Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens is to host a flower festival celebrating County Durham’s heritage, culture, people and places.

Ushaw Flower Fest, will see the 214-year-old Georgian house transform into a floral walking tour that tells rich stories from Durham’s past and present, including mining disasters, community campaigns and inspiring deeds.

More than 35 bespoke flower arrangements have been created by local volunteers to go on show in Ushaw’s historic buildings from September 9 to 11.

Ady Davis, festival coordinator, said: “Ushaw Flower Fest is set to be a magnificent event, by the people of Durham in celebration of the county they call home.

More than 100 local volunteers have come together to create a one-of-a-kind floral tour that will take visitors on a remarkable moving journey full of people, places, pride and passion.”

Ushaw Flower Fest’s volunteers are made up of flower arrangers, florists, community groups, charities, churches and businesses who wanted to celebrate Durham, in the year the county aspired to become UK City Culture 2025.

Ushaw’s iconic St Cuthbert’s Chapel will be decorated in honour of Durham miners who lost their lives in industrial accidents. A complete set of marching banners from pit communities, loaned from Beamish Museum and community banner groups, will also be on display.

Pam Oliver, 71, grew up in East Stanley around a mile from the West Stanley colliery. A retired florist, Pam has crafted ‘Hidden Histories,’ a deeply personal tribute to victims of the West Stanley pit disaster of 1909, in which 168 men died as a result of explosions.

Pam lost relatives in the disaster and her arrangement will sit on the main altar in St Cuthbert’s Chapel.

“My father’s elder brothers and cousin died. It was never mentioned when I was growing up. There is now little evidence of what happened there and physical signs of coal mining have all but vanished from the area. This history is hidden. The grief too was hidden in people’s hearts. It’s important we remember those who lost their lives. It is part of our history, it’s a part of us.”

Local charity Cheesy Waffles Project is introducing adults and young people with disabilities and additional needs to flower arranging for the first time as part of its Wider World program.

Angela Kelly, a 23-year British Army veteran, works with Finchale Group. A registered charity and training provider, Finchale Group supports service leavers and military veterans to manage resettlement into society and provides routes to employment and housing. Kelly, a former warrant officer second class, is leading a group of Durham military veterans to arrange flowers for Ushaw’s memorial chapels, which commemorate the service of former Ushaw priests and chaplains that died in the World Wars.

Other volunteer arrangers include:

  • Durham Flower Club marks its 60th anniversary – a celebration of flower arranging across six decades – including an exclusive display by Margaret Sykes; the club’s longest serving active member
  • Durham Federation of Women’s Institutes arrangement ‘Inspiring Women in Co. Durham’ chronicles the fun, friendship and campaigns of over 70 WI’s in the county
  • Durham Division Girl Guiding: Arrangement inspired by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, featuring decorative plant pots that symbolize the ‘Guiding Trefoil’ or three ‘leaves’ of the guiding promise

There will also be appearances and masterclass demonstrations by internationally acclaimed floral designers Jonathan Moseley and Andrew Grisewood, in which they will showcase their artistry and skills in flower arrangement.

September 9: Jonathan Moseley’s Overture to Autumn

September 10: Andrew Grisewood Autumn Palette

Tickets to see Jonathan Moseley and Andrew Grisewood cost from £15 to £25 and both masterclass demonstrations are from 7pm to 10pm.

For younger visitors, there will be a children’s garden trail with ecological artist Maggie Parker, including an opportunity to learn how to make decorative recycled flowerpots.

“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors to see Ushaw transformed through the colour, beauty and artistry of floral design, and to showcasing Durham’s passionate people and their stories; which make this county such a wonderful place to live, work and visit,” said Davis.

North East companies Dere Street Homes, Jonathan Elliot Plumbing and Heating, Purcell Architecture, Circe Flower Co, Sue O’Brien Floral Designer, Forget Me Not Flower Designers and Flower School, Houghall College, Elizabeth Kelly School of Floristry, Daisy Chain Florist, Marinel Glass and Wharton Landscapes are supporting Ushaw Flower Fest 2022 as sponsors.

Ushaw Flower Fest runs from September 9-11, 2022. Entry is included in the price of admission and is free for Ushaw annual pass holders.

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