Clifton House: The Benn Christmas Dinner
Portrait of George Benn.

This year, for the 139th time, Clifton House will play host to the Benn Dinner, a Christmas tradition that was started with a charitable legacy from George Benn way back in 1882!

George Benn (1801-1882) and his brother Edward (1798-1874) were both active members of the Belfast Charitable Society. In 1870, Edward donated money anonymously to extend the Poor House so that it could cope with growing demands for support.[1] George was a generous philanthropist, historian and benefactor of Belfast Charitable Society. In his Will he left the sum of £1,000 to enable the residents of Clifton House, the original Poor House and Infirmary, to gather together and have a Christmas dinner. Any remaining income was to be used to maintain his brother Edward’s burial place at Clifton Street Cemetery and to provide illustrated newspapers, such as The Graphic, to amuse the elderly residents. Since 1882, Belfast Charitable Society has continued to support a Christmas lunch for the residents of Clifton House, in his name.

Due to ongoing restrictions, this year the donation will not only support a special Christmas dinner, but also a number of activities that residents are able to enjoy together. The Lord Mayor of Belfast has always been an integral part of this annual event for over 100 years, and this year the tradition will continue with the attendance of Councillor Kate Nicholl.


[1] 136th Benn Christmas Dinner: the brothers behind the name’ (

Members Involved

YEAR: 1774

Location: Clifton Street