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Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Constance Spry Vases

Anyone looking at our Instagram will see a recurring theme of homage to Constance Spry and in particular her beautiful vases.  We have now accumulated quite a collection and have decided to spread the word and share this pleasure through our shop window.

In a rare moment of practicality my grandmother Jet gave us, as a wedding present, a copy of Constance Spry’s bible of cookery and household management, which still sits somewhat dog eared through heavy use in our kitchen bookcase.  Constance Spry after an early career as a teacher became a significant force in the world of floristry and cookery in the middle of the last century.  Her approach to flower arranging was revolutionary at the time and was much in demand for many prestigious commissions including traffic stopping window displays and society occasions including among various Royal events, the wedding of the Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson in 1937.  Probably her most famous commission of all was arranging the flowers in Westminster Abbey for the 1953 coronation, where at the same time she also invented ‘Cornation Chicken’ as part of her catering contract for the foreign dignitaries. Her food education and household management theories and educational skills were used by the War Office in the second world war, and she established the Winkfield cookery school shortly thereafter.

Behind what became a society veneer was the more turbulent reality of two marriages, the self reliance of a female pioneering business woman and teacher and a romance with the unconventional artist Hannah Gluck, whose work she influenced. She worked her way up from comparatively unprivileged beginnings to employing at one time over 70 people in her business and her long tenure at her famous shop at 67 South Audley Street is marked by English Heritage with a commemorative blue plaque.  Her ability to cause a stir persisted long after her death with her influence being acknowledged by many contemporary famous florists and also with the controversy of the Design Museum exhibition of 2004.

She founded the Fulham pottery to create her own collection of flower containers and these designs are still treasured and give huge pleasure to this day.