Facts and figures about the ever-popular Sandringham Flower Show were given in an informative talk to members of King’s Lynn U3A.
The speaker was show chairman David Reeve, who said it has existed since 1864, two years after Queen Victoria bought the Sandringham estate as a gift for her eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales.
Many estate employees had colourful and fruitful gardens and the aim of the first show was to bring them together in exhibiting their flowers and produce at a village fete.
So began this famous show to which many visitors travel many miles. There have been 135 shows since the first one. The only times that it has not taken place was during the two World Wars and on the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer.
Planning for the Sandringham Flower Show these days begins as soon as the current one is over. Costs have escalated since the first show when the entry cost was 1 shilling. Entry has now risen to £10 per person but remains excellent value in comparison with many similar shows around the country. The costs of putting on the show with events in the main arena are high, especially including the hire of marquees and blocks of mobile toilets to name but two.
The profits made by the show, once expenses are taken off, go to local charities and in the last 10 to 15 years this has totalled £750,000.
Of course, the presence of members of the royal family add to the prestige of the event and the late Queen Mother saw the Sandringham Flower Show as an important day in her diary.
Her interest has been taken over by the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who spend time talking informally to visitors and stall-holders. There are 200 of the latter with a waiting list of a further 400.
The Sandringham Flower Show continues to evolve, with last year a children’s competition for decorated vegetables being introduced.