Scope and Content

Contains: Records of the Old Board of Agriculture including accounts 1794-1820; minutes books 1794-1822; registers of members 1793-1819; letter books 1793--1822; agricultural works commissioned by the Old Board of Agriculture: A survey of the Isle of Wight 1802; report of Flanders (in French) 1819-1820; general view of the agriculture in Hampshire 1803-1804; photocopy of Charter 1793.

Records of the Royal Agriculture Society including ledgers 1838-1970; cash books 1940-1966; journals 1838-1857; yearly balance sheets 1890-1965 [1892 missing]; statements of account 1908-1953; bank statements 1952-1967; wages books 1947-1968; expenditure register, showyard staff 1913-1960; income registers, shows 1939-1966; register of ticket sales 1953-1964; statements of accounts, Superintendent and Surveyer of the Showyard 1898-1949; accounts of research fund 1924-1953, Park Royal 1904-1907, Woburn Experimental farm c1880-1921, Harewood House 1893-1900, Hills bequest 1896-1925, Old Superannuation Fund 1911-1939; French Peasant Farmers 1870-1873; William Scott Abott Trust 1964-1965; minutes of Council 1838-1932, general meetings 1843-1844 and various committees including finance 1840-1962, Country Meetings 1843-1847, 1851-1911, general show 1911-1932, judges selection 1860-1947, showyard contracts 1865-1879, showyard works 1878-1939, implement 1857-1936, prizes 1874-1948, research 1922-1949, chemical 1854-1938, botanical and zoological 1896-1934, dairy 1881-1948, veterinary 1861-1953, potato diseases 1874-1875, seeds and plants 1872-1895, tuberculosis experiement 1910-1914, special experiments 1885-1889, education 1865-1907, National Agricultural Examination Board 1905--1955, Joint Board for Examination in Dairying 1896-1897, National Dairy Examination Board 1928-1948, journal 1855-1939, house 1844-1907, selection of officers 1867-1938, Park Royal 1901-1907, Woburn 1878-1921, Queen Victoria's Gift Fund 1897-1908, Jenkins Memorial 1887, occasional committees 1844-1906, Reduction of Expenditure 1854, French Peasant Farmers Fund 1870-1873, Lord Vernons Committee, 1867-1892, Sir John Thorold's Committee 1872-1892, Hunter Stallion 1885-1890, special byelaw 1888-1889, agriculture and food products 1893, special committee concerning grants 1980-1913, Joint chemical and finance 1914, emergency 1916-1920 dog show 1924-1925; agendas for Council 1841-1922, finance 1916-1962, occasional committees 1844-1867; printed reports of council 1874-1897; report of Sir John Thorold's Committee 1888; reports and recommendations of the Post War Agricultural Committee c1941-1945; registers of governors and members [c1840-1900]; registers of subscriptions and compositions 1838-1890; registers of annual members and payment of subscriptions 1891-1945, register of life members 1890-1899, lists of members of council 1838-1901; list of committees 1845-1868; list of directors and managers, Park Royal 1904-1906; register of members share transfers, Park Royal 1903-1906; list of subscriptions to the French Peasant Farmers Fund 1871-1873; inventories and valuations 1870-1888; administartative records relating to shows 1865-1935, Woburn Experimental Farm c1911-1920, Queen Victoria's Gift Fund c1897, Show and Breed Association 1958-1964 ; papers relating to the National Diploma in Agriculture Examinations and National Diploma in Dairying 1930-1939; long service award files 1960-1964; records relating to stocks 1892-1917; agreements and contracts and specifications of works concerning showgrounds 1872-1939; papers concerning charters and byelaws 1840, 1904-1935; photographs, press cuttings 1897-1958; specimen farm account books c1838-1851

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Agricultural Society of England was founded on 9 May 1838. After it had been proposed by the third Earl Spencer at the annual dinner of the Smithfield Club held on 11 December 1837. His proposal was prompted by a growing appreciation of the potential of applying science to agricultural operations and of the challenge posed by the food requirements of a rapidly rising urban and industrial population. A Committee was appointed to frame rules, appoint officers and report to a general meeting. The Committee of management framed the Society's ten objectives during May 1838 and the Society's motto 'Practice with Science' was adopted in 1839. The pattern of the Society's early activities were three general meetings of members held in December, May and July (the latter during the week of the Show in a country location) the others at the Society's first headquarters in Hanover Square which was acquired in 1841. General business was conducted by the Council at meetings held on the first Wednesday of each month. Specialist committees were established for veterinary, chemical, journal, country meetings etc. Additionally, open meetings were held at Hanover Square. The main areas of the Society's work during the nineteenth century were the publication of the Journal, the country meetings, consultancy and later agricultural education. By 1840 the Society had attracted some 2000 members and membership reached 7000 a few years later.

