Yesterday, with a group of friends from our village, I spent a wonderful day in Salisbury. We drove up from the New Forest, into the rolling farmland of Wiltshire, on a warm June morning.
In the afternoon, we walked into the great medieval cathedral, to see a Festival of Flowers.
Every space and corner in the cathedral became the backdrop for the most beautiful arrangements of flowers. The combinations of colour and form, set against the architectural grandeur of the magnificent building, were stunning.
Salisbury Cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258, when it was consecrated. The spire was added in 1320, an incredible achievement of architecture and building for any time. The cathedral is said to be the finest existing example of Early English Gothic architecture. It has been the Mother Church for Wiltshire and much of Dorset, for centuries.
For more information and images, visit http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk
The flowers had been arranged and displayed by members of the many floral art societies in Wiltshire towns and villages. Some individual flower arrangers, both amateur and professional, had created their own displays. The whole display had been planned and organised by Salisbury`s award winning floral artist, Michael Bowyer.
Some arrangements reflected the lush softness of English country gardens in the summer.
Other, less traditional displays, interpreted stories from the Bible with the symbolic use of flowers and space.
From the formal traditions of arrangement in classical urns......
....to softer, tumbling displays more redolent of wild flowers in an English country hedgerow.
A circular display of dried flower material hung in soft colours above the Nave. The upper stained glass windows can be seen behind the altar. Salisbury Cathedral is a place of ever changing light and tall, awe-inspiring spaces.
...and freer cascades of flowers bursting out of a soft triangular shape.
Colourful fruit and vegetables such as apples, red onions, purple aubergines , green courgettes and limes were subtly wired into some displays, to stunning effect.
Shapes were sometimes expanded with the use of wood , fabric and wire.
The upper East window again.........
....and in the Quire, carved wooden Angels and Mythical Beasts that have watched and listened to generations of singers in the Cathedral Choir.
Intricate stained glass in the windows of the North Transept.
We sat for a while, listening to duets between a pianist and a recorder player, as we watched Michael Bowyer create a fine floral arrangement which looked beautiful and different from every angle.
Here, the musicians prepare their music and we watch through one of several bright arrangements, each enclosed in a frame-like box.
Flowers in a smaller chapel......
....and a nest of floral "eggs".
Friends admire the hot, vibrant colours of a display.......
....placed outside a Chantry Chapel. Inside, the beautifully carved ceiling reflected softer blues and creams, fringed with gold.
Formal rings of bright flowers.......
....and modern interpretations, using ivy leaves and sharp colours of carnations.
An ancient flag.....
...a tomb from the Middle Ages......
....and the high, vaulted ceiling of the South Aisle.
A Tudor lady at prayer....
....above a soft display of pastel garden flowers.
A bright sunburst of flowers.........
.....and the effigy of Lord Hungerford, now at peace after his removal from his original chapel.
After hours in the Cathedral, where time seemed to disappear among the flowers and vaulting spaces, we found a place to rest and drink a much needed cup of tea. The restaurant has been built between the South Aisle and the Cloisters. What was once an outside place is now covered with a clear roof. From our table , we looked up to the tallest spire in England, pointing away into a clear summer sky of cloudless blue.