BLOOMING LOVELY: Mary Steventon preparing a flower arrangement at Staindrop's St Mary the Virgin Church
BLOOMING LOVELY: Mary Steventon preparing a flower arrangement at Staindrop's St Mary the Virgin Church

A POPULAR flower festival has been moved forward by a year to accommodate a church’s 1,250th anniversary.

St Mary the Virgin, in Staindrop, usually holds its impressive display of floral arrangements every four years.

However, organisers decided to stage the event this year to accommodate the upcoming landmark. The first church buildings were erected on the site in AD771.

More than 25 displays of varying sizes will populate the church from Saturday, August 25, through to Monday, August 27.

A preview party is planned for Friday, August 24.

Those involved have been challenged to arrange their displays in the grade-I listed church around the theme “My Favourite Poem”.

Event organiser Mary Steventon said: “One of the arrangements is The Glory of the Garden, by Rudyard Kipling, and the ladies who are researching the village’s First World War heroes are doing In Flanders Fields. It is appropriate this year especially.”

However, not all the displays are serious, such as one that takes the theme of Rumble in the Jungle. The reception class from Staindrop Primary School has helped out with that display and have made little animals to hide among the foliage.

Sam Turner

Other poems selected include The Lady of Shalott, The Owl and the Pussy Cat and My Love is Like a Red Red Rose.

Some 26 people are involved in creating the displays.

Mrs Steventon, who is a member of Shildon Flower Club, said: “We do have one woman who is nearly 90 who is doing one and we also have some younger ones who have just started.”

The display runs from 10am to 5pm on Saturday with refreshments available at the Scarth Hall from 11am to 4pm.

On Sunday, doors are open from 1pm to 5pm with refreshments from 1pm to 4pm and on Monday the church is open between 10am and 4pm with refreshments at the hall from 11am to 3pm.

Entry costs £4.

Tickets for the preview night, which runs from 7pm to 9pm are £8 and include refreshments. Castle Players members will be reading out the various poems on the night. Mrs Steventon thanked Sally Bennett, of Flowers by Natrass, in Darlington, for her involvement in the festival.