Celebrating the Jubilee … in 1809!

Verses for the Jubilee in 1809 (Berkshire Record Office)

To mark 60 years of the Queen’s reign, 2012 is the year of the Diamond Jubilee! There will be hundreds of thousands of parties and festivals, picnics, music and feasting across Britain and the Commonwealth (Nations and Realms). The Central Weekend is this coming weekend; the 2nd – 5th June, and I’m sure to be seeking out plenty of alcoholic beverages, cakes and roast dinners!

Although the notion of a Jubilee originates from the Bible (Isaiah and Leviticus), the first British monarch to celebrate their jubilee in a way we would recognise today was undoubtedly George III in 1809, marking the beginning of 50 years as reigning monarch – his Golden Jubilee. An Account of the Celebration of the Jubilee, on 25th October, 1809… Collected and Published by a Lady (1809), was a publication which brought together most of the recorded celebrations around Britain at the time. Many of these took place on privately owned land and country estates. As the 2012 celebrations  are set to be a concoction of hearty drinking, big parties, fireworks, charity events and the traditional lighting of the beacons, those in 1809 were not so dissimilar …

Harewood House, Yorkshire, by J. M. W. Turner, 1798 (Tate Galleries).

Harewood House, Yorkshire. Flags were hoisted on the Church and at the Great Lodge at the entrance of the Park; and the day was ushered in with the ringing of the bells. The tenantry of Lord Harewood, about 500 in number, assembled at the Church, and after divine service, marched in procession, attended by a band of music, to the hospitable mansion of his Lordship, and sung ‘God Save the King’ on the lawn. As many as conveniently could dine in the house, remained; a such as could not, went to the Inns at Harewood, which were thrown open for the day, to all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. At two o’ clock dinner was announced, when Lord Harewood took the head of the table in the great room, which formed three sides of a square, and at which sat 190 guests. Different tenants presided at the other tables. During the whole of dinner a full band of music played select airs. The toasts were appropriate for the occasion. At eight o’ clock there was a large bonfire, and a beautiful display of fireworks. At nine, two rooms were thrown open for dancing, which was continued with great spirit till one. Supper was then served up in the gallery: the decoration of the rooms and the tables did infinite credit to the manager (transparencies, one of them an excellent likeness of the King) and devices of flowers in different compartments, had a most beautiful effect. At three, dancing was resumed, and continued with great spirit till six, and about eight, all guests had taken their departure, deeply impressed with the splendid hospitality, the amiable condescension, and the disinterested patriotism, of the noble house of Harewood.

Shirburn Castle,Watlington, Oxfordshire (Country Life, c.1900)

Sherborne Castle [now spelt Shirburn], Oxfordshire. The Jubilee was celebrated with great splendor at Sherbourne Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Macclesfield. In the morning all the poor of that parish, and of Stoke and Clare, together with all the workmen employed by his Lordship, received 2lb of beef for every person in their family; and after divine service, a proportionate quantity of small beer. In the evening there was a numerous assemblage of all the neighbouring families for a ball, when the front of the castle was illuminated with G. R. Fifty Years, in large letters of lamps. At one o’clock the company sat down to a magnificent supper; after which the dance was resumed, and kept up till a late hour in the morning.

Tottenham House, Wiltshire (engraving after J. P. Neale) 1829.

Tottenham Park, Wiltshire. The Earl of Aylesbury displayed the purest feelings of genuine loyalty, by his liberal donations to his Majesty’s least opulent subjects through his Lordship’s extensive manors. Upwards of 5300 people were sharers in his munificence. The numerous peasantry in his more immediate neighbourhood were feasted on the lawn, with a plentiful supply of roast beef, plum-pudding, and strong beer. The Marlborough Troop of Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry, commanded by Lord Bruce fired a feu de joie on the occasion, and were afterwards regaled with a sumptuous dinner, and enjoyed themselves with their Noble Commander to a late hour.

Plas Newydd, Isle of Anglesey (copyright TADDFAS)

PlasNewydd, Isle of Angelsey, Wales. The Jubilee was celebrated at PlasNewydd, the Seat of the Earl and Countess of Uxbridge, by a distribution of beef, cheese, oatmeal, and strong beer to the poor families, consisting of upwards of 700 individuals, of the parishes of Llandaniel, Llanfair, and Llandisilio. A plentiful dinner was likewise given at the mansion, to his Lordship’s workmen, labourers, and their families. In the evening, there was a magnificent display of fireworks, and it may be added that the well-known loyalty and attachment of the noble owners of the place to his Majesty, was most gratefully seconded on this happy occasion by their numerous dependants.

Henblas, Isle of Angelsey, Wales. The Jubilee was celebrated with utmost loyalty and hilarity, at the hospitable mansion of Hugh Evans, Esq. A sumptuous dinner was given to a numerous circle of his friends; after which, appropriate toasts were drank, each breathing the purest attachment to their Sovereign and Country. At the same time, his neighbouring tenantry, labourers, and their families, to the number of about 150, were regaled with beef, plum-pudding, and unlimited libations of cwrw da [good beer]. The whole was conducted with the utmost good humour, highly creditable to the worthy donor, who is always forward to evince his unshaken adherence to the best of Kings.

Links:

Jane Austen devotee with a great piece on George III’s Golden Jubilee here. This has extra links and references for those of you interested reading more http://austenonly.com/2012/05/30/george-iiis-golden-jubilee/

Queen Elizabeth II – Jubilees http://www.royal.gov.uk/HMTheQueen/TheQueenandspecialanniversaries/Overview.aspx

Understanding accession and coronation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_the_British_monarch and http://www.2012queensdiamondjubilee.com/coronation

What is a Jubilee? 2002 … http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/apr/26/jubilee.monarchy

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4 Comments

Filed under Food and Dining, Parks and Gardens, Recommended Literature

4 responses to “Celebrating the Jubilee … in 1809!

  1. What an interesting take on the Jubilee, thank you for sharing it!

  2. Margaret Powling

    I have come to your blog via The Country Seat blog, and that via another blog! I, too, am interested in architecture and country houses so will be looking in again, reguarly, I hope.

    • Very good to ‘meet’ you Margaret! The hope is at some point to have a network of the blogs dedicated to country houses, or some way of highlighting them as a whole. I’m glad you like this one though! I love country houses and have done since I was very small, so it’s fantastic to share knowledge about them with others who have a similar interest.

  3. Margaret Powling

    What a good iea – a network of blogs dedicated to country houses. Like you, I’ve always enjoyed visiting country houses and seeing their various collections. I have a piece on an online magazine this month, Savista magazine for the over 50s, and that is about Snowshill Manor and A la Ronde, both of which have interesting collections.

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