Snowdrop King grave to be restored for 2022 Shepton Snowdrops Festival
Partners in life and work, stone carver and sculptor, Sam Lee, and wood carver, Amelia Crowley-Roth, are recreating the decorative obelisk that once stood on the grave of prominent Victorian horticulturalist James Allen, known since the C19th as The Snowdrop King.
The carved stone obelisk that was such a prominent memorial to the life of pioneering snowdrop breeder James Allen had long since collapsed and fallen into a sorry state of disrepair until Shepton Snowdrops, set up to celebrate the legacy of James Allen, raised funds to recreate it.
Born in 1830, James Allen and his brothers worked as successful corn and cheese merchants from their mill in Shepton Mallet, but it was amateur horticulturalist James' passion and expertise in breeding new varieties of snowdrops from wild ones that earned a place for both him and the town in gardening history. Two of his best cultivars - Magnet and Merlin - are still going strong today, and it is these delicate, hope-filled flowers that Amelia and Sam want to capture and bring to life in stone, in honour of the Snowdrop King’s memory.
Amelia, born and raised in Shepton Mallet, and partner, Sam, are exceptionally talented and respected in their fields. It is a fitting tribute to James Allen that the obelisk on his family grave should be created by two highly skilled craftspeople who have chosen to live and work close to Allen’s home town in Somerset.
Dominic Weston, a director of the Shepton Snowdrops Community Interest Company, said:
“ Thanks to the remarkable James Allen, Shepton Mallet holds a very special place in horticultural history. The restoration of his grave and the creation of a new obelisk by two such talented crafts people are a fitting remembrance of a man still known a hundred years after his death as the Snowdrop King.”
Together, Amelia and Sam will create a new design for the 3.1 metre obelisk using flowers bred by Allen in his home town – snowdrop Galanthus ‘Magnet’ & ‘Merlin’, Anemone nemorosa ‘Allenii’ and Scilla x allenii. They will draw clues and inspiration from this 1906 obituary:
‘The grave, facing the door of the first Chapel, was lined with moss, and daffodils and hellebores in great variety, including some rare specimens. The interment took place in a heavy snowstorm … A large number of wreaths were placed on the coffin and bier, several of them of the spring flowers in great variety to which he had devoted so much attention.’
The new obelisk will be a focal point of the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival