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Constance Spry Items for Bonhams Auction

Flower Designs For The Wedding Of Edward To Mrs. Simpson As Well As That Of The Queen Elizabeth II And Princess Anne

constance-spry.jpgSome 30 Items once owned by the society flower designer of choice, Constance Spry, whose creations added colour to royal weddings and state occasions, will be sold by Bonhams in Knightsbridge on March 3rd.

Andrew Hawkins of Bonhams Guildford office says that the collection includes vases, some designed by her, flowerstands, planters, as well as pastel portrait of Constance Spry and a series of letters from Buckingham Palace. Estimates range from £250 to £1,000 for these items which will be sold without reserve from the estate of Constance Spry and Constance Spry Limited.

After a career in teaching Constance was encouraged by her friends to turn her passion for plants and flowers into a profession. Her first shop window for Atkinson perfumers in Bond Street was a showstopper, literally, creating a huge traffic jam. Her entirely innovative use of plant material and props had catapulted here in the stratosphere of Flower Design.

She soon became the favourite designer to Royalty as well as the rich and famous. Her flower decorations graced Palaces and grand houses as well as the Opera House and other such impressive venues.

She provided decorations for the wedding of Edward to Mrs Simpson in Paris as well as that of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne. She was also asked to decorate Westminster Hall for the Coronation. To complement the style of the Hall she chose a blue red and gold theme and borrowed some huge tapestries from the British Museum to hide the war damaged walls.

Her talents were not confined to flower arranging. Her remit for the coronation included providing food for the foreign dignitaries invited to the ceremony. There were no kitchen facilities at the Hall so the main dish would be cold. However as there would be a variety of nationalities and therefore culinary tastes she thought spices should play a part. ‘Poulet Elizabeth’ or Coronation Chicken as it is most commonly known was born. As a designer she also turned her attention to containers as well as carpets (for Wilton) and wallpaper.

Her teaching background was evident when she moved to Winkfield Place, near Windsor, to open a domestic science and secretarial school. There she and her team taught young women the art of cooking and home making.

It is only her fear of flying that prevented her from colonising the whole world. She made some well-documented trips to the US and Australia but was happier on home ground.

Her death in 1960 at the age of 70 deprived the flower world of one of its leading lights although her timeless style and legacy have endured to this day.

Martine Frost, who with her husband bought the Constance Spry business some time after Ms Spry’ death in 1960 comments: “When we bought the Constance Spry business in 1990 we knew little about the company’s founder. We soon discovered an amazing story of immense talent and wonderful creative genius.”

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