The History of The Priory Golfing Society

The formation of the Priory Golfing Society has often been the subject of "where and how" did it originate. The Priory at Acton has always been the reply, but until now, more precise evidence has been missing. With the help of old newspaper cuttings supplied by Dick Endacott (via his sister), we can be reasonably sure that members of the Acton Golf Club formed a golfing society in 1920 and named it the Priory. According to those cuttings, the Acton Golf Club was purchased for building purposes in 1919.

The meeting place for discussions and any following AGMs was the 'Berry Mead' Priory at Acton 9pictured here. The original entry in the minute book reads, "The third AGM was held at the Priory on Wednesday 5th December, 1923". In fact the AGM's were held in December for the next 39 years, until a motion in 1962 changed it to April due the poor weather affecting attendance's.

A significant note made at a gathering in 1924 was the passing of the then President Mr. Baldwin (first Mayor of Acton). He presented of the Baldwin Trophy in 1920, still played for today on the basis of the four best aggregate Stableford rounds in the year. Matches were held throughout the year on the basis of a medal round in the morning, in two divisions, for the ‘Society Spoons’, then a bogey round in the afternoon. Apart from the Baldwin Trophy, the Cook Trophy was also competed for on a knock-out basis throughout the year. This subsequently became known as the President's Cup. Games were played in 1924 at Ashford Manor, Burnham Beeches, Bushey Hall, Coomb Hill, Flackwell Heath, Fulwell, Harewood Downs, Moor Park, Moseley Hurst and Sudbury.

In 1925 the Captain and Secretary were granted the honour of the tee after which balls were drawn for priority of start, the last out to act as starter.

In the following seasons a great variety of courses were played, often being arranged as a result of Club Secretaries writing to the Priory inviting them to come and play on their course.For example 21st February 1926 Mr. R. Goring-Thomas, Secretary of Worplesdon, asked the Society to visit them that year. 1926 also saw the introduction of the Fixture List; also resolution passed that members 'Be allowed to shelter in inclement weather'. In 1926,
the committee gave authority to the design of a Captains Board to hang in the Priory club. Subs were increased to 7/6 per annum for members..non members 15/-.

1927 saw the introduction of an annual dinner at a charge of 6/6d per head, with five guineas for the concert afterwards
, the cost of which was subsidised by the Society. Meetings were held that year at Wentworth, Bramshott, Sudbury and Maidenhead. Average attendance was 19 that year.
At the end of that year, Society funds were £5.0s.8d as opposed to £3.12s.3d the previous year. Also in 1927 the Society held meetings at Wentworth and Denham. A cold supper was held at 2/6 (12½p) per head.

On 3rd April 1928 it was decided that members introducing visitors should play with them, and that the visitor would not be allowed to mark the member's card.
1928 also saw the introduction of stamped addressed post cards for replies to the Secretary. Courses visited included Ashford Manor, St Georges Hill, Walton Heath, Denham, Fulwell and Royal Wimbledon.
Average attendance was boosted to 22.

The 1929 annual report reported that nine meetings had been held with average attendance of twenty three and the Society's membership was full at the required fifty.

1930 Society rule passed,"balls could be cleaned when on the green".

1934 Members requested to attend a golf day at Sudbury, and to retire afterwards to "The Priory Club" for social intercourse.

Ten meetings were held in 1935. Courses booked for the following year included Ashridge, Tyrells Wood, Gerrards Cross and Harewood Downs.

In 1937 the members were divided into "Senior" and "Junior" categories for the "Spoons" competitions.

1st March, 1938 was the first mention of Endacott E.A. (father to A. "Dick" Endacott a member until 2001). Throughout 1938 they had to appoint a paid secretary, for one guinea a meeting plus expenses. This arrangement only seems to have operated for one year.

In 1939 forty six members were in the Society at the outbreak of war.

On 11th April, 1946 a meeting held at West Middlesex Golf Club. It was agreed to revive the Society. The Baldwin and Cook Cups were located. During 1946 ten new members were introduced to the Society, one being R. E. Farndon.

Bob father to present member David, subsequently became Captain for the seasons 1952 and 1953 and then as President of the Society from 1958 until 1978.

The stock of "Spoons" ran out. The replacement price, quoted by Alman Snell & Sons, at 13/6d each was considered too expensive and the practise ceased!

1947 at the AGM held at the Kings Head, Acton, it was agreed to limit the Society to thirty. It was mentioned that transportation was quite a problem and a coach was arranged for members to go to Effingham at 6d per head.

