Memories of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation

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16 thoughts on “Memories of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation

  1. Location Othery, Somerset

    My first recollection, on the day of the Coronation, was hearing on the News that Hillary and Tenzing had conquered Everest.

    We all went to the Village Hall? and watched the Coronation crowded round a small television on a gym horse – it seemed to last for ever and at some stage for a reason that is still unclear to me the camera was not allowed to film the Queen (when the lords were pledging their allegiance?).

    I think there was a Sports Day in the afternoon – I was never very good at sports but we all came away with a Coronation Mug which eventual got lost or broken.

    In the evening we had a film show in the Village Hall – it was a rather harrowing (to my young mind) “How Green was my Valley” with Welsh Miners trapped underground, I think. This was probably the first film that I had ever seen. My father was working the projector and half way through the film the projector bulb burnt out and so I went with my father in a car to find another – where from I do not know, but when we got back to the hall a number of fights had broken out – it was bedlam – fortunately my father was a teacher at the local Secondary Modern, so he soon had the audience back under control and the film finished with no further incident (but I do not remember how!). I went to bed very tired and happy.

    For ages after I had a cardboard cut out of the Coronation procession with the State Coach with all the outriders and some of the Household Cavalry, which I used to assemble and play with.

    Some weeks later we saw a film of the Coronation in glorious Technicolor – it was very colourful and somewhat briefer than the real event on television.

    Robin Dean

  2. Location : Derbyshire.

    I remember my parents being excited about Hillary and Tensing reaching the summit of Mount Everest, and also of their excitement at the Coronation being broadcast on television for the first time ever that day.

    We did not have a television – my mother had opted for other luxuries in our house. (We had a very modern washing machine and a refrigerator.) However, my parents’ best friends had a television and we were invited to go to their house and watch the Coronation there.

    When we arrived, there were lots of people already in the sitting room, occupying all the chairs from that room and all the dining chairs. I had to sit on the floor. The television was quite small and the black and white picture was not very clear. I particularly remember the choir’s rendition of Vivat Regina, which they seemed to sing extremely loudly, and it rang in my ears for quite a long time afterwards. I was also impressed with the sceptre and the orb, although they did look rather heavy. There were whispers from the grown ups as the Coronation proceeded. They all thought our Queen looked lovely, so young, and so composed. They all proclaimed that she had done very well (although I do not suppose they had any idea what she should have done!). There was such a feeling of warmth towards the Royals at that time, and we all loved the pomp and ceremony.

    My mother’s friend brought round sandwiches and cups of tea and we sat for what seemed like forever watching this flickering pageant.

    Eventually, it finished, and we all went home. There were no street parties on our road, but everyone talked about it over the next few days. The newspapers had many souvenir photographs in their pages, and my mother bought me a glossy magazine with many pictures of the Royal Family in it. Although I liked that very much, she had also recently bought me a magazine about Brumas the bear raised at Regent’s Park Zoo, London and I preferred that!

    I believe at school we were all given a coronation mug to remember the event. I have no idea what happened to that. I seem to remember it had two handles and I probably thought it was far too babyish for me. I only needed one handle now.

  3. Location: Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire

    Disappointment is not something you will often encounter when reading about the Coronation celebrations but as a three year old living in Stanford Bridge I certainly felt cheated.

    As many people as possible were to watch the Coronation on the local postman’s television at the Glen. This to my knowledge was one of very few televisions in the village and so there was much excitement and vying for prime seats for the event.

    As a small child I was allowed to sit on the floor right at the front. I seem to remember wearing my Sunday best and feeling very ‘dressed up’ for the occasion. Indeed it was an opportunity for many a smart outfit and my memory is of men in suits and ladies all wearing their finery including best hats pinned firmly to their hair despite the indoor venue.

    My sister was then only a few weeks old. Her voice being somewhat louder than the commentators required my poor mother to be transposed from the front row of ‘the stalls’ to the kitchen doorway in an effort to restore calm into the newborn of our family. Older members of the audience required the volume turned up (not always my sister’s fault) and the younger ones turned down! This resulted in the wireless being turned on and tuned in to complement the television production. Full sound around systems had accidentally hit Stanford in the early 50s well before Sony had even thought about it!

