Halesworth to host events and exhibitions to mark bicentenary of Joseph Hooker’s birth

Joseph Hooker in America in the 1870s. Picture: Courtesy of Millennium Green Trust.

Joseph Hooker in America in the 1870s. Picture: Courtesy of Millennium Green Trust. - Credit: Archant

A series of events to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the famous 19th century botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker are being staged in Halesworth.

Botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Picture: Courtesy of Chelsea School of Botanical Art

Botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Picture: Courtesy of Chelsea School of Botanical Art. - Credit: Archant

Director of Kew Gardens and supporter of Charles Darwin, Hooker was one of the first and most important British men of science.

He was appointed director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1865 succeeding his father, and president of the Royal Society in 1873.

He was born in Halesworth on June 30, 1817, and a weekend of events to commemorate his life are being organised by the Halesworth in Bloom committee from June 30 to July 2.

The events will include an exhibition from the Chelsea School of Botanical Art at Halesworth Gallery in Steeple End.

The Cut arts centre in Halesworth. Picture: Nick Butcher.

The Cut arts centre in Halesworth. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher


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The preview evening takes place next Friday, June 30, at 6.30pm, with the exhibition opening to the public from Saturday, July 1 to Wednesday, July 19.

There is also an exhibition and presentation at The Cut arts centre on Sunday, July 2.

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Doors will open at 2pm to allow visitors to view the exhibitions, books and special commemorative items. Artwork from Edgar Sewter pupils will also be on show, inspired by a term studying Hooker paintings by Sally Marlow of plants in Halesworth linked to Hooker.

From 2.15pm, there will be a Kew presentation, with Victoria Mills talking about what Joseph Hooker's letters reveal about the man and his discoveries. Also speaking will be Professor John Parker, director of Cambridge Botanical Gardens. Tickets cost £10, available from The Cut box office, and tea will be served afterwards.

And the Millennium Green Trust will be combining its annual open day with the milestone to stage a Scientific Camp.

The camp will be set up near the entrance to Millennium Green on Sunday, July 2, between 10am and noon, modelled on those run by Hooker. It will include displays, activities and nibbles.

The event is also a chance for residents to reflect on the achievements of the year at the green and to make suggestions to trustees. Anyone who can't make the camp can visit Halesworth Library from Monday, June 26 to Saturday, July 1.

Other celebration events

St Mary's Church will be hosting a flower festival on the theme of Joseph Hooker - a love of flowers. It runs from June 30 to July 7.

A bicentenary booklet for Halesworth's Hooker Trail will be available from the museum, library and St Mary's Church.

Guided walks around the Hooker Trail, starting from Hooker House in Quay Street, will take place on July 1 at 11am and 2pm and July 2 at 11am.

Enjoy a Joseph Hooker walk within the Green Flag awarded Halesworth Town Park, with associated planting of rhododendrons and other plants first brought back by Hooker, or associated with him.

There will be a coloured montage on the window recess at the side of Hooker House, together with a new planting. It will be unveiled at noon on July 2 by Brian Thornton, president of Anglia in Bloom.

Fox's Cards in the Thoroughfare will be selling Hooker bicentenary beakers and tea towels.

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