Birmingham Cathedral heads to Chelsea

By on 15/05/2015 in Culture, Deputy Leader, News
2015 Chelsea display

Tower and Doves – part of Birmingham City Council’s entry for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Birmingham Cathedral is heading to Chelsea next week, albeit in floral form, thanks to staff at Birmingham City Council’s Parks Department.

This year’s entry for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show – “300 Years at the Heart” – celebrates 300 years of Birmingham Cathedral with a spectacular five metre tall floral replica of the cathedral’s bell tower, windows designed by Catherine Ogle, the Dean of Birmingham Cathedral and an uphill water feature replica of the nave of the cathedral.

There’s also an area dedicated to St Philip, to whom the cathedral is dedicated, with giant loaves and fish.  As St Philip is the patron saint of Milliners the team have also taken the opportunity to join forces with Birmingham-based award-winning hat designer Monique Lee.  Monique has designed hats for the team and her students have designed the team’s uniform.

Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “Every year the staff in our Parks Department amaze me with their designs for Chelsea and this year’s celebration of Birmingham’s Cathedral is as good as it gets. The design incorporates huge structural elements, an impressive water feature and of course beautiful flowering plants grown in the city’s nurseries and hot house.

“The team will also be showcasing designs from local fashion students and an award winning hat designer.

“’300 Years at the Heart’  is completely sponsored by residents, local businesses and companies with an interest in Birmingham.  I would like to thank them for backing our display and allowing us to show the world the creativity and commitment of our staff.”

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 19 – 23 May, with the press day on 18 May.


For media information, pictures or to arrange an interview with Darren Share, Head of Parks, contact Debbie Harrison, Press and PR Officer at Birmingham City Council on 0121 303 4476.

Notes to Editors:

For pics see –

Follow us on Twitter @BhamCFSdisplay

Display features

Theme:  This year’s display celebrates 300 hundred years of Birmingham Cathedral.   From the ‘Church on the Hill’ St. Philips has become the heart of growing community in Birmingham.  St. Philips was opened in 1715 and has been part of Birmingham’s growth and success over the last 300 years.

Sponsor:  The display is completely sponsored by residents, local businesses and companies with an interest in Birmingham.  Individuals have purchased windows commemorating the tercentenary; these will be incorporated into the display.  Afterward they will be presented to individual sponsors at a ceremony at the cathedral when the display is recreated. The windows have been designed by Catherine Ogle, The Dean of Birmingham Cathedral.

Size:  10m x 10m in the Grand Pavilion GPF/1

Elements of the Display:  The display is split into three areas.

Area 1, Physical – the centre piece is a 5 metre tall floral replica of Birmingham’s Cathedral bell tower.  There will be a group of metal pigeons around the tower to depict the ground the cathedral was built upon, known locally as Pigeon Park.  The carpet bedded clock faces on the tower are set to 5:15 and 8:15 representing the years in the 24hr clock. (1715 to 2015).  The centre of the Tower will be the start of the water feature replicating the nave of the Cathedral.  The water will be running up hill before disappearing under an Olive Tree to represent St Philip’s time in Greece.   Nine planted pews will run in parallel to the water feature, one for each Bishop of Birmingham.  An interpretation of the Baskerville Bible, which is held at the Cathedral, will be at the end of the water feature.  Three replica gate posts will be located at each corner and will contain a globe with a vortex water display.

Area 2, St Philip – Birmingham Cathedral is dedicated to St Philip, one of the Apostles of Jesus.  Philip is linked to feeding the 5000 and is often depicted as an elderly saint holding a basket of loaves.  In the display we have recreated the five loaves and two fish to symbolise this event.  The giant wicker fish are based on the John Dory species with their distinctive dark spot.  According to legend this relates to the thumbprint of St. Peter.  There are other metal sea creatures.

Area 3, The Windows – the Cathedral Windows were designed by Edward Burne-Jones.  Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham in 1833 and was a leading Victorian artist.  His works include the East Window with William Morris at Holy Trinity in Sloane Square.  The windows were removed from Birmingham Cathedral during World War 2 by The Birmingham Civic Society, they returned to the Cathedral in 1948.  A representation of one of the angels will be situated under a pair of bells surrounded by predominately pinks and red plantings the main colours used in the windows.  The two bells, one made from wicker and the other carpet bedding represent the bells housed in the Cathedral since 1725.  The eight original bells have been increased to the 12 there is today.  The wicker bell will be above the angel which will be seen through a curtain of water.  Parts of the Cathedrals organ dates back to 1715 and this will be represented by a series of pipes which will project jets of water.

We have also explored the idea of St. Philip being the patron saint of Milliners and have joined up with award-winning hat designer, Birmingham-based Monique Lee.  Monique has designed hats for the stand team and a unique hat to represent the 300 years of Birmingham Cathedral.  Monique is a leader on fashion courses for both Coventry and Birmingham City Universities.  Working with her students they have designed a stand uniform.

Plants used:  All of the flowering plants have been produced and grown in the city’s nurseries and all of the structural plants in the hot house.  Flowering plants include Antirrhinum Arrow vars, Ageratum, Celosia Fresh vars, Celosia Kimono vars, Cosmos sonata vars, Tagetes Durango vars, Nicotiana cuba vars, Zinna Magellan vars, Dahlia Dalina vars, Impatiens New Guinea ColourPower vars, Osteospermum margarita vars, Begonia Amstel vars.

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