Michael Goulding: Flower arranger who served the Queen and nine prime ministers

 

Michael Goulding was a flower arranger to royalty and to nine successive Prime Ministers and their wives, from Macmillan to Major. They were all interested in flowers: Alec Douglas-Home used to rearrange Goulding's flowers when he left the room; Dorothy Macmillan would bring flowers from Birch Grove for Goulding to arrange – when he got them they were often dead. Margaret Thatcher took a great interest in his flowers, and put his name forward for a Queen's Birthday Honours award.

After completing his National Service, Michael Francis Goulding worked at Turnford Nurseries for his good friend Thomas Rochford, whose advice he followed by attending Writtle College to study horticulture. Harold Piercy, his tutor, recognised his natural ability for flower arranging and it was there he first met the royal florist Sheila McQueen when she was judging the arrangements. It was a friendship that lasted the rest of her life.

From Writtle Goulding went to the Constance Spry Flower School in London, leading to another lifelong friendship, with Fred Wilkinson. He then worked for Pulbrook and Gould in Sloane Square for a couple of years before starting up on his own with a friend.

One of his finest achievements was his floral display at Westminster Cathedral for the Jubilee celebrations in 1977; some of the arrangements were 8ft tall and 4ft wide. Goulding's last assignment was to decorate the Queen's private rooms at Windsor Castle for the celebrations of the Queen Mother's 100th birthday.

Goulding judged for over 40 years at The Chelsea Flower Show, The RHS shows in London, and The Hampton Court Show. Over 40 years he decorated many royal palaces, stately homes and cathedrals – to name a few, Woburn Abbey, Blenheim Palace, Lancaster House, York Minster, St James Palace, Lloyds of London, Mansion House banquets; the Tower of London was once closed for three days while Goulding decorated the Crown Jewels display for a government summit meeting.

He was born in Hampstead in 1933, the youngest of three boys. At the beginning of the war they were evacuated to Halstead – it was not a happy time and they were soon back home, in Wood Green, north London. There they spent the war playing on bomb sites and watching the Battle of Britain in the skies over London. He attended the Lordship School and left at 14 to work as a messenger for a stockbroker in Threadneedle Street.

From 1954 Goulding lived with his partner, Stuart Hamilton, at their beloved home, Hipkins, in Broxbourne and created a renowned garden which was visited and admired by many people from around the world. He opened his garden at Hipkins for 40 years for the National Garden Scheme, raising more money than any other Hertfordshire garden.

He was awarded the OBE in 1990 and published his book Flower Arranging. After Stuart's death he met Michael Coates, and they became civil partners. They moved in September 1999 to Broxted in Essex and work started on another large garden – 10 acres, and more open days in aid of the National Garden Scheme followed by several fundraising floral displays.

He was a generous supporter of many charities: SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) luncheons at the Savoy, the Royal British Legion, the Essex Air Ambulance, the Isabel Hospice in Hertfordshire, the Hertfordshire Garden Trust, the Woodland Trust, Stop Stansted Expansion and the Friends of the Five Parishes. He was chairman of the latter, which has given over £80,000 for maintenance work in the group of four churches of the Five Parishes, and he served on the Broxted Church Committee.

Goulding was very proud of his devoted Scottish deerhounds. From his early days as a choirboy his faith in God was strong and secure, which helped to sustain him in later life. He will be remembered for his warmth, humour, joy of life and generosity.

Michael Coates

Michal Francis Goulding, flower arranger: born 25 February 1933; OBE 1990; civil partnership with Michael Coates; died 19 August 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Laser and Router Operative

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Laser and Router Operative is...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 1st Line

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have been providing local ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive / Trainee Managers

£6000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for smart, orga...

Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones