The Chelsea Flower Show or The 'Royal Horticultural Society's Great Spring Show', as it was and still remains officially named, first graced the Royal Borough in 1857 when it took place in Kensington Gardens - whose acres were purchased with the proceeds from The Great Exhibition. Prince Albert took an avid interest in the show, even donating personal statues to the site. The Queen officially opened it in 1861 and a Royal visit continues to take place every year.
Esteemed horticulturist, Sir Harry Veitch, secured the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, for a one-off event. It proved such a good site for an exhibition that the Great Spring Show was moved there in 1913, where it has taken place almost every year since. Veitch was knighted for his services to horticulture and is recognized as instrumental to establishing Chelsea Flower Show in its current form.
The show was held in 1914 through to 1916 despite the First World War, but was cancelled in 1917 and 1918. By the roaring 1920s, the Chelsea Flower Show was back in full swing; the famous Chelsea tea parties were established and Royal visits resumed. In 1926 the show was delayed by a week due to the General Strike.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has transformed into one of the most celebrated annual events in the world and become the showcase for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe.
This year marks the 99th anniversary of the show in Chelsea. Since its beginning, the show has gone from strength to strength and grown from the original 244 exhibitors in 1913 to over 500 last year, including gardens, nurseries, floristry, educational displays and trade stands. It now attracts 157,000 visitors every year and continues to amaze the crowds.