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A Festival of Flowers With Songs of Praise

Photographing bugs and insects is quite addictive! I hope you will enjoy exploring the natural world with me.

Swags on Pillars at the Swaffham Flower Festival

Swags on Pillars

Swags on Pillars

The beautiful Stain Glass Windows in Swaffham Church, Norfolk, UK

The beautiful Stain Glass Windows in Swaffham Church, Norfolk, UK

Swaffham Church St Peter & St Paul Swaffham with St Mary Sporle

Swaffham Church St Peter & St Paul Swaffham with St Mary Sporle held their bi-annual Flower Festival event at the week-end.

The church has stood on this site since the 12th Century. It sprang from the ruins of an earlier one which dates to around 1454 and is one of the finest mediaeval churches in the whole of East Anglia.

This years flower festival theme was ‘Hymns of Praise’ and all the flower arrangers took their inspiration from much loved or well known hymns to interpret their favorite Hymns with beautiful flowers, sheet music and a huge dose of creativity..

We just happened to be visiting friends in the area and were walking around the market square when we noticed a few signs which advertised the event. None of us could ever have anticipated the treat which lay in store for us behind the grey walls of this ancient church.

I had even left my Nikon D300s camera locked up in the boot of my car! Needless to say I was soon making my way back to the car to retrieve it. This was one event which deserves a place in history.

Outside Niches

Arranged by Jean Bishop

Arranged by Jean Bishop

The Significance of Dreams

The significance of dreams is sometimes emphasized in myths or legends. However, it does seem apparent that those people who benefit most from their dreams need to be both honest and also hard working. They should also have the willingness to follow their dreams.

Once Upon a Time

A very long time ago, lived a poor pedlar in Swaffham Town. He lived with his wife and children in a small cottage which stood beneath the shadow of a great oak tree

As he worked, his little dog would trudge behind him. Life was difficult and the pedlar was barely able to provide for himself and his family. When the day was done, all he could do, was climb wearily into bed, grateful for the rest, he would fall asleep.

One night as he slept, he dreamed a dream in which he saw himself standing on the Old London Bridge with the traffic bustling about him. He saw many shops and many prosperous people. He took these things as a sign that he would one day prosper.

On the next night he dreamed the same dream and so too, on the third day. He knew he could no longer disregard the dream or the message it appeared to contain. So, with his little dog trudging close behind he set off for London.

Exhausted and weary, he eventually found himself standing on the Great London Bridge just as he had seen himself doing in his dream. He saw great ships and shops and very many people and experienced the hustle and the bustle of the city but nothing he saw, gave him a sign which might help him to better understand the significance of his dream.

On the third day, as he stood on the bridge, a curious shopkeeper stopped by to chat. He asked the pedlar, do you have something to sell or are you just begging? The pedlar replied, ' I have nothing to sell and no, why would I ask for alms, when I am quite capable of working!

Puzzled, the shopkeeper asked him ‘What is your business then?

Surprised at the shopkeeper’s directness, the Peddler spoke of his dream, to which the Shopkeeper fell about laughing. What a poor foolish Peddler he said, to take such a long journey just because of a dream! Why he said, I myself have dreamed a similar dream for the past two nights. I was in Swaffham, in a place which is quite unknown to me, I was standing in the orchard of a pedlars’ cottage under the shade of a great oak tree. I dreamed that if I dug beneath the great oak tree I would find a great fortune in gold. I am not so foolish that I would embark on such a long journey as you have done, just to follow a dream.

My good fellow said he, learn from a much wiser fellow, go home and stick to your business. But in spite of this advice, the pedlar felt a great joy descend upon him and it was with a glad heart that he headed straight home to Swaffam with his little dog keeping close at his heels.

Once there he began digging beneath the boughs of the great oak tree. It were not long before he revealed a pot of gold and Inside he found many coins and it also contained an inscription, in lettering which he could not understand, so he took it to a more learned friend who could decipher Latin. It read:-

‘Under me doth lie another much richer than I.’

And so once more, the peddler returned with his little dog to the great oak tree where he revealed a much larger cache of treasure beneath the tree. He became a very rich man.and being a man of such sound character he made it his duty to never forget those less fortunate than himself... He also shared his good fortune to help repair and improve the church in Swaffham.

It is believed that the Pedlar represented in the wooden carving inside the church is in fact John Chapman with his muzzled dog.

A 15th century Black Book which is still held in the Swaffham Church Library records lists the benefactors of the church, Chapman is named as being one of those... It records that he also paid for the new north aisle. He also contributed to the spire fund in 1462 and was a churchwarden during the time when the church was being re-built. He is largely regarded as being 'the Pedlar of Swaffham'

The wooden carvings of a woman with a rosary on the stall opposite his in the church, is said to depict his wife. It can be found on the remains of the Chapman family box pew.

The generosity of John Chapman has never been forgotten by the people of Swaffham. The town sign depicts the legendary peddler who had the courage and determination to follow his dream 500 years earlier.

Do you have the courage and inclination to follow your dreams?

The Pedlar of Swaffham - John Chapman

The Pedlar of Swaffham - John Chapman

The Pedlar of Swaffham - John Chapman

A message to the Floral Artists Featured here.

