Slideshow: thousands view Carpet of Flowers

THE ANNUAL Carpet of Flowers has been created at Arundel Cathedral.

The carpet is a magnet for the faithful from not only all over the county, but all over Britain and abroad to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi.

JPCT 05-06-12 S12231351A Arundel Cathedral. Carpet of Flowers. -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 05-06-12 S12231351A Arundel Cathedral. Carpet of Flowers. -photo by Steve Cobb

Each year, thousands come by coach, car, bus and train to see a stunning 93-foot long Carpet of Flowers which is laid out each year along the central aisle of the cathedral.

The tradition of the Carpet of Flowers was begun by Henry, 15th Duke of Norfolk, soon after the church of St Philip Neri was completed in 1873. It was not until 1965 that the church became Arundel Cathedral.

In the early years the flowers were grown and laid by gardeners on the Norfolk Estate and then in the mid 1950s, when the estate began to shed staff, Miss Le Sage, a teacher at the then Tortington School said she would supply additional flowers. Her gardeners joined with estate gardeners to carry on the tradition.

In 1970, when she retired, some women of the parish got together and began the carpet as it is known today.

They extended the width of the carpet from four feet to six feet, and in recent years the original length of the carpet - 98 feet - was shortened to enable visitors and particularly wheelchairs to get round each end of it.

The Carpet of Flowers opens for viewing today, June 6, from 9.30am - 8pm and on Thursday from 9.30am to 5.30pm with admission free.

The procession of the Blessed Sacrament starts with Mass at 5.30pm tomorrow, Thursday, when the procession, made up of the Bishop, other members of the clergy and the congregation, walks across the carpet.

It leaves the cathedral and walks along the streets of the town to the castle quadrangle where there is Benediction.

Crowds again turn out for the procession, which is accompanied by hymns, flower girls and schoolchildren.

In the event of heavy rain, though, alternative plans are made.