Ploughing match links the past with the present

Robert Jameson's steam winched plough
Robert Jameson's steam winched plough

The very popular annual West Grinstead Ploughing Match takes place on Saturday. Columnist and Toovey’s auction house director Rupert Toovey meets one the leading lights behind the event.

I am in the company of Rowan Allan. We meet as Rowan prepares for the 2017 West Grinstead Annual Plough Match and agricultural show, which takes place this coming Saturday September 16 at Weston’s Farm, Itchingfield, RH13 0BD.

Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt

Rowan Allan of H.J. Burt

Rowan Allan is a partner at the land agents H.J. Burt at Steyning and Henfield and has been the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society for 19 years.

As a Chartered Surveyor and a Fellow of the CAAV he has strong professional and personal links with the rural and agricultural community in Sussex.

He explains that H.J. Burt has been associated with the society and show since 1887 and says: “The show seeks to honour and learn from the past whilst looking confidently to the future. It’s a shop window to enjoy and learn about the countryside whether that’s farming or country pastimes.

“We keep an eye to the past so that an older generation can show off their skills and trades that otherwise would be lost.”

The show seeks to honour and learn from the past whilst looking confidently to the future

I comment that it can sometimes seem that life in the countryside is increasingly misunderstood by those living in towns.

Rowan responds: “We put on lots of activities like the young lamb handling classes at the show. They are an opportunity to connect those of us living in towns with the rural way of life.”

The society seeks to educate and make apparent how important the vital work of the farming and rural community is to our nation. Horsham’s MP Jeremy Quin is president of the society this year. It is a hopeful thing that Mr Quin clearly understands that Horsham is at the heart of a rural community.

This year’s show is being hosted by David Exwood at Weston’s Farm. David started with just a 100 or so acres and now farms more than 1,500 acres.

His success is down to his skill, resolve, hard work and the remarkable relationship he has built with Christ’s Hospital as a tenant farmer over many years.

It is exciting to witness patronage like this of rural life and farming. David’s sons, Tom and Fred, have grown up on the farm. Tom is now working in the farming world and Rowan acknowledges the importance of looking beyond the current generation to the future.

It is fitting that David Exwood and his team have been voted the overall winner of the ‘2017 Best Farmed Farm over 500 Acres’ by the society in this strongly contested category. It is one of many awards made by the society every year in support of farmers.

The society works tirelessly throughout the year to bring together, encourage and support this generous rural community and they deserve our thanks.

This weekend the ploughing match will be supported by displays, competitions, merry-go-rounds, traction engines, livestock shows and handling sessions – so much to delight the family. I hope to see you there!

The 2017 West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society Annual Ploughing Match and Country Show is going to be a fantastic family day whether you are from town or country.

Entry is just £6 per person with no charge for children under 14.

For more information contact Rowan Allan at H.J. Burt through or go to

Rupert Toovey is a senior director of Toovey’s, fine art auction house on the A24 at Washington - - and a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester.