History

The Anchor Society was formed in 1769 when it held a dinner at the Three Tuns, a tavern on the site of the present Corn Exchange in the centre of the medieval quarter of Bristol when 22 members were present. At this dinner the President, Gilbert Davies, took up a collection to benefit the poor and elderly in Bristol. Since then there is an unbroken record of Presidents’ annual appointments and personal collections.

The dinners of the pre-World War I era were very political affairs, attended by Cabinet ministers, and The Anchor Society tended towards the Whig or Liberal interest; in 1909 Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, was the guest of honour. The after dinner speeches were regarded as being significant public statements.

In 1917 the annual dinner was held in the President’s house when the strictures of the day allowed only past Presidents to attend.

In 1943 the dinner was held at lunchtime to avoid the difficulties of the blackout.

In 1969, the 200th anniversary of the first dinner, when the President of the Society was His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, the dinner, a memorable occasion, was held at Badminton House. The dinner is an opportunity to hear from a speaker prominent in his or her field. The President gives an account of the current activities of the Society. Over many years the Society has been graced with the presence of many leading personalities including Roy Jenkins Director of Public Prosecutions, Bishops and many other leaders of industry and commerce.

Today, one of the principal functions of the annual dinner is to announce the result of the President’s personal collection made in the first two weeks of November.

The Anchor Society is linked to sister charities, the Dolphin Society and the Grateful Society, all of which are involved in helping older people in the greater Bristol Region. Each year we celebrate the work of the three societies at an annual service in St Stephen’s Church in the centre of Bristol

In recent years through a generous bequest from Joyce Needham Cooper (pictured right)the Anchor society has been able to develop beyond the yearly collection to become an innovator and supporter of Innovative projects.  Examples of these projects are to be found at http://www.anchorsociety.co.uk/what-we-do/projects.  Key to the success in recent years has been a dedicated group of trustees and supporters who have committed time and energy to developing the Anchor Society to what it is today.

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Mrs Joyce Needham Cooper

The menu for the 1909 Dinner held in Colston Hall, including a toast to The Liberal Party and a toast to the President proposed by Winston Churchill
The menu for the 1909 Dinner held in Colston Hall, including a toast to The Liberal Party and a toast to the President proposed by Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill's response to a reminder of the 50th anniversary of the Dinner
Winston Churchill’s response to a reminder of the 50th anniversary of the Dinner


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