Look Good

How flowers are being used to tell stories of inspirational women and Durham’s history

From mining disasters to inspirational women and work with war veterans, we caught up with the women involved in Ushaw Flower Fest 2022 to find out more.

Written by High Life North
Published 07.09.2022

Whether you’re wanting to brighten up someone’s day, pass on your congratulations or remember a late loved one, flowers see us through every milestone in our lives.

And this is why Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens is hosting a flower festival celebrating County Durham’s heritage, culture, people and places from 9th – 11th September. The festival is set to display more than 35 bespoke flower arrangements that have been created by local volunteers including flower arrangers, florists, community groups, charities, churches and businesses.

Ushaw Flower Fest will see the 214-year-old Georgian house transform into a floral walking tour that tells rich stories from Durham’s past and present, including mining disasters, community campaigns and the deeds of inspiring women.


Retired florist Pam, who grew up in East Stanley around a mile from the West Stanley Colliery, has crafted a deeply personal tribute to victims of the West Stanley pit disaster of 1909, in which 168 men died as a result of explosions which is named Hidden Histories.

Pam sadly lost relatives in the disaster and her arrangement will sit on the main altar in St Cuthbert’s Chapel to commemorate those lives lost.

‘My father’s elder brothers and cousin died. It was never mentioned when I was growing up,’ says Pam. ‘There is now little evidence of what happened there and physical signs of coal mining have all but vanished from the area. This history is hidden. The grief too was hidden in people’s hearts. It’s important we remember those who lost their lives. It is part of our history, it’s a part of us.’

Ushaw’s iconic St Cuthbert’s Chapel will be decorated in honour of Durham miners who lost their lives in industrial accidents. A complete set of marching banners from pit communities, loaned from Beamish Museum and community banner groups, will also be on display.


British Army veteran Angela works with Finchale Group, a registered charity and training provider that supports service leavers and military veterans to get back into society and provides routes to employment and housing.

Angela is a former warrant officer second class and is leading a group of Durham military veterans to arrange flowers for Ushaw’s memorial chapels, which commemorate the service of former Ushaw priests and chaplains that died in World War I and II.


Durham Flower Club marks its 60th anniversary

A celebration of flower arranging across six decades – including an exclusive display by Margaret Sykes; the club’s longest-serving active member.

Inspiring Women in County Durham

Durham Federation of Women’s Institute’s arrangement chronicles the fun, friendship and campaigns of over 70 WI’s in the county.


Durham Division Girl Guiding

An arrangement inspired by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, featuring decorative plant pots that symbolize the ‘Guiding Trefoil’ or three ‘leaves’ of the guiding promise.

Flower Arranging Masterclasses 

Friday 9th September: Jonathan Moseley’s Overture to Autumn

Saturday 10th September: Andrew Grisewood Autumn Palette

Internationally acclaimed floral designers Jonathan Moseley and Andrew Grisewood will be hosting masterclasses in which they will showcase their artistry and skills in flower arrangement.


Tickets to see Jonathan Moseley and Andrew Grisewood cost from £15 – £25 and both masterclass demonstrations are from 7pm to 10pm.

Children’s Garden Trail

For younger visitors, there will be a children’s garden trail with ecological artist Maggie Parker, including an opportunity to learn how to make decorative recycled flowerpots.


Introduction to Flower Arranging

Local charity Cheesy Waffles Project is introducing adults and young people with disabilities and additional needs to flower arranging for the first time as part of its Wider World program.

The North East companies will be sponsoring Ushaw Flower Fest: Dere Street Homes, Jonathan Elliot Plumbing and Heating, Purcell Architecture, Circe Flower Co, Sue O’Brien Floral Designer, Forget Me Not Flower Designers and Flower School, Houghall College, Elizabeth Kelly School of Floristry, Daisy Chain Florist, Marinel Glass and Wharton Landscapes.


Entry to the festival is included in the price of admission and is free for Ushaw annual pass holders.

For more information about Ushaw Flower Fest and to book your tickets, follow this link.

Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens, Woodland Road, Durham DH7 9RH

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