The first exhibition this season, was held at the Town Hall on Tuesday last. The day was favourable and a highly respectable and numerous concourse of spectators thronged the hall. The brass band of the 43rd Light Infantry enlivened the scene. The floral devices were very superior and striking, and the classic arrangements of some elicited great approbation. At 3 o’clock Mr Fector MP announced the successful competitors in the presence of the Lady patroness of the Society, the Countess of Guilford.” (Note: prizewinners all listed.)
(Kentish Gazette, 2 July 1838, page 3, col 3)


AURICULAS have been cultivated for possibly 500 years or more. It is thought they were introduced into Britain from Switzerland about 1567 and also brought to England by Huguenot weavers who were forced to flee France in 16th Century. They were also grown in Holland and France and were part of the general flower-collecting craze but this never reached the same levels as “Tulipmania”. John Tradescant the Elder [gardener to Charles 1] was growing auriculas by 1633, in his gardens at Lambeth.

Ornate show-cases of tiered staging, called auricula theatres were used to display plants in pots when in flower and “Auricula Feasts” “Pink Feasts” and “Polyanthus Feasts” were held in areas where the Huguenots settled in England, including parts of East Kent, up to the early 19th century. These “Feasts” were flower shows for specific flowers, with dinners, usually patronised by the local gentry.

Thomas Pattenden of Dover was an auricula enthusiast, and gardener, and says in his diaries:

“1798: Sat 3 Feby Mr Wyborn from Northbourne brought me an Orlean Plumb and a May Duke Cherry tree, he set them in the garden for me against the wooden fence.

11 Sept set out some of the Auriculas in new pots.

18 Sept This afternoon Mr Black sent me some polyanthus roots, which I put in ye garden.

6 Oct I put the peony roots in, which Mr Patten sent me.

23 Nov Mr Richards brought me the Tulip and Ranunculus roots. I put in the former 3 inches below and the latter 2 inches below the surface of the pots.

26 Nov Put in 7 tulips single roots under wall.

1799 20 Aug This forenoon Mr Wyborn called in and nailed and pruned the Plumb and Cherry trees… in the evening Mr Stalkartt came and tarred both the Rain Butts.

13 Sept I removed and set out 15 pots of Auriculas.

16 Sept I went to Mrs Thompson’s and changed some Auricula plants those I had of her she said were called Severn’s Fame.

17 Sep I went down to Mrs Saure’s who gave me eleven Auricula plants which I brought home and set out in new pots.”