Chichester Cathedral bursts into bloom

01 June 2018

Jim Holden

Jane Brickell puts the finishing touches to a display at Chichester Cathedral’s three-day Festival of Flowers, which closed on Sunday

Jane Brickell puts the finishing touches to a display at Chichester Cathedral’s three-day Festival of Flowers, which closed on Sunday

THE interior of Chichester Cathedral was transformed into a “paradise of rich colour” for its three-day biennial Festival of Flowers, which closed on Sunday.

The festival was opened on Thursday by its patron, the British designer and businesswoman Emma Bridgewater, and is centred on the theme “This Earthly Paradise”.

More than 240 flower arrangers worked for several days to create the 80 arrangements to adorn the nave, aisles, arches, and tombs of the 900-year-old cathedral. At least 15,000 visitors were expected to drop in to view the 50,000 flowers making the spectacular displays.

Ms Bridgewater said that the theme could not be more fitting. “There is something completely wonderful for everybody — the spectacle of it is so moving, so delicious — it is a huge treat to see the cathedral wearing a different set of clothes, looking marvellously transformed. You absolutely have to come and see this phenomenal spectacle.”

Visitors could spot signs of plant-hunting, botany, horticulture, and conservation, as well as an array of plants from around the world, its organisers said. The display also included a world first: a tea rose named “Nostalgia” which has been specially designed and grown for the event by Jonathan and Elizabeth Sawday of the nursery Apuldram Roses, in West Sussex.

On the theme of preservation, the flower arrangers designed a tribute to Kew Gardens and its conservation project Millennium Seed Bank, based at the wild botanic garden in Wakehurst. The arrangers were given access to the repository at Kew, where seeds from each of native plant species in the UK are stored.

The money raised from the tickets will contribute to the restoration of the cathedral.

A spokeswoman for the cathedral, Ruth Poyner, said: “This extraordinary event came together on a wave of goodwill and passion. We can’t say thank you enough to the hundreds of volunteers who helped to stage the Festival and the thousands of visitors who supported us by purchasing a ticket.

“The money raised will go towards the urgent repair and recovering of the Cathedral’s unique medieval roof — a substantial project estimated at £5.8 million — so we are extremely grateful to all those involved.”

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