A growing rift between the Society and it's members was in existence in 1850's RASE's leading critic Samuel Sidney stated the Society's Council had 'too many gentlemen and too few working men'

During the First World War the Society contributed to the war effort and gave advice to the Government. RASE had representation of the Agricultural Wages Board immediately after World War I, although representation was precluded in the 1930's. RASE took a major part in the shaping of future agricultural policy during the Second World War.

It's independance enabled it to convene a conference, held on 12 April 1944, which agreed on many of the provisions later incorporated into the 1947 Agriculture Act. The increased levels of membership which followed the Second World War were not sustained during the 1950's. The question of a permanent site for RASE is a central pivot of the Society's history. The decision to establish the Park Royal showground in 1903 and 1905 nearly led to the collapse of RASE. The move to establish a permanent showground and later the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh in the early 1960's at first depressed membership as there was some initial disinclination for agricultrualists distant from the West Midlands to belong and take advantage of the facilities. The development of the Royal Show at its permanent site and the increasing sophistication of the Society's technical programme during the 1970's together with an overall expansion of its activities was reflected in a rise in membership only to be halted by the declining fortunes of agriculture during the 1980's. Stoneleigh now provides a year round programme of technical events, conferences and symposia and permanent demonstration units.


Old Board of Agriculture

A Accounts

B Administration

X Agricultural Works

Royal Agricultural Society of England

A Accounts

1 Principal ledgers

2 Principal Cash Books

3 Principal Journals

4 Principal Statements of Accounts

5 Principal Wage Books

6 Subsidiary Accounts, Show

7 Subsidiary Accounts, Research Fund

8 Subsidiary Accounts, Park Royal

9 Subsidiary Accounts, Farm

10 Subsidiary Accounts, Harewood House

11 Subsidiary Accounts, Hills Bequest

12 Subsidiary Accounts, Old Superannuation Fund

13 Subsidiary Accounts, French Peasant Farmers

14 Subsidiary Accounts, William Scott Abbott Trust

B Administration

1 General Minutes of Council

2 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Finance

3 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Show

4 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Research

5 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Education

6 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Journal

7 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, House

8 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Selection of Officers

9 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Park Royal

10 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Farm

11 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Queen Victoria's Gift Fund

12 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, Jenkins Memorial

13 Subsidiary Committee Minutes, mainly for Special and Occasional Committees

14 Agenda, for meetings of Council

15 Agenda for Subsidiary Committees

16 Printed Reports of Council

17 Printed Reports of Subsidary Committee

18 Lists of Governors and Members and of Subscriptions and Compositions

19 Lists of Members of Council and Attendance at Committees

20 Lists of Directors and Managers and Share Dealings, Park Royal

21 List of Members Subscriptions to the French Peasant Farmers Fund

22 Inventories and Valuations of Premises, Hanover Square

23 Other Administrative material relating to Subsidiary Committees

24 Other Administrative material, relating to Shows

25 Other Administrative material, relating to Park Royal

26 Volumes relating to the National Diploma in Agriculture Examination

27 Volumes relaing to the National Diploma in Dairying

28 Other Administrative Material relating to the NDA and NDD Examination Boards

29 Other Administrative Material relating to the Woburn Experimental Farm

30 Other Administrative Material relating to the Queen Victoria's Gift Fund

31 Other Material relating to administrative reform

32 Letter books and Circulars

33 Show and Breed Association Papers

C Legal Material

1 Capital

2 Rules and Charters

3 Other

4 Park Royal

D Social and Personal Material

E Specimen Farm Account Books

F Journals

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Records deposited in August 1973


Compiled by Caroline Gould, 19 December 2002 with reference to The Royal Agricultural Society of England 1938-1988; a Synoptic Overview, by N PW Goddard (Journal of Royal Agricultural Society of England vol 149 1988 p10-23)

Other Finding Aids

A detailed catalogue is available at the Museum of English Rural Life

Conditions Governing Use

Please contact the Archivist