St. Peter’s Church Chertsey Art Installation - AKA the ‘Flower Tower’
On Sunday 24th September, St. Peter’s will reopen its doors following a major refurbishment project. The Bishop of Guildford Rt Revd Andrew Watson will join for a special service of dedication to celebrate the re-opening of the main church building.
It’s set to be a fabulous day with an open invitation issued to the whole of Chertsey followed by a celebration lunch in the garden.
St Peters Church has been at the heart of the town of Chertsey for over 800 years. It’s an attractive, much loved medieval building, but since Victorian times, it has been largely inflexible owing to the then fashionable introduction of pews. The re-ordering of the main church returns the building to its historic roots with an open, flexible and comfortable space. Replacing the pews with modern, stackable chairs, enables the building to be used throughout the week by both the church and the wider community for a variety of different activities.
Alongside the refurbishment project and grand reopening plans there has been another rather special project – a huge art installation aka the ‘flower tower’.
Rewind to the beginning of 2023, Clare Rice, our Children’s Church Leader here at St. Peter’s, came up with an ambitious idea. She wanted to create a “flower tower” cascade to celebrate the reopening of the church building on Sunday 24th September after our long-awaited refurbishment.
Inspired by similar projects undertaken elsewhere Clare had a fabulous vision of a sea of colour cascading down the church building. We contacted several places who had undertaken similar and found the teams to be very helpful with their advice, top tips and cautionary tales!
Following much discussion and the formation of an enthusiastic and dedicated team we reached out to the local community. We knew that there was no way we could make the ‘flower tower’ a reality on our own.
So, an invitation was issued to the whole of Chertsey – we needed people to knit, crochet and sew flowers in bright colours and we needed lots of them!
And we were blown away by the response we got following an invitation to the wider community on our Facebook page. We issued an invitation for local knitters, crocheters and crafters to get involved with this ambitious project and we were not disappointed – our inbox was overflowing with people asking how they could get involved.
What wonderful creations were delivered, day after day they just kept coming!
So many amazing, talented people, local care home residents, individuals, and a number of local groups such as the craft groups at Revive coffee shop, Knit & Natter, Hub Arts & Crafts, all stepped up and got stuck in. We held an evening where we were joined by so many people who simply wanted to get involved – some brought their knitting needles and the flowers they were working on, others helped teach people who had never crocheted before, patterns were shared, friends made and everyone agreed it had been a great evening – so much so a new group has been born ‘Creative Friends’ who will meet monthly in the church hall.
A team from church were also welcomed into some of our local primary schools to do flower making workshops in the summer term, providing all the resources needed to make flowers in their school colours our volunteers had a wonderful time. The dedication from staff, children and parents was nothing short of outstanding.
One local school, whose uniform is yellow and white, created large bright yellow felt sunflowers, embellished with beads and buttons for the seeds in the centre, cheerful white daisies with yellow pom-pom centres and 3D felt daffodils, which really do look like real flowers! Even the very youngest children got involved making a fabulous selection of adorable felt bees. Each one with a different character, they’re cute and full of googly eyes, mis-shaped stripes and wobbly antennae and we love them all!
Another local school, whose uniform is red, ran a weekly craft workshop to teach the children how to crochet simple stitches, and then how to follow a pattern to crochet red poppy flowers. The children and staff worked diligently creating literally bags and bags of cheerful red flowers which run right down the very centre of the cascade, drawing the eye to the flow of the cascade.
But it didn’t stop there… as the flowers kept arriving so did the realisation that they were all going to need to be sewn onto the enormous netting that would support them as they flowed down the building.
So, phase 2 began and it was all hands-on deck to get the flowers in place and ready so that the whole thing could be hung from the tower and down the front of the church in time.
And, yet again Chertsey and the St. Peter’s community came good. The coordination and organising of this should not be underestimated, it was nothing short of ‘epic’ and would not have happened without the commitment of Maggie Boreham. Maggie not only coordinated the sewing but also welcomed people into her home in small teams in what must have at times felt like a non-stop 24-hour rota of folk tasked with sewing approximately 3000 flowers to the netting – measuring an amazing 11.5 metres in height x 7 metres at its widest point – absolutely outstanding yet again from so many people.
Vicar, Revd Tim Hillier said “The Chertsey community have been incredible. Back in May we invited the whole community to be a part of this exciting project and Chertsey, you have not disappointed.
“Our aim was to create something really special for the whole community, and so many people have stepped up and got involved.
“We could not have done this without the enormous enthusiasm and commitment offered by everyone and we can’t wait to welcome people back into the church building and to see this wonderful sight – a river of flowers flowing down the side of the building.
“This project represents so much more than just the church re-opening. It represents a time of growth and new creation; it represents St Peter’s as a central place for all of God’s people to come together as one. Jesus calls us to follow him, just as the disciples cast their nets into the sea of Galilee we cast our net across Chertsey, a wildly wonderful, colourful net that we hope will catch the hearts of all who come to visit.”
The cascade will be installed on Wednesday 20th September and stay in place through till our Harvest celebrations on Sunday 8th October.
Following the service on 24th September the church will again be open to visitors during the week with space for quiet prayer and reflection and an opportunity for people to see how it looks post refurbishment.
We really hope that all those who come to see what is set to be a spectacular sight will respect and enjoy what has been a tremendous community project, something that Chertsey can be very proud of. We hope it will lift spirits, make people smile and offer the opportunity to reflect on what an amazing community we live in.
If you would like to join St Peter’s for the special service to celebrate the reopening of the church you would be very welcome, if you would like to stay for the celebration hog roast lunch please do let the Church Office know so that the team can make sure there’s enough food and let us know if you require a vegetarian option!
RSVP for lunch – before Sunday 17th September – firstname.lastname@example.org