In 1948 Mr H A Booth, a Committee member, invited the Committee to the House of Commons and '...a most instructive day was spent learning the art of "Construction", Destruction" and "Consumption"...'

In 1949 there was the first record of a meeting being held at The Berkshire in June. It has not been possible to confirm that this was the earliest meeting on those courses.

November 1951 saw a committee meeting establish the present rule "That candidates for new membership should be members of a recognised Golf Club", duly passed.

4th February, 1953 saw the introduction of Lionel Childs, a subsequent Captain and Vice President of the Society. The Secretary also expressed concern that some clubs were now beginning to ask £1.0s.0d. for the day's two rounds of golf, so it was agreed that the daily charge to members be increased to £1.5s.0d.

On 27th October 1953 two new members proposed, seconded and elected - Mr George T. Holloway (Captain 1967, presenter of the "Holloway Trophy" in 1968 and President of the Society from (1987-1994) and Mr. J.W. Hourd (Society Secretary 1961 -1987) and Patron 1987-1998.

In 1958 Mr. A. "Dick" Endacott admitted (Captain 1964 and President 1979 -1983. Elected Honorary Life Member till his death in 2001). He presented the "Dick Endacott Decanter" in 1984.

On 17th March 1960 Mr. E.A. Langsdon was elected a member - he presented the 'Langsdon Trophy' in 1964. On 7th September 1960, a committee meeting recorded that Vice Captain Jack Hourd was not in a position to accept Captaincy next year. 1961. "Red letter-day" Jack became Secretary instead.

In 1963 Vice President 'Teddie' Brown was elected Captain.

In 1967 it was agreed that the Langsdon Trophy  be competed for on 'Captain's Day'. Also during that year David Squire, an honorary member, presented the 'David Squire Trophy', now played for at one of the Society's meetings.

February 1968 saw the presentation to the Society of the 'George Holloway Trophy', now played for at one of the Society's meetings.

During 1969, the membership of the Society continued to increase and such famous names as Peter Daniel, Peter Geraghty and Brian Wilkinson were introduced and accepted. (All three of these members subsequently became Captains of the Society).

In 1970 A dinner dance to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Society was held at the Kensington Close Hotel; some ninety four members and guests attended this function.

The main feature of 1974 was the presentation to Glyn Davies of a silver salver to commemorate his winning all the Society's trophies in 1973:

  • The Baldwin Cup 287 (played on basis of four best medal rounds)
  • The Cook Cup 1972
  • The Holloway Trophy 1973
  • The David Squire Trophy 1973
  • The Langsdon Trophy 1973
and Glyn's handicap at the time was just 2.

1978 David Farndon proposed and elected, later to become Captain and President, following in his fathers footsteps.

In 1979 Bob Farndon retired from his long term of 'Presidency' and was made the first Patron of the Society. 1980 saw the first playing for the "Bill Watford Trophy" and won by Keith Atkinson, his first of many trophy wins. 1981 unfortunately started on a sad note with the passing of Bob Farndon. Dick Endacott was elected President.

1982 Edna Farndon presented a trophy in memory of Bob Farndon.

In 1983 to mark his retirement as President Dick Endacott presented "The Dick Endacott Trophy.

1985 24th of June, Denham Golf Club. Our Secretary Jack Hourd declined the round in the afternoon as he had met an old cricket pal and thought a couple of malt whiskies with him would be appropriate. Jack's old cricket pal turned out to be none other than the legendary Middlesex and England cricketer Denis Compton.

On 4th June 1986 a committee meeting held at Burhill saw the election of two new officers to the Society, Aubrey Duke as Treasurer and Keith Atkinson as Secretary. Both appointments were to be effective from the 1987 AGM.

On 24th April 1987, the AGM at Northwood Golf Club saw the ending of Jack Hourd's long term as Secretary - 26 years. Jack was made a Patron and Life Member and said "that many years of pleasure in the company of the Society's members had been his reward". Later in the year a presentation was made to Jack and his wife at the Denham meeting in appreciation of his efforts for the Society. His had been a long and patient service and a mark of his contribution was the gradual increase in the membership. The membership limit was increased to a maximum of eighty, although the present figure stands at seventy.

