A brilliant festival of flowers

Over 150 visitors were welcomed into the tiny medieval Church of St Matthew at the beginning of June for a special flower festival. Part of a series of events opening its doors to the community, it was specially planned to tell the story of the church down the ages.

Gary Ruffell, one of the organisers, said: ‘We have been really pleased with the public response to this flower festival at St Matthew’s. It was well supported by the local community but people also came from surrounding towns and villages – over 60% visiting the church for the first time.’

An altar display recalled the original shepherds’ church and the flowers and herbs that would have been growing in the area at that time. In the nave, the life of St Matthew’s as a parish church through the centuries was illustrated by red, white, purple and green displays – colours that link with seasons in the church calendar. And at the west end, alongside the new refreshment facilities, the displays focused on the future: exotic flowers mingled with native species in celebration of the international and local organisations supported by the parish’s Beyond Ourselves mission programme.

The flower festival was a free event, and response both to the flowers and to the building improvements was overwhelmingly positive. One visitor commented on ‘the wow as you come in, both visual and smell – I think the arrangements are stunning’, and another described St Matthew’s as ‘a cool and peaceful oasis on a hot day’.