Fun Fact Friday: Coronation Celebrations

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.

 

 

Fun Fact Friday: Buckingham and Lacemaking

The lace produced in Buckingham was originally known as Point d’Angleterre but local prominence in its manufacture was so great that it was commonly called Bucks Point.

Wikipedia states that “Bucks point is a bobbin lace (lace made by hand with thread wound on bone or ivory bobbins) from the East Midlands in England. “Bucks” is short for Buckinghamshire, which was the main centre of production. The lace was also made in the nearby counties of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Bucks point is very similar to the French Lille lace, and thus is often called English Lille. It is also similar to Mechlin lace and Chantilly lace.”

The BucksPoint organisation state that “although Buckinghamshire was a centre of English lacemaking from as early as the 16th century, the styles of the lace made would have varied at different periods, reflecting what was fashionable at the time which meant Bucks Point lace did not appear until the end of the 18th century.

Bucks point is made in one piece on the lace pillow, at full width with common designs being floral and geometric. The floral designs are like those in Mechlin and Lille laces, but Bucks lace is generally simpler than the Belgian laces, and is made of linen or silk.”

Lacemaking in general was quite literally a cottage industry where women worked at their lace pillow, often in the doorway or outside for good lighting, as often as they could, to make a few pennies per foot. Their children could even make narrow simple edgings almost as soon as they could sit up!

No lace maker ever made a complete piece of lace. Instead, they would learn one pattern by heart to sell to a lace dealer and then each pattern would later be joined together to become a flounce or shawl. The dealers would then commission strips of a particular pattern and travel round collecting them and usually exploited the lace makers by supplying the thread and deducting the cost from the payment, which was generally only pennies.

It was supposedly Catherine of Aragon who introduced the craft of lacemaking to the area. Catherine, Henry VIII’s first wife, visited Buckingham in 1513, staying in Castle House. An Ivory crucifix, which is said to have belonged to her, can be seen in the Old Gaol Museum today.

Is there any Bucks Point lace left? Well, the Mayor of Buckingham wears a jabot which is made from fine Buckingham Lace and the Macebearer’s jabot is the same, although less fine. The Mayors Bear also dresses in Buckingham Lace too – How fancy!

Fun Fact Friday: Lark Rise to Candleford

Larkrise to Candleford is a famous novel that showcases how a young Flora Thompson grew up in the scenic Buckinghamshire countryside. Flora wrote poems and short stories for many years but it was not until 1945 that the Lark Rise trilogy was published. Before that, the stories were published separately as Lark Rise in 1939, Over to Candleford in 1941 and Candleford Green in 1943.

The stories relate to three communities: the hamlet of Juniper Hill (Lark Rise), where Flora grew up; Buckingham (Candleford), where Flora visited and the nearby village of Fringford (Candleford Green), where Flora got her first job in the Post Office.

Candleford is a combination of Banbury, Bicester and Buckingham. Throughout the book, Candleford is highlighted as a special and realistic type of place, showing how typical village life was like at the end of the 19th century. The stories are told in the third person by ‘Laura’, a version of the author’s childhood self who observes events directly, while the adult author is also present as a second narrator, commenting and reflecting on past events.

Due to Flora Thompson writing her account of previous events that happened nearly forty years after, she was able to identify the period as a pivotal point in rural history: the time when the quiet, close-knit and peaceful rural culture, governed by the seasons, began a transformation. This transformation saw the start of agricultural modernisation, better communications and urban growth which you can see in today’s society. This transformation is not explicitly described but it appears as a fable, for example in Laura’s first visit to Candleford without her parents: the journey from her tiny village to the sophisticated town, represented the worldly changes that would affect her whole community in the future. How do you think Buckingham would have appeared back then?

You can still very much feel Flora Thompson’s presence within these locations, Buckingham especially. One reason for this is because her uncle had owned a factory in Markham’s Court where she would make regular visits too. Another reason is because Buckingham’s Old Gaol Museum has an exhibition all about Flora Thompson’s life and works which was formally opened on 25th May 2007 to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of her death. It is the only permanent, viewable exhibition of Flora Thompson memorabilia in the world. The display has been augmented over the years with costumes and props from the BBC film production of “Lark Rise to Candleford” and many artefacts from the museum’s collections that illustrate the life and times of the local rural communities that Flora wrote about so eloquently in her books.