In 1990 as a celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the Society, a meeting was held at the Belfry. Eighteen members and their ladies were present for the weekend's golf with an informal dinner on the Saturday 9th May 1990. The outing was voted very enjoyable and Peter Daniel presented the Lady winner, Mrs Moggeridge, with a fine cut glass vase.

May 1991 saw the second annual get together for members and their ladies held at the Gloucester Hotel and Country Club. In view of its popularity, the Secretary was to make this an annual event. However the following year saw decreased attendance and with an economic downturn the proposal was deferred. Jack Hourd celebrated his 87th birthday and presented the "Jack Hourd Plate" with the express wish that it be won annually by the player with the best 18 hole Stableford score, including the Xmas meeting. This year also saw the sudden death of Rick Croydon, joined 1987, who died while playing squash. His father kindly donated the "Richard Croydon Cup" in his memory. It is presented annually for the best three front nine hole aggregate Stableford point scores, throughout the year.

1995 President George Holloway's death was announced. Brian Wilkinson was elected President and David Farndon became Vice President.

On 19th July, the75th Anniversary celebration meeting was held at Denham GC. After golf 43 members and their guests sat down to an excellent dinner. The Denham Vice Captain, one Henry Fox, was the after-dinner speaker.

In 1996 membership reached 70 and it was decided to cap the numbers at eighty.

In May 1998 Jack Hourd died. At his death he had been Patron and Life Member of the Society since his retirement as Secretary (26 years), in 1987. He had been a member since 1953 some 45 years.

In 2000, David Farndon took over as President from Brian Wilkinson. Aubrey Duke retired as Treasurer after 14 years in the job. John Foster was elected to the post. Membership was ailing and an appeal was made for new members.

In 2002 at the AGM a request was received from Keith Atkinson, Secretary since 1987, to stand down.

In 2003 Keith was adamant this was his last in office and it was unanimously agreed to appoint him Patron of the Society. John Foster agreed to be appointed Secretary (making him only the 5th secretary since 1945 some 58 years) with Howard Stokes as Treasurer. Past President Brian Wilkinson was appointed a Life Member. Keith Jupp's widow presented the "Keith Jupp Memorial Trophy".

In 2004 there were some discussion as to playing venues and relative costs ensued. It was agreed to rotate at least two courses annually to provide greater interest. Martin Peat elected Vice President.

In 2005 previous long term regulars The New Zealand and Denham courses were dropped, due to cost,. Captain John Dixson-Smith mounted a new membership campaign with incentives to members for introducing recruits to the Society. With the overall age of the Society's membership tending to increase, it was felt that 18/27 hole society days should be more the norm. The Berkshire Spring event it was agreed should stay as a 36 hole day.

In 2006, membership stood at 54 with the aim to make 60 by year end. A more modern tie with a "Prior " motif was introduced and sold well at £15. David Farndon stood down as President after 5 years and Martin Peat was elected in his stead. Kim Harris became Vice President.

2007 West Hill and Worplesdon were introduced much to the delight of members, but the highlight was undoubtedly a visit to the RAC Club at Epsom under the stewardship of Captain Joe Lambert. A super day was followed by dinner in a private dining room. Unfortunately, after many years, this year was to be the last Christmas meeting held at The Berkshire. A price increase to £100 for Mid Winter 18 holes and lunch was felt to be too high. The Club declined to be flexible to negotiation and this fixture moved to West Hill in 2008. A resolution was passed to increase subs to £20 primarily to assist with the purchase of decent prizes.

Season 2008 fixtures included Hindhead for the first time, Worpelsdon, Moor Park for the Captain's day, and two visits to West Hill where we moved for the Christmas event. Old regulars, Burnham Beeches, Beaconsfield and The Berkshire (Spring meeting), made up the list. Marcus Humphries, grandson of Bob Farndon, and nephew of David Farndon, joined the Society giving a third generation of family membership. This years captain Douglas Wilson kindly presented a solid silver Salver to be competed for at an annual event. With 77 members average attendance per meeting was 29.

2009 was a highly successful year under the Captaincy of Paul Green, who had his Captains day at Henley, a new course for the Priory. The Berkshire meeting was dropped after many years due to cost. To celebrate his Captaincy of West Essex Golf Club, John Dixson-Smith who was Captain of the Society in 2005, invited the Society to his club for an afternoon of golf followed by a boisterous dinner. Other courses played included Moor Park, West Byfleet, and Worplesdon. The Christmas meeting and dinner was again held by popular demand at West Hill and was attended by 63 members and guests. Membership is now at an all time high of 83.

