Where it all began...

The Market House on the centre of the Parade showing the Market House arcades viewed from East Street.

14th September 1831-

The first show was held in the Assembly Rooms on the Parage 14th September 1831. The Object of the Show was the encouragement of horticulture in its various branches, by means of premiums to be given for the best specimens of flowers, fruit and vegetables. It was set up by the gentlemen of the area to show off the expertise of their gardeners.

President Mr. E. A. Sandford M.P. John Young of Youngs Nurseries, Elms Parade, Staplegrove was secretary. Number of classes for gardeners of the gentry, fruit 11, vegetables 8, flowers 17, including 8 classes of Dahlias; Nurserymen – fruit 2, flowers 17.


June & September

park entrance 1851

The Show moves to Vivary Park

View of the Park entrance from the top of High Street

First shows in Vivary Park in June and September of 1851. Consisting of 5½ acres of fields or parkland, owned by Mr. Kinglake, who lived in Wilton House, and scattered with sheep and cattle. The entrance to the park was at the top of High Street, but no ornamental gates.


Flower Show with Poultry Exhibition 2 day show in June and another Show in September, Fireworks on the Parade in the evening.



1866 Somerset County Gazette ad

Advertisement in the August 1866 Somerset County Gazette

Town decorated completely from the station to the park. Afternoon show held in August. Triumphal arch erected over the entrance to the Park at the top of High Street, 3 large marquees erected in addition to tents for committee and refreshments. Fountain erected on the Parade. Marine band from Plymouth. Fireworks on the Parade.



Bilbergia moreliana

One of the many new varieties introduced at Taunton Flower Show to the public.

There were heavily laden trains of visitors from Somerset & Devon. New plants were introduced from America and Brazil.



This arch was erected in the high street

There was a competition for best Triumphal Arch erected in the streets by nurserymen.



The show was judged to be the finest in the West of England, one of the finest in the United Kingdom and in some respects holding the first place in England. Taunton had the finest show of greenhouse and stove plants in the country.



Committee asked the Town Council for free use of the park, normal charge £10 10s. Council agreed to halve the charge.



cancellation letter in 1914

Letter sent to traders in 1914

Due to the start of World War I the Flower Show Committee felt it necessary to cancel the show.



This was the first Flower Show after 4 years of war. It was judged by Mr. Wright Super-intendant of RHS Wisley to have had the best after-the-war start in the country despite no valuable cups being offered as at other shows.



An incredible 7,320 people attended the evening Fireworks. Show changed to Friday and Saturday which is how it has remained for the past 84 years. A Fun Fair was also added.



After five years of war the Flower Show re-opened in conjunction with the Holidays at Home scheme. Show held on Thursday.



Show layout in 1948 - tents shown on the now cricket ground and in the park.

The Showground in 1948

The show was so big it was moved to the now Taunton Deane Cricket Ground, total floor space of marquees 26,000 square feet with 160 classes. Trade Marquee 440ft long.



Taunton Flower Show was named the Chelsea of the West by the judge Mr W. H. Abbess. ‘It certainly vies with Shrewsbury, Southport or Chelsea’.



Record crowd of 16,000 over two days. Julia Clements, international and national floral art judge, said she was ‘quite staggered by the quality and high standard attained’ and described the show as the ‘Chelsea of the West’.



Marquees post fire in 1979

The Fire of 1979

Disastrous fire on 31st July devastated the competitors’ marquee and caused £50,000 damage. New tent erected and volunteers reset staging and 36 hours later the show went ahead.



Vivary Park flooded in 1989

The Flood of 1997

Great Flood closed the Show. Judging of both competition and traders went ahead.



Show Gardens, Rural Crafts section and Ready Steady Garden introduced. Show moved to Friday and Saturday. Outings arranged for Flower Show Members. A Children’s area created in Wilton Lands which later moved back into Vivary Park.



A Farmers’ Market introduced which has become a very successful Food Hall.



Taunton Flower Show Day 1

Wilton Land's Introduced

Taunton Deane agreed that Wilton Lands could be incorporated into the show which now houses Food Hall, traders and an entertainments area. Entertainment area created around the Fountain.



Statement on cancellation of the Show in 2020



Show held on Castle Green, Taunton with Competitive Marquee and trade stands.

2021 was a reduced Show due to there still being uncertainty around Covid



First Full Show Post Pandemic

With over 15,000 visitors on the two show days, the first full show since 2019 was a big success!

Programmes Through The Years…