#OnePlaceStudies Society has monthly blogging prompts. #OnePlaceCelebrations is the prompt for December 2021
In 1953 the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was celebrated throughout the Commonwealth. Sticklepath had a television in the village hall so all the villagers had the opportunity to watch the innovative broadcast.
I believe there were two trees planted to commemorate the coronation. One in front of St Mary’s Church, which was lost when the road was widened, plus this one in the burying ground. Muriel Bowden, president of the Women’s Institute (WI) is holding the spade and the youngest member of the WI, Gracie Fildew, is helping. Unfortunately this tree was also lost, destroyed by fire.
Church bells would have been rung in the villages all around and the sound carried to Sticklepath on the wind. For certain something would have been done for the children as well as everyone else to celebrate, perhaps a lunch or tea. I remember my Grandmother and Great Aunt making huge muslin tea bags to go in the extra large teapots used for such events. All the extra sugar bowls would have been washed and polished in advance, alongside crockery and cutlery. Elaborate plans would have been in place for sandwiches, cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam, mainly by the ladies of the Women’s institute.
This tableau would have been part of an afternoon or evening entertainment, with readings and poetry, singing and other musical interludes as well as the National Anthem whilst everyone stood to attention. I can recognise some but not all of the queens and the actors!
It would have been a happy and exciting but long and tiring day. You can imagine all the washing up, clearing and cleaning and moving of chairs and tressle tables afterwards.
The flag on the hill looking down over Sticklepath, next to White Rock where Wesley preached, would have been flying high.
Looking back to 1937 the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette tells us in April that permission had been given for a bonfire on the common above White Rock to celebrate the Coronation of George VI and his Queen Elizabeth. Latex balloons became popular in the 1930s so it is likely there were balloons at the village celebration. I wonder if anyone has any photographs? This was the first coronation to be filmed live for television and the first outside broadcast. However no cameras were allowed inside Westminster Abbey.
For the third Coronation we take a step further back in time again: 22 Jan 1901 Queen Victoria died. The Coronation of Edward VII and Alexandra was planned for 26 June the following year. Local events too were all planned and booked, but at the last minute the King got an appendicitis-type problem, so everything had to be delayed until 9 August. Imagine the committee members stress and the concerns for the King! Many sued for loss of rental income from those who had booked at high prices to stay in London for the event.
On 12 August The Western Times reports that the Coronation celebrations in Sticklepath were carried out in “loyal manner”, commencing with a service in Sticklepath Wesleyan Methodist Chapel conducted by the Rev James Finch at 2.30. I am sure the children would have all sat still under his beady eye!
The itinerary at Sticklepath continued: At 3.30 there was a distribution of Coronation medals to all children under 14 with tea for them at 4pm. All adult parishioners also had a free tea at 5pm. At 6pm a wide range of sports took place. Finally at 9pm the large bonfire was lit and a grand firework display finished the evening in style. I am sure there would have been parades and the very successful Sticklepath Brass band would have been in demand for events across the area. Decorations for the celebrations may have included flags, banners and bunting.
I was interested to learn that a staged representation of the coronation was filmed. Following the postponement however, some of the planned details of the day itself had to be altered.
A few days after the actual coronation, the film was screened for the King. Edward VII is said to have commented: “Many congratulations! This is splendid! What a marvellous apparatus cinema is. It’s found a way of recording even the parts of the ceremony that didn’t take place.”
Many thanks to Wikipedia and The British Newspaper Archive for background information.
Quote is referenced on Wikipedia as
Ezra, Elizabeth (2000), Georges Méliès, Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 66–68, ISBN 0719053951