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1911 Pageant Report

Due to the effects of age I was unable to determine some words, I hope this doesn't distract from the report - Surrey Comet June 24th 1911

Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary

Rejoicings in Kingston and the Surrounding Districts

Processions, Sports and Illuminations

Jester (Reginald Edgoome), the Hobby Horse (Frank Whitebead), and Jack in the Green (Weston Pardy).  Next followed the Two Pages bearing the Queen’s crown and sceptre (Tom Finny and Vera Stowell), and behind them Friar Tuck (Athol Sloan).  Then came Robin Hood’s smart band of Merrie Men, in their green uniforms, with bows and arrows, caps in feathers all in keeping, their costumes having been designed and made for them by Mrs Finny.  As they marched they drew with ropes of flowers the beautifully decorated carriage in which was seated the May Queen (Miss Grace Berry), looking every inch a queen and very charming in her regal attire.  Her carriage being followed by Sergeant Wyatt and some of his pupils also dressed as Sherwood Foresters.  There were altogether some 220 children in this charming little procession.  Nothing but sunshine was lacking to give a perfect finish to it, but in the absence of this the spectacle was an altogether delightful one, and as the daintily clad lassies and lads passed between the ranks of the school children they elicited as they deserved the heartiest applause from the great crowd of spectators.

The Great Procession

Under the skilful guidance of the marshals of whom Mr V Knapp was chief, the great procession to Home Park was then got underway.  It was headed by Mr. F. J. Lee, who represented a Knight in chain armour. He was followed by a tableau car representing the granting of the first charter to Kingston by King John.  Mr. W. H. E. Brewster who made an ideal King, was seen seated upon his throne and handing the charter to the Bailiff of Kingston (Mr. H. Wagnor) who was kneeling before the King, on either side of whom were nobles in attendance upon his Majesty (Alderman G. T. Salmon and Alderman H. C. Minnitt, J.P.).   A second tableau car followed representing the crowning of King Edward the Elder at Kingston in 902.  Mr. J. O. Davis depicted King Edward the Elder seated on the Coronation stone, and Mr. Bloodley as Bishop of Winchester was with him on the car.  Immediately behind this car came a mounted procession of the six other Saxon Kings crowned at Kingston who were represented as followed: Athelstan (crowned in 924), Mr. G. Walter: Edmund (940) , Mr. G Curtis: Edred (946), Mr. T. Davis: Edwy (955), Mr. J. W. Whitecross: Edward the Martyr (975) Mr. H. Freeman:  Ethelred the Unready (979), Mr. R. A. Houghton.  These monarchs were accompanied by a body of nobles and attendants on foot, impersonated by Messrs. H. Sanders, B. Pruner, J.  Styles, W. Read, T. Baxter, W. G. Huckle, H. B. Huckle, H. E. Turner, A. D. Newson, R. H. Benson, K. Warren. Jun., and H. Lowe.  The tableauxs and the parade of Saxon kings and notabilities made an extremely effective show, the make-up in every case being admirable.

Five decorated wagons drawn by gaily caparisoned horses lent by the Corporation came next in order, containing many of the children for the special pageant.  Then followed the band of the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the East Surrey Regiment, which preceded the May Queen and her retinue, the bright scarlet uniforms of the soldiers, the vivid green of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, and the dainty dresses of the Queen and her maidens making this part of the procession particularly attractive. An escort of the 9th (Kingston) and the 10th (Kingston Hill) companies of the Thames Valley Battalion of the Boys Brigade was followed by the first section of the school children, about 1,509 strong, marching four abreast and lead by All Saints.  Then came an escort of Kingston Companies of the Church Lads Brigade and the Band of the 6th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment headed the second section of school children.  The third section of the children was preceded by the band of St Pauls Company of the Church Lads Brigade and the final section marched to the ……. Of the ?th West London Company of the Boys Brigade, the members of the Corporation in carriages and an ambulance corps of the Kingston troupe of the Boys Brigade bringing up the rear.  

A Well-Organised Pageant

There can be no question that the procession was one of the very best ?????? in the ????? ?????.   It was well thought out; the streets gave no trouble either to the marshals or the police.  The procession must have been over a mile in length, as the first part of it had entered Home Park some time before the last ranks left the Fairfield.  There was no crowding or confusion of any kind, and exactly twenty-five minutes was occupied by the procession in passing a point at which it was times.

Ceremonial March

On entering Home Park the children were marched straight to the spot selected for the pageant for which for some months previously Dr. Finny has been busy making preparations.  An enclosure measuring about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide had been roped off, and around this the infants who had been sent on in advance had been arranged in advance were arranged in the front row, with the elder children behind them.  Within another enclosure were a number of chairs for visitors, this being in the hands of Councillor Hall.  A flourish of trumpets heralded the commencement of the programme with a Grand Ceremonial March to the music of the East Surrey Regiment.  Three Maypoles with their many coloured ribbons were standing down the middle of the enclosure, and on the far side was a platform on which stood the May Queen’s throne.  As the dancers marched on to the enclosure they took up positions previously allocated to them on either side of the Maypoles.  Then came King John, King Edward the Elder, and the other Saxon Kings, with the nobles and attendants, who too up positions on the right and left of the May Queen’s throne.  Next appeared Britannia and her Colonies; then the march gave place to the music of “Come Lasses and Lads,” as the Maids of Honour, in dainty dresses and carrying garlanded hoops with joyous steps came dancing across the enclosure.  After a short pause the May Queen was drawn in her carriage by the Merrie Men, and gallantly handed to her throne by her brave Robin Hood, who took up his place beside her on the platform accompanied by his captain of forces, Little John, with grave Friar Tuck, the Jester and the two pages.  As the Queen seated herself on her throne the Maids of Honour and the Merrie Men engaged in a bright Coronation country dance before here in which the smart uniforms of the men mingled with the soft dresses of the maids producing a most charming effect.

