Spotlight On… Barley Flower Tower
In February 2021, in the village of Barley, in the midst of what felt like a never ending lock down, Alison White was trying to think of a project to bring the whole village together while still following the rules of the covid pandemic.
A few months earlier in December a number of crafty villagers had helped the Barley Knitting group to complete a 7 foot tall Christmas tree made from knitted squares to complement their annual Post box yarn bombing campaign. Everyone had so enjoyed being involved that an idea began to germinate… let’s think big and create a Flower Tower, the image of the tower of London covered in ceramic poppies sprung to mind.
Perhaps we could get a similar effect getting everyone to knit stitch or stitch flowers then attaching them to a fruit cage net and hang it on the tower of St. Margaret of Antioch church which is in the centre of the village. This time the flowers would be multi-coloured to look like a summer garden, even the hanging gardens of Barley and surely they would make everyone smile. Everyone could make the flowers at home, deliver them to a box in the church porch and we could work together without actually meeting up until lock down was lifted!!!
The Barley Village Challenge to create a Flower Tower began in March 2021. We launched the project with posters and a post on the Barley Village Facebook page and had a great response.
We had hoped to collect in about 500 flowers for our display, which was quite ambitious as there are just over 300 households in the village, but so far we have got 1402 flowers!
Barley Gardening Club, Barley Community Group, Barley Tennis Club, Margaret House (care home), Barley first school and the beavers and cubs, Barley knitting group plus numerous individuals and families all got involved. We opened the challenge up to friends and family from further afield and we have received flowers from surrounding towns and villages and as far away as Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Maidenhead, Newcastle upon Tyne, Dungannon, Australia and USA.
A group of about 12 people have spent 4 weeks stitching the flowers on to the enormous, 13 x 5 metre fruit cage net (donated by Reg, our recently retired Church Warden). We have a second net and a third net filled with flowers to ensure every flower created is included. The nets were hoisted up the tower in mid-June with the enthusiastic assistance of the Team from Royston Fire Station.
We are working closely with the Royston Photographic Society whose members are documenting the process as part of their project to record community events as the country unlocks.
The Barley Flower Tower online Just Giving campaign has just commenced to help Barley Church with its regular running costs and its vision of becoming a much more usable space to be used by the whole village, improving disabled access, constructing a kitchen and adding toilet facilities (currently there is only an outside tap!). This would enable the church to be used for live music, cinema, suppers etc. etc.
The Flower Tower will remain in place for 3 months and we hope lots of people will visit Barley to see it. There are lots of lovely walks to enjoy around the village and a village shop and two pubs to visit while here.