PRESS BRIEFING NOTES
CHELSWORTH OPEN GARDENS – 2023
Sunday, 25th June 2023 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.