‘It’s nice to see the joy’: Wiltshire town dresses up for lockdown | World news

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The January skies may be grey and the Covid-19 developments relentlessly grim but the townsfolk of a Wiltshire town are hitting back by turning their community into a riot of colour.

Front doors and windows in Malmesbury – population 5,000 – have been decorated with glorious images of spring and summer: flowers, butterflies and bunnies, vivid green foliage and multi-coloured bunting. Some have let their imaginations run wild, creating other-worldly tableaux of dragons, fairies, unicorns and mermaids.




a miniature fairy garden



A fairy garden made by Alison Humphries in front of her home. Photograph: Sam Frost/The Guardian

Even the railings of the venerable 12th-century abbey have been cheered up with woollen pompoms and shells that spell out the name of the project, Hope Springs Eternal, which has been borrowed from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man.

“Our lovely community are taking it to their hearts,” said organiser Jackie Peel, who had the idea as she contemplated the end of the town’s Christmas lights trail, which raised spirits over the festive period.

“We thought what else could we do to cheer people up over the next few weeks of lockdown three and put a smile on faces,” said Peel, who runs a marketing consultancy business. Suggestions were invited on one of the town’s Facebook pages and a resident came up with the name Hope Springs Eternal.




Susan Gaulter and Linda Sullivan



Neighbours Susan Gaulter and Linda Sullivan with their bunnies and bunting display. Photograph: Sam Frost/The Guardian

Peel said: “This encapsulated the theme perfectly and asked people to decorate their doors with spring flower wreaths, windows with flowers, pictures drawn by the children, anything that brings a smile to their faces.”

Peel’s own display includes flowers using buttons from her grandmother’s old sewing box. “She would have loved that. We are all concerned about people’s mental health getting through this latest lockdown and judging by the comments and interest shown so far, I think people need something to focus on.”


More than 100 homes and businesses are taking part. Young and old, from a brownie group to residents of a care home, are doing their bit.

Local writer Rosalyn English has written a poem rather than produce a work of art concluding: “The universe, the magic, a mystery/Reliant on each other, always will be.”

Wendy Sullivan, 67, who is shielding, said it had been a huge comfort to her to work on Hope Springs Eternal. “I think it’s absolutely brilliant,” she said.

Sullivan has made a display of flowers and butterflies fashioned out of whatever she could find around her home. “I couldn’t be too ambitious because I didn’t have that much material and obviously can’t get out but it’s wonderful we have something to do.”




David Shelly



David Shelley with his species-specific painted butterflies. Photograph: Sam Frost/The Guardian

David Shelley spent hours painting butterflies – specific species rather than generic ones – while someone else has created a sweet fairy garden using real green shoots poking through the chilly ground as a centrepiece.

The town’s deputy mayor, Paul Smith, and his wife, Frances, are pleased with the display of their home, a former pub well known in the town as the spot of an 18th-century fatal tiger attack – the animal was from a touring circus.

Paul said his role was to hold the ladders and make cups of tea while his wife decorated their double-fronted sash window with paper roses balanced on antique books and delicate butterflies dancing through foliage made out of an old atlas.

“The town is looking really bright and cheerful,” said Frances. “It’s nice to see the joy in people’s faces as they pass. People usually don’t like it when passers-by peer in through their windows but nothing pleases us more when they do just that.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘It’s nice to see the joy’: Wiltshire town dresses up for lockdown | World news

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