I thank you in advance for reading this Hub. Please feel free to contact me should I have omitted any facts or names - or even attributed any of the floral arrangements to the wrong person or Hymn. This will enable me to set the record straight.

Thank you for sharing you beautiful work with the public at large.

© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 07, 2017:

Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 06, 2017:

What a beautiful story. It warms the heart.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 12, 2015:

Lee Cloak

Glad you enjoyed this hub, almost time to think about our beautiful Flower Festivals again. This is one which should not be missed.

Your comment is valued and appreciated. thank you so much.

Lee Cloak on April 12, 2015:

Fantastic hub, very very enjoyable, I will definitely read it again, voted up, thanks, Lee

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on September 06, 2014:


You are very welcome, I am glad you enjoyed your visit to Swaffham Church Flower Festival, even if I could only transport you there with pictures and accompanying text.

Dianna Mendez on September 05, 2014:

What a beautiful memory to capture and all from just one simple visit. The photos are lovely. Thanks for sharing this experience with readers.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on September 04, 2014:

DJ Anderson,

I think you will find that the flower is a Calla Lily, Arum Lily 'Black Pearl. It is stunningly beautiful, especially with the dark roses and carnations.

The white variety of the Arum Lily is very common in South Africa - growing in damp boggy conditions but the variety you see here would have to be grown indoors in colder climates.

I am glad you enjoyed the old tale and the flowers. I very much appreciate your visit and your very kind comments,


DJ Anderson on September 04, 2014:

Oh, what a wondrous story! I simply loved it.

Sally, I do not know names of flowers. Please excuse me, but what is the

deep colored flower which is in a floral arrangement in front of John Edward and Arthur Wallace Turn_'s tombstone. The hymn is # 139,

Praise To The Lord, The Almighty. It includes the Holy Bible with alabaster Praying Hands.

The story about the pedlar is enchanting. And, you are a most talented


Thank you for sharing this delightful old tale and you professional grade



Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 30, 2014:


Thank you very much, I am so glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate your stopping by,


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 30, 2014:

This is a very enjoyable hub, Sally. The photos are beautiful and the story is lovely.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 30, 2014:

Thanks. You too!


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 30, 2014:


Thank you so much Ann, I really appreciate your continued support and especially the comment about my photography. It was nice doing something different for a change and I cannot praise enough, the work of the very talented Floral Arrangers without whom I would not have had the opportunity. They deserve all the credit and of course it would never looked as it does not, without the Pedlar - the Church looked stunning.

Have a lovely week-end


Ann Carr from SW England on August 30, 2014:

What a beautiful hub and such fantastic photos! I love the idea of the festival theme and the story of the pedlar is wonderful.

I'm so glad you went back for your camera! Well done! Ann

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 30, 2014:

FlourishAnyway I am so gad you paid this hub a visit. I very much enjoyed writing it and also taking the photos. Thank you for your continued support. It is much appreciated.


FlourishAnyway from USA on August 30, 2014:

This was a beautiful hub. The photos were superb and the story delightful. I was so glad you happened upon the church in your walk.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 30, 2014:


I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed your visit to Swaffham Church, the Flower Festival. I can quite honestly say I have never seen a church more beautiful decorated. It is also perhaps one of the most beautiful churches in the area - the woodwork too is exceptional.

Thank you so much for stopping by to comment.


Martie Coetser from South Africa on August 30, 2014:

Sally, this is an awesome hub with even more awesome pictures of the Swaffham Flower Festival. Seeing all of that with one's own eyes must be a mind-blowing experience. Thank you so much for sharing :)

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 29, 2014:


Thank you so much, I am always delighted to have you stop by. I am glad you enjoyed this one - especially the photos as it was such a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to take them.

Have a lovely week-end.


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 29, 2014:


It is always lovely to have your come and visit one of my Hubs, in particular, this one, as I thought it might be something you would enjoy. I appreciate every comment you make, thank you so much for your continued support.

Best wishes


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 29, 2014:

This is an awesome event, and do it such justice with your expert photography. Thank you for sharing this very rich history and culture. The legend of the pedlar in Swaffham Town is very interesting.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on August 29, 2014:

Wow! You certainly did fantastic work here. The photos are gorgeous and such an interesting hub. Voted up!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 29, 2014:

Faith Reaper

I love the wall hanging too, also the floral arrangement which stood by it. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to see the church in all. it's glory. I have been there several times before but never have I seen a church more beautiful.

Thanks so much for the up++ tweet and pin.



Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 28, 2014:

My goodness, Sally, this is a most interesting and beautiful hub here. Your photos are truly breathtaking. Thank you for taking us along with you to the wonderful flower festival! And what a wonderful theme, ‘Hymns of Praise’ combined with flowers. What can be more beautiful? I really love that wall hanging.

Up ++++ tweeting, pinning


Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on August 28, 2014:

Thank you Billy, I really appreciate the comment about the title. Sometimes I find this the most difficult thing. I thought long and hard about it and then I just dived in. I am glad you enjoyed the images too - it makes it all so worthwhile.


Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 28, 2014:

A great title, Sally. Really, you drew me in with the title alone, and then the pics and the article were superb. Thank you for sharing this beautiful place with us.


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