Sandringham Flower Show is one of Norfolk’s most prestigious horticultural events of the year.
Held annually on the last Wednesday in July, it’s an occasion not to be missed. Approximately 15,000 visitors attend this event every year, enjoying the array of displays, trade stands, the main arena events and of course catching a glimpse of HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The attendance of royalty at the Sandringham Flower Show is definitely one of the main draws for this event, but the origins of the show go right back to 1881.
Queen Victoria bought Sandringham House for her son, the Prince of Wales, back in 1862, and 20 years later, as Edward VII, he was still improving the estate. He had the idea of introducing a flower show for all the tenants on the estate as a way of encouraging them to keep their gardens tidy and to take pride in their properties. Nowadays, most of the competitions are open to everyone, but the whole ethos of the show is still built around this tradition of local pride.
All profits from the show are donated to local charities.
Every year HRH The Prince of Wales attends, along with the Duchess of Cornwall. They set off from the house at about 11.00am, and sweep slowly down the drive in an open top carriage (if the weather allows) and into the parkland of the estate towards the main horticultural tents. The best view for this is to enter the garden through the large wrought iron gates at the side of the parkland.
The Flower Show isn't seen as an official royal event, but that aside, they spend some time meeting members of the public, looking at the exhibits and generally taking a real interest in all the stands, stalls and gardens. Prince Charles has attended the show every year since his grandmother, The Queen Mother, died, who was also an enthusiastic supporter of the show.
If you’ve been to the Norfolk Show, you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s like a “mini” Norfolk show. There are about 200 trade stands around the grounds or in the marquees, along with some of the leading nurseries and horticultural specialists who exhibit their plants.
There are display gardens to gain inspiration from.
There is fun on the carousel!
There are steam engines puffing away and displays of old farm machinery.
And you can even just while away you time sitting on straw bales, watching the various attractions that are on during the day in the main arena. A young motorcycle team to the dog displays to the volunteer bands and so much more. And weather permitting, there is usually a Spitfire flying over.
Food of course is plentiful so if you don’t want to bring a picnic then you can buy excellent goodies from local producers, always nice to support.
Don’t forget that if you attend the Flower Show, you also get to wander around the grounds of Sandringham House. The Sandringham gardens and lakes are beautiful and I would strongly suggest you take some time to do this.
And why not bring your dog for your day out too. Lots do, and you’ll be delighted to learn that the organisers have thought of everything. You’ll find posters of dogs, with bowls full of water dotted around the parkland. Good old Norfolk is just living up to its dog friendly status!
As well as the garden, you can visit the church, which I know that once inside, you’ll be mightily impressed with. Apart from being considered one of the finest carrstone buildings in the UK, it also has an amazing silver altar which was presented to Queen Alexandra and which will take your breath away.
The Sandringham Flower Show is a fantastic day out for all ages. There really is something for everyone, and a chance to enjoy a little bit of Norfolk that has a wonderful history attached to it.
And once you’ve finished at the flower show, you can continue to make the day even more enjoyable by nipping along to Wolferton village and visiting the fantastic Wolferton Royal Station, a beautifully restored “station without tracks” that, until 1965, was used by the Royal Family when visiting Sandringham.