Blessed be the end

12 June 2015

SEVERAL members of the congregation of St Andrew's Minster Church, Plymouth Exeter diocese), could remember clearly the sheer joy and relief when peace finally came at the end of the Second World War. Shirley Denny, for example, could recall vividly some of the events when her family lived in Bermondsey, in south London, and were heavily bombed, and then had to face the terror of the V1 doodlebugs and V2 rockets.

So she and Jenny Truscott, with others, felt that they should celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty with a flower festival in St Andrew's, which had been bombed, burned out, and left as a shell, in 1941, until its reconstruction in 1957, which essentially restored it to its medieval self.

Central to the display was a cross in flowers on the chancel floor, "showing the cross as central to everything". Groups from the church arranged flowers and wartime memorabilia. The Royal Citadel, the local commando barracks, produced a magnificent flower display, and there was another dedicated to the Royal Navy, showing a sailor kneeling at a chapel altar.

"There was an amazing response," Mrs Denny says. "Lots of people came." The back of the nave was set up as for a street party (above), with "minster maids" serving refreshments. The festival ran for four days, enhanced on the actual anniversary of the war's end when the curator of Plymouth Museum, Rachel Smith, brought some of the artefacts from the pre-war church to add to the display.

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