John Watts proposes a junior prize in the Crabbe Competition for 16-18 year-olds. (Not implemented, but see 2000-2001).
1999Herbert Lomas elected President (1999-2008).
2000Terry Butler proposes Junior section to the Crabbe Competition for 14-18 year-olds with book tokens for prizes to be called the Hardiman Scott Memorial Award. This was agreed, but the name later changed to The Hardiman Scott Award.
16th October 2000George Crabbe statuette moved to Aldeburgh Moot Hall Museum.
2001Suffolk – A Celebration, selected by Hardiman Scott published. Limited edition of 500 copies. Profits to the Hospice Movement.
2001Children’s Poetry Competition started. Silver Challenge Cup also by Mr W A Ager. Competition retitled Hardiman Scott Award.
2001Number of adjudicators for Crabbe Competition reduced to one.
2001Hardiman Scott Award run for the first time (by SPS).
2002Ionne Hammond elected Chairman (2002).
2002Beryl Sabel elected Chairman (2002-2007).
2003Hardiman Scott Award passed to the Poetry Trust.
2005Fairweather Stephenson and Co (renamed Fairweather Law Ltd in 2016), Solicitors, Leiston, Felixstowe and Aldeburgh begin sponsoring the George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition.
December 2006Library of 173 books relocated to University Campus Suffolk.
2007Frank Wood elected Chairman (2007).
2008Gerard Melia elected Chairman (2008).
2008Mike Bannister elected President (2009-2010).
2008Fred Ellis elected Chairman (2008-2011).
2010Twelve Rivers newsletter begun.
2010Pauline Stainer elected President (2010-2013).
2011Anne Boileau elected Chairman (2011-2014).
2012Singing Stone anthology published to commemorate 60th Anniversary.
2012Spanish Chestnut tree planted at The Priory, Stoke-by-Nayland to mark 60th Anniversary and to thank the Englehearts for their long support of the society.
4th March 2013First Desert Island Poems with Dr Ronald Blythe interviewed by Dr Frances Ward.
2014James Knox Whittet elected President (2014-2019). He begins a monthly e-newsletter to write about poets and significant poetry events.
2014Ian Griffiths elected Chairman (2014-2016).
14th March 2014Desert Island Poems with Lord Phillips of Sudbury interviewed by Dr Ronald Blythe.
31st May 20141st Festival of Suffolk Poetry, sponsored by The Limbourne Trust, featured three workshops, All of the Suffolk Poetry Cafés and readings by Kate Foley, James Knox Whittet, Caroline Gilfillan and culminating with the performance poet Luke Wright.
8th March 2015Suffolk Poetry Society becomes Registered Charity No 1162298 under the guidance of Lord Phillips of Sudbury.
2015Desert Island Poems with Terry Waite CBE interviewed by Lord Phillips of Sudbury.
30th May 20152nd Festival of Suffolk Poetry features Michael Laskey, Angela Locke, Mike Bannister and Anne Boileau.
2015Twelve Rivers acquires an ISSN.
2016Florence Cox elected Chair (2016-2020).
28th May 20163rd Festival of Suffolk Poetry features Myra Schneider and Dean Parkin.
2016Additional sponsorship of the Crabbe Competition from Alde Valley Spring Festival adds to prize money and supports the competition anthology. Additional Gift Aid raises total prize money to £1200.
2016Twelve Rivers becomes a magazine.
27th May 20174th Festival of Suffolk Poetry features Gregory Warren-Wilson and Nancy Mattson. Terry Waite CBE was also In Conversation with Lord Phillips of Sudbury.
27th October 2017Desert Islands Poems features Bunny Campione (of Antiques Roadshow) interviewed by Lord Phillips of Sudbury.
2017George Crabbe Poetry Competition adjudicated by Esther Morgan, 1st prize won by Jim Green
26th May 20185th Festival of Suffolk Poetry features Blake Morrison, Rebecca Watts and Susan Utting.
2018George Crabbe Poetry Competition adjudicated by André Mangeot, 1st Prize won by Caroline Price.
24th March 2019Kate Foley becomes President after James Knox Whittet stands down.
4th April 2019Desert Islands Poems features Luke Wright, interviewed by Alex Davies.
11th May 20196th Festival of Suffolk Poetry features Grevel Lindop and Kate Foley.

Presidents of Suffolk Poetry Society
1952-1967Sir Francis Meynell
1968-1979Ralph Nixon Currey
1979-1999Hardiman Scott OBE
1999-2008Herbert Lomas
2009-2010Mike Bannister
2010-2013Pauline Stainer
2014-2019James Knox Whittet
2019-2022Kate Foley
2022-George Szirtes

Chairmen/women of Suffolk Poetry Society
1952-1963Francis Engleheart
1963-1971Eric Sandon
1971-1976Romilly Redfern
1976-1988Marguerite Wood
1988-1997Catherine Dell
1997-2002Mike Bannister
2002Ionne Hammond
2002-2007Beryl Sabel
2007Frank Wood
2008Gerard Melia
2008-2011Fred Ellis
2011-2014Anne Boileau
2014-2016Ian Griffiths
2016-2020Florence Cox
2020-Beth Soule

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