The Chelsea Flower Show In Historic Newspapers – The British Newspaper Archive Blog


The Chelsea Flower Show In Historic Newspapers

The Chelsea Flower Show is a beloved national institution. Every year the great and good – and green-fingered! – descend upon West London to ogle each others’ offerings and occasionally throw shade on the sub-standard spots.

It’s an enduring tradition, and as our newspaper collection demonstrates, one which has fascinated observers all over the country for many decades…

Chelsea Flower Shocks

As is sometimes the case still today, things haven’t always run smoothly at Chelsea. In 1913 one punter’s dreams were dashed to petal-strewn pieces by a rogue piece of canvas, a tragedy significant enough to earn inches in the Lincolnshire Echo on 22 May 1913:


Even a century ago, the Chelsea Flower Show attracted the aristocrats like bees to sweet pollen. Queen Alexandra’s visit to the show was reported by the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Adviser in 1913.

Orchids were evidently the flower of the moment, as the Royals were apparently  very taken with them (thankfully their visit fell a day before the canvas disaster):


Innovation has always been celebrated at Chelsea, though hopefully modern bursts of ingenuity are more PETA-friendly:

Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Friday 23 May 1913


Above all, The Chelsea Flower Show is a place where people with a deep love of plants and growing come together to celebrate their passion.

The care involved when presenting the fruits of their labour has always impressed, as this final article from the Aberdeen Journal (20 May 1913) testifies:

Were your ancestors gardeners, or perhaps among the crowds at one of the Chelsea shows decades ago? Please share your family’s stories in the comments below – but remember to enjoy the great outdoors this week as well!



1 comments On The Chelsea Flower Show In Historic Newspapers

  • I was chuffed to unearth from The British Newspaper Archive many snippets about my relatives, the Harrisons – gardeners, nurserymen and seed merchants of Leicester – including these two seed catalogue adverts, dating from 1877 and 1899.

    I’m not sure whether the Harrisons exhibited at Chelsea, though they would undoubtedly have visited to take stock of changing tastes in garden design. For those with an interest in the earlier history of Harrison’s nursery, take a look at my article:

    Graham Barker

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