My Auntie Flo, who farmed in Wiltshire until the 1940s. With nephews and nieces living in London did she ever visit the Chelsea Flower Show?
With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show on this week I thought it would be interesting to find out a little about the history of the show.
The Royal Horticultural Society held the first Spring Show all the way back in 1862 in Kensington at the RHS garden. The show was moved to its current location of The Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1913 and continued even through the beginning of the Great War, but was cancelled in 1917 and 1918. It flourished during the 1920s and a special Empire Exhibition was held in 1937 to celebrate the coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth, featuring plants from around the Empire.
During the Second World War the Chelsea Flower Show was cancelled as the land was used as an anti-aircraft site, but was reinstated in 1947, becoming increasingly popular throughout the latter part of the 20th Century. You can read the full history in the RHS press release.
I find it fascinating to think of my ancestors possibly attending the Chelsea Flower Show, and what they would have made of it – particularly those who lived in the countryside – did they also make all that effort to grow beautiful flowers having spent the day tending their crops?
I visited the show for the first time last year and was inspired to start growing some of my own vegetables by the “Credit Crunch” gardens. I do wish that I had a bit more space but that’s definitely not a uniquely modern desire as my Grandmother has told me that her father got himself an allotment, not far from where I now live in Ealing, because he wanted more space to grow vegetables.
It is interesting to think that despite the commercialisation of the modern world we seem to be reverting to more basic and fulfilling hobbies and in some ways we are becoming more like our ancestors than those who came in-between.
Taken during my visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in 2009