Crowning the May Queen

Then followed the Crowning of the May Queen by Friar Tuck, who having passed down the assembly bowed low to the Queen as he approached, and with much dignity took the crown from the cushion on which it had been borne by both pages and raising well above the May Queen, the whole assembly kneeling the while, placed it on her head.  Then with another bow he took the sceptre and placed it in her hand, and gracefully retired, while the Pages amid a loud flourish of trumpets and cheering, stepped forward and kissed the Queen’s extended hand.  The next item was a charming little ceremonial dance and presentation of flowers by the children of St John’s School, during which all the children joined in singing very sweetly, “Hail, lovely Queen.”  After this came a pretty old-world country dance, which was well received.  The May pole dances followed, in which three different classed engaged, all dancing different figures, but to the same music.  The Maids of Honour took the centre May pole, the St. John’s girls the May pole on the right of the May Queen, and the boys of St. Paul’s with the girls of St. John’s taking the third May pole.  Very cleverly they all performed capturing the attention and applause of the crowd as they deftly dipped in and out, twining and untwining the May poles.  The trumpets sounded again and the Morris Dancers, sixty four in number, took possession of the field.  Their exquisite dancing was accompanied by the jingle of the bells on their garments, and was a sight to be remembered, receiving prolonged applause. 

Old English Sports

Then followed some old English sports including boxers who marched out and bowed to the Queen, and took their place at the side of the field and at the same time the fighting cocks marched out, accompanied and presented in each case by three children dressed in the costumes of the countries they represented, and produced a very fine effect, which the band struck up “Rule Britannia,” in which the whole company joined the whole pageant was delightful, and was highly creditable to all concerned in it, especially to Dr. Finny who had bestowed such infinite pains in its preparation and who, attired in the costume of an ancient beedle, acted as master of the revels.

Tea and Games

Immediately at the close of the children’s pageant the bugles sounded the “fall in” for the tea, and it was at this point of the proceedings that the chief difficulty of the organisers was experienced.  The immense crowd of adult spectators, may of whom had “rushed” the seats reserved for ticket-holders at the pageant, now hampered the schools in rallying to their different colours, that there was considerable delay in assembling the children at the tea rendezvous, and many of the little ones were found wondering aimlessly about.  It was nearly five o’clock before a start could be made with the meal, and this unfortunate loss of time threw the proceedings – which up to this point had bean carried up well up to scheduled time – somewhat out of gear.  However the schools eventually found their places, and Messrs. Bentall, the contractors, served a tea of excellent quality.  The task of catering for such a huge gathering was of course a very responsible one, and everything that human foresight could suggest was done to ensure the smooth and successful  carrying out of the work.  To facilitate the distribution of the food the caterers …. Paper bags each containing two slices of bread and butter and two pieces of cake.  The tea was supplied in large churns.  The quality of the provisions was excellent, and if there was any slight hitch in the work of distribution that was solely due to the magnitude of the tea party, for the serving of which all possible provision has previously been made.  In fact the plan of catering was wonderful in its conception and organisation.  When the children had finished their tea, the helpers, to the number of 700, were served with a very satisfactory meal, but is was rather late before some of them were able to find accommodation in the marquee.  The truth is that the programme for the Home Park was rather overloaded, and the time at disposal was insufficient to enable every item to receive full justice.  But taken as a whole, it must be admitted that the children’s fete was a brilliant success, and the occasion was one that will not be likely to fade from their memories.  After the tea about an hour remained for games, which were heartily indulged in, and then the work of getting the children out of the park was proceeded with.  Trams were in waiting for the tired infants, and the older children were marched up to the gates, and soon after 8 o’clock the fete was over.

The Mayor (Aldeman G. Huckle, J.P.) arrived by motor from Westminster in time to witness the tea, and his Worship went round to each section and was loudly cheered by the children.  Mr Henry Shepherd, with characteristic kindness, sent over to the park some 3,000 bunches of flowers, which were distributed amongst the delighted children as they were enjoying their tea.

An astonishing and most gratifying feature of the proceedings was that there was a complete immunity from accident.  Considering the difficulties attendant upon the proceedings and the vast multitude lining the streets and thronging into the park it would not have been surprising if there were not more personal injuries maintained, but as far as far as we have been able to discern not a single mishap to man, woman or child has to be recorded.

A Word of Acknowledgement

Any report of the Kingston festivities would be incomplete which did not include a word of praise for those who worked so hard to ensure that the success that was achieved.  To mention any considerable number of the workers by name would be invidious and they would be the  ???