PRESS BRIEFING NOTES
CHELSWORTH OPEN GARDENS – 50th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
Sunday, 25th June 2017 11am - 5pm
The Open Gardens story …
It was 1967, and the tiny Suffolk village of Chelsworth, (population less than 150) was the first of its kind – we believe the first village to open its gardens to the public. Admission was half-a-crown (12.5 pence) and a total of £150 was raised (equal to about £1,690 today) helped by plant sales and, of course, teas. Water for the teas served in the village Victory Hall was drawn from a standpipe and the washing-up was in bowls on trestle tables.
In a setting that is picture-book English with its centuries old pub and a humped back 18th century bridge, there is both timelessness and innovation. Over the last half-century the gardens have changed in subtle ways. There used to be more vegetable gardens - proud owners as proficient as Chelsea exhibitors – many in 1967 were still farmworkers. Today behind each gate, you will find a surprising variety of gardens – the formal, to the typical soft cottage scene. Knowledge abounds – talk to Sarah at the Summerhouse and you draw not only on her expertise but on that of her late father, Richard Britten, A member of the Alpine Garden Society, who regularly exhibited alpines at Vincent Square in London. A small yellow Fritillaria Pudica ‘Richard Britain’ is named after him.
Open Gardens has raised many thousands of pounds over the last fifty years for our parish church, All Saints Chelsworth. To celebrate our 50th we are also supporting the national gardening charity Thrive