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FLEET AND CROOKHAM CORONATION CELEBRATIONS
Today marks the coronation of King Charles III and as the people of Fleet celebrate and enjoy the long weekend, we take a look back at how the town commemorated previous coronations and how it has changed throughout the years.
1902 CORONATION – EDWARD VII
Albert Edward was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He was born at Buckingham Palace on 9th November 1841.
He was crowned Edward VII and reigned from 22nd January 1901 – 6th May 1910.
He died aged 68 on 6th May 1910.
Below: Miss White with her bicycle decorated for the coronation of Edward VII. Credit: Percy Vickery.
The date of Edward VII’s coronation was originally planned for 26th June 1902. The articles below show plans being made for the celebrations from May 31st as they record how Fleet and Crookham had meetings to arrange the day with various activities, although the tone does seem a little unenthusiastic compared to modern day preparations.
Plans were to change though, as just a few days before his coronation date, the King fell ill with appendicitis and was told that unless he had an operation immediately, he would die. Finally relenting, the operation went ahead and a new coronation date was arranged for the 9th August 1902.
Being so early there aren’t many known photographs of this event but this one taken outside the front door of Grove Farmhouse at Grove Farm in Church Crookham, shows Miss White daughter of Farmer White, with a cycle decorated with flowers and “E.R.” for the special event.
Below: Newspaper articles from the day show the planning of the coronation events in May 1902.
1911 CORONATION – GEORGE V
George Frederick Ernest Albert was the second son of Edward VII. He was born on June 3rd 1865 and became heir to the throne after the unexpected death of his older brother.
He was crowned George V and reigned from 6th May 1910 – 20th January 1936.
He died aged 70 on 20th January 1936.
Below: King George V coronation medal from the Hampshire Friendly Society.
Much like today, the coronation of King George V was celebrated under grey rainy skies as the day commenced with church services. This was followed by a procession including the Hampshire Friendly Society (who commissioned a medal for the event), Urban District councillors, local fireman and residents as they assembled in Albert Street and made their way to the meadow at Woodlands via Fleet Road and Reading Road, accompanied by the Wesleyan Mission Band.
Local shops were decorated with bunting and the royal monogram while many private homes along the route also sported patriotic adornments. At the end of the procession there was an open air service conducted by the vicar with the raising of the Union Jack and the singing of the National Anthem.
The days events were completed with a children’s tea in Pinewood Hall (possibly soon to be demolished) that saw almost 700 children catered for, an “over 65’s” tea, various sporting events and a children’s fancy dress parade that was won by Miss Betty Prideaux who was dressed in 17th century costume.
Elvetham Hall was also to commemorate the event and on June 22nd, held their own celebrations that included sports and entertainments in Calthorpe Park with local schools raising the national flag and singing “God Save the King”. The boys and girls of Elvetham were presented with coronation mugs and badges while the men were given tobacco.
Children’s and men’s sports were followed later in the evening with dancing to a live string band that had travelled from London to be there. A firework display concluded the events.
Below: Newspaper articles from the day show events celebrated in Fleet and Elvetham.
1937 CORONATION – GEORGE VI
Albert Frederick Arthur George (known as Bertie to his friends) inherited the throne after the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII who reigned for just 325 days (his coronation was abandoned and so was never celebrated).
King George was known for being a reluctant King who was quite shy and had a stutter.
He was crowned George VI and reigned from 11th December 1936 until his death in 1952.
Below: Davies & Son’s garage in Crookham Road decorated for the 1937 coronation. Credit: Percy Vickery.
The coronation of King George VI was, like previous events, celebrated with both children’s and adult’s sporting events in The Views Meadow, followed by a children’s tea during which souvenir mugs and flags were given out. A comic football match was played by Fleet Football Club and a floodlit tattoo was also organised.
The day’s events were completed with a carnival and dance, with a further carnival being held in Crookham that included children’s sports, tea and a bonfire.
Fleet Road was also decorated for the event with sand-filled 30 gallon barrels supporting scaffolding pole flags along the pavements. Everyone was given a day off as children marched to The Views for the day’s events and then marched back to Fleet Hall when they were over.
