100 years ago the gardener persuaded the then minister of Sprouston and his wife to enter the Daily Mail Sweet Pea competition to be held in the Crystal Palace, London, the prizes being £1,000 for the first, the second £100 and the third £50. This competition generated immense interest and excitement over the whole of the
The minister, The Rev. D Denholm Fraser picked two bunches and asked his wife which she preferred. The choice being made he packed the two boxes of sweet peas and strapped them to the carrier of his bike and pedalled to the General Post office at Kelso. There the sweet peas were dispatched by train to Berwick upon Tweed before being transferred to the
The competition with an expected entry of perhaps 15000 was overwhelmed with 38,000 entries. A vast army of Post Office and Railway Company staff plus Boy Scouts aided by horse drawn Post Office vans delivered the sweet peas to
The competition results were announced by The Countess of Bective and transmitted by the A.B.C. Telegraph Machine. The machine sprang into life in the Sprouston sub-post office; the first prize was Mrs. J.H. Fraser’s entry. Twenty minutes later the machine functioned again; the third prize had been awarded to The Rev. D.D. Fraser.
The prizes allowed the Manse to be furnished but more importantly provide the funds to build the chancel for the present day Church.
An account of the Competition was subsequently written by the Rev. Fraser under the title “A Bunch of Sweet Peas” , a copy of which is in the Society Archive.
To mark the centenary a sweet pea competition will be held at Sprouston of 13th. August next which all are invited to enter.