Today (15th December 2021) Clifton House hosted the Benn Dinner, a Christmas Tradition which started 139 years ago and has continued through two world wars, a Spanish Flu Epidemic and throughout the Troubles. And this year it prevailed again, despite Covid-19.

In 1882 George Benn, the generous philanthropist, historian and benefactor of Belfast Charitable Society died, leaving the sum of £1,000 to the Charitable Society to set up the Benn Charity. This sum of money was to be used principally to provide a dinner or other entertainment for the residents of the Old Peoples Home at Christmas. George was also very close with his brother Edward who predeceased him, and he requested that any interest from the fund was used to maintain his brother’s burial place in Clifton Street Cemetery.

George’s final request was that any additional surplus income after the two original requests “shall be applied in providing for the use of aged inmates of the said Poor House a few newspapers such as Illustrated London Times, The Graphic or such illustrated papers to amuse them”.

Since then the Belfast Charitable Society have continued to support a Christmas lunch for the residents of Clifton House, in his name. As is tradition, the Lord Mayor joined Belfast Charitable Society President, Sir Ronnie Weatherup, and the charity’s Board to mark the occasion. Due to Covid, the meet and greet with the residents occurred at the windows of the Residential Home. The Belfast Junior Chamber supported the event with the delivery of Christmas gifts for the Residents and Santa also made an appearance!