The images below show the 1937 decorations in Fleet Road and a more modern shot of the same scene today so you can see exactly where it is. A note of interest is the building shown on the top left hand side which although currently still standing (just about), is the subject of some debate over prospective planning issues…and has been for a number of years.
Below: A scene from Fleet Road showing the 1937 coronation decorations – and the same scene today for the 2023 coronation.
1953 CORONATION – ELIZABETH II
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was born on April 21st 1926 and was crowned aged 25 after the death of her father.
She was crowned Elizabeth II and reigned from 6th February 1952 until her death on 8th September 2022.
Queen Elizabeth II was the longest reigning monarch in British history.
Unsurprisingly the events marking Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne were bigger and better than earlier coronations and with press and media coverage much improved by this time, events were more accessible to public view. The celebratory events ran from 30th May and were finalised by a grand carnival procession on the 10th June 1953.
In Fleet the streets were decorated with flags and bunting and there were 12 days of special events, including a parade, church services, sporting events, a swimming gala and a regatta. At The Views, there was dancing on the grass, a horticultural show, a fair and a crowning of the carnival Queen and King. But it didn’t end there as a Coronation Ball , “old folk’s tea” and a motorcycle show was laid on followed by two carnival processions. The Carnival Queen’s procession started in Crookham and the Carnival King’s procession started from the Fleet Train Station. They met at The Oat Sheaf public house and toured the district together, finally arriving at The Views where there was a live band and singing.
Here you can see some of the floats in the parade including one marking England’s cricket team’s win, as they won the Ashes for the first time since the Second World War.
Below: The coronation parade in Fleet. Credit: (photo 1) Simon Paul Fenwick, (photos 2-4) Janice Hayes.
In Crookham Village they held a special coronation fancy dress parade as part of the celebrations. The children walked down the street to collect their prizes and have a picnic. First prize went to “The Queen’s Coach”, with second prize going to “the young Elizabeth”.
Below: Crookham coronation fancy dress parade 1953. Credit: Percy Vickery.
As expected, the media was packed full of articles referring to the coronation, sharing plans and positivity with the nation after the prolonged and dark years of the war. In fact the event was so popular that it brought about a surge in sales of television sets and thousands of people were able to see the ceremony without leaving their armchairs…albeit in black and white.
Fleet proved to be no exception when it came to coronation fever and local newspaper articles recorded such events as a beer drinking contest, the ugliest face event and a shapeliest calves contest (imagine trying to do that nowadays!) arranged by the Coronation Committee headed by A. S. Oakley of Oakley Stores. Take a look below at a selection of the news snippets from our area:
Here you can see the original 1953 souvenir programme of events for the local coronation celebrations. Just swipe or click through the images to view each page. The programme comes courtesy of the late great Percy Vickery the famous Fleet historian.
And to finish the section on the most documented coronation in Fleet (so far), here are some local photographs including the Westover Road street parties with bunting hung up and tables laden with party food.
Below: Local celebrations in Fleet. Swipe through, or click on images to view information and credits.
2023 CORONATION – CHARLES III
Charles Philip Arthur George was born on 14th November 1948 and became King upon the death of his mother in September 2022.
He was crowned Charles III on 6th May 2023.
He is our current monarch.
And that all brings us back to today , which marked the coronation of King Charles III. Local events to celebrate the coronation have been planned for tomorrow when the weather is hopefully a little nicer. You can see more about the planned events for the weekend here.
It is perhaps a sign of the times that royal events aren’t treated with the reverence and excitement that they once used to inspire. Local decorations aren’t as lavish as they once were with a nation split over the monarchy as well as the funds used to provide any celebrations for the event. It also comes only a year after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and two months before the town’s annual carnival so understandably the occasion is a little different than it once was.
Below: Fleet coronation decorations 2023. Swipe through, or click on images to view information.
The street decorations certainly don’t seem to compare to past events, although with some street parties planned and tomorrow’s events still to come, there’s still time to have some fun, despite the rather dismal British weather!
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