10 was our 90th Anniversary Year under the captaincy of Peter Worne, the main highlight of a memorable year being the Annivers
ary Dinner at the Naval Club in Mayfair. In excess of 50 members and wives enjoyed a sumptuous banquet in wonderful surroundings.
Membership increased to 93, an all time record for the Society. Four new courses were played during the year, at Gerrards Cross, Woking, Betchworth Park (Captain’s Day) and the Royal Automobile Club, the latter being arranged at short notice in view of West Hill having been snowed off in December
Seven members had an away weekend in the Forest of Arden in part celebration of the Anniversary. The Society has a new website which will greatly enhance the work of the Secretary.

On a sad note, Keith Atkinson passed away after a long illness. Keith was devoted tothe Society having been a member for 35 years. Captain in 1980, he served asSecretary from 1987 till 2002. He will be sadly missed.

In 2011 Brian Currant took over the reins of captaincy. Average attendance over the year rose from 32 to 33
We returned to Gerrards X for a second year and also revisited Hindhead after a short absence. We also returned to Berkhamsted for the first time in many years where the Arun Ganatra Rose Bowl was contested for the first time.
Sadly, David Haber and Brian Wilkinson,two long serving and prominent members, were lost during the year.
John Foster became the first recipient of the Keith Atkinson Memorial Trophy by Patron, awarded for services rendered.

In 2012 John Foster became only the second person in the Society’s history to take on the dual role of Captain and Secretary.
We made a return for the first time in many years to Effingham and East Berks. The average attendance of 33 was maintained over the year.
Martin Copperwheat, a relatively new member to the society was not only the winner at two meetings but won three of the four annual trophies awarded for performances achieved over the season.
At the end of the year, Martin Peat resigned as President after 6 years having previously served as Vice President for 3 years and his contribution was acknowledged by the presentation to him by our Patron of an engraved silver salver accompanied by two whisky tumblers.
Kim Harris was voted into the President’s role with John Dixson-Smith succeeding him as Vice President. Howard Stokes,our long serving Treasurer,was awarded the Keith Atkinson Memorial trophy for services to the Society.

In 2013 Arun Ganatra took over the Captains duties and held a very successful day at a new venue Mid Sussex.The course/club is under the ownership of several Priory members who contributed not only to an excellent prize table but also to the smooth running of the event being attended by 51 participants.
Harleyford and Ashridge GCs were also added to the list of venues, both being perceived as excellent value for money. The usual Xmas bash was well attended 56 with Paul Keen raising well over £800 fro society funds.
Numbers now total 104, capped at 110, with an average attendance of 36 per meeting. Congratulations to Maurice Manning on winning all 3 Annual trophies and to Peter Parsons for being awarded the Keith Atkinson Memorial trophy for his hard work in respect of our very informative web site.
Well done to Arun who presented all members with a commemorative chip/ball marker.He was also instrumental in ensuring that all Past Captains over the last decade and in the future would be presented with a Society sweater plus logo of their year of office. Another successful year for the society.

In 2014 was a great pleasure for the Society to have such a youthful Captain as Tim Page. He brought not only enthusiasm and zest into the fixture list but stamped his own ideas on not only the present but also the future. These have been well documented in the years minutes. For the first time in the history of the Society the membership was capped at 110, which significantly includes 4 ladies!
9 meetings were played, Berkhamsted having been abandoned because of heavy overnight rains. Average attendance 42 with the average cost per meeting £73.A nostalgic return to Northwood and a record attendance 67,for the Xmas event at Westhill.the resultant auction and sweep raising some £1760.The introduction of “The Officer of the Day “ role proved most effective and will be continued in the future. Jim Fry received the Keith Atkinson trophy to recognise his efforts in promoting and selling Priory golfwear.

2015, under the stewardship of Graham White, saw a peak in membership to 117, albeit at the close 111. Two rearranged fixtures due to inclement weather at Berkhamsted and Camberley Heath amounted to twelve events in total. Highlights were undoubtedly the latter course together with Captains day at West Surrey, a return to New Zealand and the Christmas meeting at Westhill.
Paul Keen again conducted the auction sweep and raffle, raising a magnificent sum of £2335 - £1250 to the Captains nominated charity, Alzeimers/Dementia, and the balance going to the Centenary fund. He was awarded the Keith Atkinson Trophy in recognition of organising the auction and raffle in this and previous years.
We owe a a huge thankyou in respect of the latter to Carol Dixson-Smith for taking on the role of organiser for this huge forthcoming event.
It would be remiss not to mention the untimely demise of a past Captain 2013, Arun Ganatra, a very sad loss to all who knew him. Also the departure to the USA of a past President 2007-2012 and Captain 1990, Martin Peat, a very loyal servant of the Society for many years. Finally past Captain 2008, Stuart Briggs, has now retired to the South Coast.
Finally to quote your Captain - ”you are a great bunch of people and the number of members we now have show in what good health we stand as a Society.”

