Stonehenge began day one of its first dahlia festival in 178 years, resurrecting a short-lived tradition that first began in 1843, by placing hundreds of the flowers outside of its Visitors’ Centre.

Dahlias reached the peak of their popularity in the early Victorian years after their introduction to the UK from their native Mexico via Europe in 1798.

In 1842, the Salisbury Plains Dahlia Society decided to move their annual show to Stonehenge from a pub on an aristocratic estate after its patron died.

The society found new patrons in Sir Edmund Antrobus and Lady Antrobus, whose estate then held Stonehenge, and John Keynes.

Louise Crawley, landscape advisor and historian for English Heritage, said that Stonehenge was a very unusual location for a flower show due to its isolated location, and that most flower shows were hosted in pubs and inns.

Louise said: “The shows start here in 1842, so there are four shows that happened up to 1845, all with the backdrop of Stonehenge, and its an extreme novelty. They actually say that in the papers- Stonehenge, ‘extreme novelty,’ for having the dahlia shows here, so its not a normal venue for a flower show, by any means.”

SEE ALSO: Salisbury Mexican restaurant comes in fourth place on national TripAdvisor 'Hidden Gem' list

Graham Young, of Shrewton, has been a member of the National Dahlia Society for 12 years. Despite his membership in the society and living a stone’s throw away from the stones, he said he had never heard of the 1840s Stonehenge dahlia shows before he was contacted to help out with the revival this year.

Graham said: “To a local, Stonehenge is just Stonehenge. I see it there every day. On my way to school and that, I used to see it. So it’s just there for me.”

On Friday, September 29, three expert judges will choose their favourite dahlias, and the public will then be invited to vote for their favourite from among these.

Jane Thomas, marketing manager for English Heritage, said: “In the 1840s, there was a dahlia that was grown called the Hero of Stonehenge, and we are going to crown one of them the New Hero of Stonehenge.”

The New Hero of Stonehenge will not be officially recognised as a dahlia variant by the National Dahlia Society, as this requires two continuous years of cultivation, but will bear the honour of the first winning dahlia at Stonehenge in nearly 180 years.

The dahlia display at Stonehenge will remain until Sunday, October 1.