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Society Dinners

 

On Friday 13th December 1974, the Dracula Society met at the Royal Hotel at Purfleet in Essex for the very first Society dinner.

 

This dinner was held at a hotel which would most likely have been known to and visited by Bram Stoker if he was in the area, as in his time it was a well known haunt of well-to-do visitors from London. It was also known then for its whitebait suppers!

 

Stoker almost certainly did at least know the area, as in Dracula he sited in the Purfleet area Carfax (the house purchased by Count Dracula through Jonathan Harker when in Transylvania), and also Dr. Seward's nearby asylum.

 

Present at this first dinner was the then Society member actor Murray Brown, who had been declared as the very first Society award winner, for "Most Promising Actor of the Year".

This was for his performance as Jonathan Harker in the 1974 film production of Dracula, directed by Dan Curtis and starring Jack Palance in the title role.

Murray wasn't actually presented with his framed award citation on the night as it wasn't yet ready, and he was instead presented with a bottle of champagne!

 

He was finally presented with the actual award in the following June, and it was presented to him by his fellow actor, and also then fellow Society member, Vincent Price!

 

 

It was not until the following year in 1975 that it was decided that a dinner should become an annual event, and that we should hold a Society Annual Dinner to honour the birthday of Bram Stoker, which falls on November 8th.

These dinners were to be called Bram Stoker Birthday Dinners, and they have been held in one form or another every year since, on the closest Saturday to Stoker's birth date.

 

The Dinner is the Dracula Society's "big night of the year".

It's the most attended regular Society event, and for many years the Annual Dinners were held in the formal dining suites of central London hotels. When this eventually became prohibitively expensive, we moved for a couple of years to just having an informal wine bar event to mark Stoker's birthday, but thankfully we soon found that we were able to have seated meals once again, in privately hired restaurants, clubs or bars.

 

One of the main functions of the Dinner is to present our Society awards, and we always endeavour to present the awards to our winners in person actually at the event.

This is sometimes not possible of course, especially if the award winners are not United Kingdom residents, and in that case we try to find someone appropriate to accept the awards on their behalf.

 

We also aspire to have at least one other Society guest at our Dinners, someone who is prominent in the Gothic genre field, either as a performer, producer, director, or writer.

 

Here below for interest is a list of the Society Dinners to date, with the guests present, either as award winners or as Society guests, and the venue at which the Dinner was held.

 

Also here is a selection of the ornate menu cards designed for the very early Dinners by Society co-founder Bruce Wightman.

 

The numbering of the "Bram Stoker Birthday Dinners" does not include the 1974 dinner, which was not advertised as such.

The names in red indicate Society award winners.

 

 

      1974

      Murray Brown

      The Royal Hotel Purfleet

 

1    1975

      Cristian Constantinescu (The Romanian UK cultural attaché)

      Penelope Horner (Mina in the 1974 film Dracula)

      Verrey's Restaurant                                                           Menu

      (This Dinner featured a live Victorian Music Hall cabaret!)

 

2    1976

      Professor Eric Tappe (Romanian scholar and writer)

      Denholm Elliott

      The Knights of St. Columba Club                                       Menu

 

3    1977

       Arnold Ridley

       Patrick Troughton

       The Inns of Court                                                              Menu

 

4    1978

       Ivan Butler

       Vladek Sheybal

       The Charing Cross Hotel

 

5    1979

       Harry Ludlam

       Valerie Leon

       The Charing Cross Hotel

 

6    1980

       Michael Carreras

       Val Guest

       Yolande Donlan

       The Charing Cross Hotel

 

7    1981

       Gerald Savory

       Bosco Hogan

       The Tara Hotel

 

8    1982

       Peter Haining

       Richard Butler

       The Tara Hotel

 

9    1983

       Sir Iain Moncrieffe

       Deirdra Morris (received the HDA for Ian Richardson)

       The Tara Hotel

       (This was the Society's 10th Anniversary celebration)

 

10  1984

      Valentine Dyall

      The Tara Hotel

 

11  1985

      Basil Copper

      The Tara Hotel

 

12  1986

      Melissa Stribling

      The Café Royal

 

13  1987

      Peter Underwood

      The Café Royal                                                                  Menu

 

14  1988

      Clive Leatherdale

      St. Ermin’s Hotel

 

15  1989

       Ivan Butler

      Terry Pratchett

      St. Ermin’s Hotel                                                                Menu

 

16  1990

       Ingrid Pitt

      St. Ermin’s Hotel                                                                Menu

 

17  1991

      Christopher Frayling

      St. Ermin’s Hotel

 

18  1992

      Bram Stoker Birthday Party

      Cort’s Wine Bar

 

19  1993

      Bram Stoker Birthday Party

      The Cittie of Yorke public house

 

20  1994

      Caroline Munro

      Stephen Laws

      The GHQ Club

 

21  1995

      The GHQ Club

      (There were no awards to be presented that year)

 

22  1996

      Gwyneth Jones (Ann Halam)

      The GHQ Club

 

23  1997

      Christopher Frayling

      The GHQ Club

      (This was the Society's Dracula centenary celebration)

 

24  1998

      Alan Frank

      Freda Warrington

      Alchemy (The GHQ Club re-branded)

 

25  1999

      Edward de Souza

      Stephen Gallagher

      Joe Ahearne

      Clive E. Ward

      Alchemy

 

26  2000

      Janina Faye

      Tudor Gates

      Alchemy

 

27  2001

      Jonathan Rigby

      Stargazer Restaurant

 

28  2002

      John Forbes Robertson

      Lou Hirsch

      Stargazer Restaurant

 

29  2003

      Kim Newman

      The Society 30th Anniversary Convention Dinner

      The Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel at Rochester in Kent

      (The only Stoker Birthday Dinner held outside London)

 

30  2004

      Chris Wooding

      Brahms Restaurant

 

31  2005

      Bernard Davies (our retired co-founder was our Guest of Honour)

      Alan Jones (received the HDA for Paco Plaza)

      The Ship Tavern

 

32  2006

      Lesley Sharp

      Sarah Singleton

      The Lounge Bar

 

33  2007

      Carol Marsh

      Janina Faye

      John L. Probert

      Alan Jones (received the HDA for Guillermo del Toro)

      The Lounge Bar

 

34  2008

      F. G. Cottam

      The George in the Strand public house

 

35  2009

      Damien Thomas

      Mark Gatiss

      Brian J. Showers

      The Judge's Court, Brown’s Restaurant

 

36  2010

      Christopher Frayling

      Chris Priestley

      Toby Whithouse (received the HDA for Aidan Turner)

      The Hotel Russell

 

37  2011

      Caroline Munro

      Jeremy Dyson

      Michelle Paver

      The Hotel Russell

 

38  2012

      Anthony Higgins (received the HDA for Benedict Cumberbatch)

      Reggie Oliver

      The Hotel Russell

 

39  2013

      Philip Saville

      Pauline Moran (received the HDA for Jane Goldman)

      The Hotel Russell

 

40  2014

      Jeremy Clyde

      Mark Gatiss

      Anna Taborska

      The Hotel Russell

 

41  2015

      Martine Beswick

      Reece Shearsmith

      Steve Pemberton

      Katherine Haynes

      The Civil Service Club

 

42  2016

      Michael Chislett

      The Civil Service Club

 

43  2017

      Renee Glynne

      Ashley Pharoah

      Ramsey Campbell

      The Civil Service Club

 

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