Eleven courses were visited under the very able stewardship of Bill Boniface in 2016. Bill stamped his own personality on the year by not only generously supporting the prize fund but dressing in a white tuxedo and bow tie for several events.
One of these was Captains day at Ashridge GC held on a balmy summer day and well supported by in excess of 40. Another was at the excellent Xmas meeting held for the first time at North Hants GC, club which the Society will continue to visit given the excellent reception and pricing.
Return visits to East and West Herts were not well attended and we will be leaving Worplesdon GC after many years on our rotation of course policy.
The number of attendees was slightly down  on the previous year, 32 to 37 per meeting albeit average cost to members being held at £74. The Christmas raffle and auction raised £2075 all of which has been placed to the Centenary Fund which now stands at £4150.

We visited 10 courses in 2017 in the capable hands of our Captain Maurice Manning.
His Captains' Day was held at "Royal Windlesham", his home club which was in excellent condition with many members just beating the onset of thunder and lightning.
The society made return visits to Moor Park )high course) and also the RAC Club, both of which made us most welcome. Mention should be made of the latter where Brain Mitchinson achieved a hole in one on the 17th.
Old favourites such as Tandridge and Ashridge completed the year with attendances exceeding 40 players.
In terms of statistics, membership increased by 5 making our complement now 115. The best attendance was at the Buckinghamshire in November where 54 were present.
Average score over the meetings was 27 points (28 last year). Average attendance per event increased from 32 to 39 at an average cost to members, some after subsidy, of £77 (£74 last year).
Of the current membership 27% (30%) did not attend at least one meeting and a similar percentage did not respond to emails.

2018 was a year under the Captaincy and stewardship of John Thompson. His contribution was immense, enthusiasm boundless which was proven by high attendances throughout the 10 meetings. His Captain's day was played at Woking after heavy rainfall. 54 participants enjoyed a great course with John showing his golfing prowess by winning the Douglas Wilson Bowl. Attendances overall averaged 37 per meeting despite an increase by at least 5% in overall costs and a hike in subs to £30 (had been £20 for previous 8 years). 72% of the membership attended at least 1 meeting. Succesful returns were made to West Byfleet and Beaconsfield. Hindhead proved difficult for most albeit in first class condition. Sadly Porters Park was a disappointment not because of quality but attendance. A comment should be made of the handicap system which was again revised to the benefit of most and has been well received.

Jon Paddon took over the mantel of Captain for 2019 and his drive and enthusiasm for the Priory showed through on the 10 fixtures played - Jon participated in all and collected some £2400 for his nominated charity.

Membership was constant at 107 albeit on a sad note saw the passing  away of a popular and well respected ex Captain, Maurice Manning.
390 members and guests turned out in the year equalling the record set a few years ago. Best attendances were at Burnham Beeches and Denham, the latter course being very wet after overnight rains with the Club insisting on the use of mats on the fairways. Woking proved popular for Jons Captains day, other highlights being a return to Burhill where both courses were played at different times of the year. We also returned to Westhill for the Christmas meeting.All in all a very enjoyable year despite mixed weather throughout.

2020 was a torrid year thanks to Covid-19. The 100 year Anniversary Celebrations were postponed twice, now taking place (hopefully) in 2021.

Jon Paddon did a magnificent job of steering us through his longer than expected term of office, handing over to George Michie at the September meeting held at Beaconsfield.

At this meeting John Foster finally became a free man after serving 14 years as secretary. His safe, calm leadership will be sorely missed. Such was the feeling for him; that over £800 was collected & used to  buy
gifts for him & wife Gill. These were presented to him by our President Kim Harris and this included a "smart" 'phone which you could get good odds of him never being able to master!
These were presented to him by our President Kim Harris.

This year we were only able to hold 2 meetings. Beaconsfield & Sandy Lodge, 29 & 30 members & guests respectively attending.  Membership held steady at 105.

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