George V coronation took place at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911 and was celebrated by the Festival of Empire in London. George V was proclaimed King George V following his father, Prince Albert Edward’s death on 6 May 1910. Throughout London and the rest of England, people celebrated his coronation by throwing parties in their local area. In Buckingham, residents celebrated the coronation of George V on the grounds of St. Peter and St. Pauls Parish Church.
On the day of George V coronation, men, women and children gathered at the church to celebrate. In a picture from Buckinghamshire Archives, it shows the women dressed in their best frocks and the men in suits, sat on chairs around long tables that would’ve most likely been set up on the grassed area so everyone could enjoy a huge spread of food and drinks. Typical food that would’ve appeared were finger sandwiches, jelly, tinned fruit, rock cakes and tea of course! There would’ve also been bunting erected above their heads and union jack flags pinned everywhere. The Street Party Organisation say that; ‘before 1919 there had been a long-held history of residents dressing streets for national occasions, using flags, garlanded material, sometimes with an arch.’
Later in the day, based on other events, we can guess that the children enjoyed playing games such wooden tops, marbles, yo-yos and wooden hoops which were rolled with a stick called a dowel. There would’ve also been plenty of room at the church for them to play tag, leapfrog and hopscotch if they wanted. Another form of entertainment that was documented at the church was a fire hose battle. This is where a handful of men got a fire hose and sprayed water at each other.
There are lots of great images of what the coronation parties looked like, available on Buxplore within the History route when you go to the location of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Parish Church on the app.
The trees at the church are known as coronation trees. This is because they were planted when various coronations took place back in the early 1900s and still stand proud today. They have plaques attached to them commemorating previous coronations such as George V and Edward VII. However, the plaques that are attached aren’t as visible anymore as they have grown into the trees themselves, intertwined amongst their large roots!
Want to know more about the church? St Peter and St Paul’s church was built on Castle hill in 1781 after the old church steeple fell and destroyed the earlier building in 1776. The site was given by the Verney’s of Claydon House, who had a keen political interest in Buckingham, and also gave the Town Mayor his chain in 1884. Parts of this church were refurbished by famed architect Sir Gilbert Scott, he added the chancel, porch, buttresses, and all of the gothic features that can be found today.