Historic Ushaw House to host beautiful flower display celebrating County Durham history

More than 100 volunteer florists will transform a historic house into a beautiful floral walking tour celebrating the history of County Durham.

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens near Durham City has teamed up with local flower arrangers, florists, community groups, charities, churches and businesses to create 35 bespoke flower arrangements that tell inspirational stories about Durham.

Ady Davis, coordinator Ushaw Flower Fest 2022, said: “Ushaw Flower Fest is returning this year for its first run since the Covid-19 pandemic. Last time we marked the 450th anniversary of our foundation story and this year we wanted to pay a special tribute to County Durham, in partnership with people and organisations that share our passion and pride in the place we call home.”

Ushaw Flower Fest 2022 will be on show for visitors in Ushaw’s historic buildings from September 9 to 11.

L to R Tracey Russell, Ushaw Historic House, Flower Fest Volunteers and R, flower arranger Pam Oliver

Each of the arrangements is an individual celebration of Durham as a place and tells stories from the county’s past and present, from community campaigning and inspirational women to mining heritage and service in armed conflict.

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 World War I and II.

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Lindel Carre chair Durham Flower Club at Ushaw Historic House

Hidden Histories – by Pam Oliver

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.

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

Pam Oliver in St Cuthbert's Chapel Ushaw Historic House

“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.”

Other volunteer arrangers include:

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::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

The West Stanley pit explosion

::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

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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.

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For younger visitors, there will be a children’s garden trail with ecological artist Maggie Parker, where they will make decorative recycled flowerpots.

honouring the past

“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, Q Commercial Limited, A P Electrical Contractors and Wharton Landscapes are supporting Ushaw Flower Fest 2022 as sponsors.

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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.

The chapel looks beautiful