I was delighted to be one of the guests at the grand opening of the Friends of St James’ Church Flower Festival in Cooling last Friday.
Celebrating the life and times of Charles Dickens, the flower festival was a fantastic opportunity to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of perhaps our most revered author after Shakespeare.
Located in the idyllic village of Cooling on the Hoo Peninsula, St James Church was immortalised as the location where Pip meets the convict Magwitch in Great Expectations, which many see as Dickens’ greatest work.
The church itself dates back to the 13th century and, thanks to precious voluntary work done by the Friends of St James Church, led by their tireless Chairperson Alison Bucknall, the church remains in incredibly good condition and open to the public all year round.
I was honoured to be given a special tour of St James Church by John Marks who makes sure the church is open every day to visitors. The vestry, decorated with over 1000 cockle shells to represent St James, the church’s patron saint, is quite unique and is worth visiting on its own.
The church, regaled in a beautiful display of floral design, was quite remarkable and it was great to see so many from the local community and further afield coming together to commemorate the life of Charles Dickens and to enjoy this wonderful and historic building.
My thanks and best wishes to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make this event such a success.