It’s Christmas in London and for such a festive occasion, one pub immediately springs to mind – The Churchill Arms.
The name is certainly not a mystery and doesn’t really have anything to do with the Christmas theme. It stems from, of course, wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill – or rather, his grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, John and Frances Anne Spencer-Churchill, who were patrons here and which, in honour of Churchill and them, saw the pub so-named after World War II.
Churchill remains a theme in the interior where a good deal of related memorabilia can be found – including wartime posters, pictures of the man himself and a (fake) plaque commemorating Churchill’s use of the pub for his wartime broadcasts (there’s even a celebratory night held each year around Churchill’s birthday).
The pub, which is located at 119 Kensington Church Street, dates from 1750.
But in recent times, it’s become famous for its stunning Christmas light displays which this year reportedly feature some 80 Christmas trees and 22,000 lights. The pub is also known for its extraordinarily profuse flower displays which cost thousands of pounds each year and which have even won at none other than the Chelsea Flower Show.
It also holds the claim to fame of being the first London pub to serve Thai food when it did so as far back as 1988.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show opens today and once again features a series of cutting edge ‘show gardens’ boasting the best of international garden design as well as a series of smaller ‘artisan gardens’ offering thought-provoking designs that tell a story, ‘space to grow’ gardens which pack a lot into a small space and dazzling displays in the Great Pavilion. This year’s offerings also include a special ‘RHS Back to Nature Garden’ designed by the Duchess of Cambridge with the help of Andrée Davies and Adam White of Davies White Landscape Architects, and a D-Day 75 Garden which, positioned in front of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, shows soldiers landing on a beach overlooked by a stone statue of veteran Bill Pendell. The show runs until Saturday with public entry from Thursday. For more, see rhs.org.uk/shows. PICTURES: Above – Florella’s Future, Discovery Zone, in the Great Pavilion; Below – Queen Elizabeth II smiles as views flower displays in the Great Pavilion (RHS/Luke MacGregor); The National Chrysanthemum Society’s exhibit, which is based on popular children’s television programmes of the 60’s and 70’s during prebuild (RHS/ Luke MacGregor); Paddleboarder Jo Mosely poses in ‘The Welcome to Yorkshire’ show garden (RHS/Suzanne Plunkett); The Queen and Prince William are given a tour by the Duchess of Cambridge of her ‘RHS Back to Nature Garden’ (RHS/Luke MacGregor); and, Normandy veterans pause in the ‘D-Day Revisited Garden’ designed by John Everiss Design (RHS/Suzanne Plunkett).
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show was held in London last week at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and was once again a celebration of horticultural creativity and beauty. Here’s just a sample of what was on show…
Above, animal sculptures are displayed on the Easigrass exhibit while, below, a visitor listens to an audio recording whilst viewing a floral installation on the Interflora exhibit.
ALL PICTURES: RHS/Luke MacGregor.
Above, a visitor views “Neoteric” a floral installation by Robert Hornsby.
Above, lilies are displayed on the Harts Nursery exhibit.
Above, stilt walker “Mrs Flora” poses on the Big Hedge Co. garden.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened in London’s west this week so we thought we’d take a look at some of the treasures on show. The show, which is in its 102nd year, has been held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1913 (except during the two World Wars) and while its claim to be Britain’s largest flower show has been lost to the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, it remains the nation’s most prestigious. The five day show runs until Saturday. From the top – Chelsea pensioners look at ‘Peter Beales Roses’ in the Great Pavilion; the Inter-flora display in the Great Pavilion; a model poses in front of the Thailand, Land of Buddhism display; and, award-winning garden sculptor David Harber hosts the Mad Hatter’s tea party. For more on the show, visit www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show. PICTURES: RHS/Hannah McKay and RHS.
Queen Mary (wife of King George V) with group at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 1913. The show, which was first held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, in 1913, is celebrating its centenary this year. The 244 exhibitors at the inaugural event have grown to more than 500 today with 161,000 visitors now attending the show each year. Other pictures released to mark the centenary include (see below) gardeners carrying pots at the show in 1931; visitors looking at a display of cacti at the 1964 show; and, an aerial view of the show in the 1990s. The show runs from today until 25th May. For more on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, see www.rhs.org.uk/Shows—events/RHS-Chelsea-Flower-Show/2013. PICTURES: RHS Lindley Library.
The Queen visits the Chelsea Flower Show. PICTURE: Courtesy Royal Horticultural Society.
More correctly known as the Royal Horticultural Society Great Spring Show, the history of the Chelsea Flower Show traces its origins back to the 1820s when the society, then known as the The Horticultural Society in London, held a series of “floral fetes” at the Duke of Devonshire’s estate in Chiswick.
The fortunes of the society were on the wane when, thanks in part to its then president, Prince Albert, it was reborn with a new charter and name – the Royal Horticultural Society – and a new garden in Kensington.
The first Great Spring Show was held there in 1862 and continued to be so for the next 26 years until, in 1888, the site of the show was moved to Temple Gardens near Embankment in central London.
It was subsequently held there until 1912. During this year, the show was cancelled and the Royal International Horticultural Exhibition held instead in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. So popular did this prove that the Great Spring Show was subsequently moved there. It’s been held almost every since with cancellations during World Wars I and II.
Today, the show – claimed to be “the world’s most famous gardening event” – attracts 157,000 visitors from around the world who view the exhibits of 600 companies including nurseries, florists and floral arranges. This year’s show, which has sold out, features 17 show gardens, 15 smaller gardens and 100 of nurseries and growers. It runs from today until Saturday.