Hundreds of florists prepare for jubilee flower festival at Salisbury Cathedral

·3-min read
Linda Bainbridge (left) and Miyuki Griffin putting the finishing touches to The Crown, Orb and Sceptre exhibit as part of A Festival of Flowers’ at Salisbury Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Linda Bainbridge (left) and Miyuki Griffin putting the finishing touches to The Crown, Orb and Sceptre exhibit as part of A Festival of Flowers’ at Salisbury Cathedral (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Salisbury Cathedral is a hive of activity as hundreds of florists put the final touches to their display ahead of the opening of a Festival of Flowers on Tuesday.

The event was initially intended to take place in 2020 to celebrate 800 years since the laying of the building’s foundation stone, but was delayed due to the pandemic.

It is now commemorating both the cathedral’s milestone anniversary, and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Dean of Salisbury Cathedral Nick Papadopulos looks at the exhibits (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
The Dean of Salisbury Cathedral Nick Papadopulos looks at the exhibits (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Around 450 florists were given the brief “celebration” to create 127 exhibits around the Cathedral’s nave and cloisters, using 30,000 blooms.

Dean of Salisbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Nicholas Papodopulos, told the PA news agency that as well as celebrating the jubilee, the festival was also about the community of Salisbury and the fight against Covid-19.

“This time last year, this building was a mass vaccination centre – more than 35000 jabs were administered within these walls,” he said.

“Throughout the pandemic there has been worship and prayer here according to whatever the restrictions of the time have allowed.”

He continued: “The steady heartbeat or prayer has continued throughout these two years and whenever we have been able to gather people, we have done that – first to receive their vaccinations and now to come together to celebrate with this extraordinary display of creative ingenuity.”

Finishing touches are made to displays (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
Finishing touches are made to displays (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Among the exhibits is a replica of the Queen’s famous ermine trimmed robes of state, which are made from painstakingly stitched together pampas grass, seeds and pressed leaves sprayed gold.

Designers Miyuki Griffin and Linda Bainbridge estimated it took a team of florists more than 300 hours to put together.

At the opposite end of the nave is a replica of the royal nursery and the Queen’s cradle.

Elsewhere, hundreds of decorated paper hearts hanging from the cathedral’s vaulted ceiling are part of a community project families, day centres, care homes and schools.

Michael Bowyer, creative director for flowers at Salisbury Cathedral leading a team of 45 arrangers, said: “This is a flower festival on a grand scale.”

Explaining the festival’s “celebration” theme, he said: “You name it, we’re celebrating it – romance, weddings, British culture, the popularity of house plants, the Queen’s platinum jubilee, and the actually (cathedral) building itself.”

(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

One of the three main designers of the festival, Angela Turner, said there had been a focus on reducing the festival’s environmental impact.

They have eliminated the use of traditional florist foam, and replaced it with a natural alternative, and collected thousands of glass jars to use as containers to cut down on waste.

Designer Pam Lewis said the team had worked a lot of late nights and early mornings to get the festival ready on time.

“It has been really hard work and I know we’re tired, but we really have enjoyed it and everybody that has been involved has been enjoying it as well,” she said.

The cathedral expects to welcome around 10,000 visitors between Tuesday and the festival’s closing date on May 15.

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