    The picture would roll from time to time and someone would then have to walk around with the aerial until it returned. This sounds simple enough but the aerial was a huge H shape and needed manipulating through windows and doors to achieve a viewable picture.

    Tea and beer were passed around as were cake and scones. The highlight of the event for me was raspberry pop! Everyone seemed very happy and excited despite the cold grey day.

    So why the disappointment. Well Mr Brown, the post man, had very kindly let my mother take me to watch Children’s Hour on this rather grand television on several occasions leading up to the Coronation while he was out and about on his postal round. What was coming out of the square box in front of me now was most certainly NOT Andy Pandy or Bill and Ben and I had definitely been cheated into dressing up for what I felt, despite the pop, was rather a strange event !

  4. Memories of the Coronation.
    Location Opposite Buckingham Palace
    Joan Parker Aged 16
    I was one of three Girl Guides from Worcestershire who went to London for the Coronation. We went to a big Camp at East Grinstead comprising of Guides from all over the World, the day before the coronation we went into London and stayed in a big school hall (I think). On the morning of the coronation early we made our way to a spot right opposite the palace also hearing the news that Everest had been conquered.My main memories of the day was the rain which didn’t bother us and never seemed to bother the Queen of Tonga as she was the only one who rode in an open carriage. I also remember thinking how lucky I was to be able to witness this occasion

  5. Location – Menith Wood, Worcestershire

    My family were the first to have a TV set on Menith Wood, bought by my brother. It came in February – the first thing I saw on TV was Harry Corbett and Sooty.

    I remember Coronation Day as damp and dull. Our living room seemed to be crowded out with neighbours all anxious to see the events in London. It was a small black and white set. It all seemed so wonderful – to see it as it was really happening in London.

    I remember the Queen from abroad in her open carriage – in the rain smiling, waving. What a happy day – in spite of the rain! There were some girls from nearby us in Menith Wood who went too, showing off their red, white and blue dresses – made by their mother.

    I do not remember any parties but there must have been some around – maybe in the two pubs – had more on Menith Wood then, Cross Keys and Bird in Hand.

    I had been to London on the Sunday before on a coach trip – lots of shop windows, all boarded up on the route taken by the Queen in her coach, in case of damage from the crowds. We had someone with us who knew London so we were taken here and there in London (on the underground too). So much bunting everywhere – all up little streets. I expect they would have tables out on The Day for a party for the little children. We went to Westminster Abbey – but could only go in the cloisters – the rest closed off for security.

    I remember taking a photo of the Queens’ Beasts outside the Abbey – ugly things.

    We had better weather on the Sunday than on the Coronation Day itself. We watched some soldiers marching (THINK?) in St James’ Park. All in all, lovely memories.

  6. Location: Opposite the front Entrance of Westminster Abbey

    I was 12 years old at the time and my father came home about a week before the BIG day to tell us that he had won 3 tickets for seats opposite Westminster Abbey for the Coronation. I was more than just excited as I had never been to London before.

    We set off the day before as Dad had found a Pub with accommodation for the 3 of us in Hampstead. We arrived , and again I think it was the first time I had been into a proper pub. The Landlord was a Cockney and I had no idea what he was talking about, as I recall a lot of it was in rhyming slang!

    The evening meal was grim and we had to eat in a cold back room as I was underage to be in the bar , despite the fact that I was taller than either of my parents!!

    We had to get up at 4am to ensure we were seated before 6am when the roads would be closed. It was a VERY long day but full of excitement as you worked out whose coach and horses were pulling up outside The Abbey. One I do remember well, was the King of Tonga…..he was HUGE and I thought that it might tip over as he exited!

    After the ceremony, we had to stay seated for some hours before we were allowed back onto the streets. we made our way back to Hampstead having to walk most of the way as there were few buses running and very few Taxi, and most of those were already full. That evening , I was encouraged to stay awake to watch the firework display which was very visible from Hampstead Heath.

    I think that I then slept for 12 hours!!!!!

  7. Location Stourport on Severn, Worcestershire

    My thoughts of the coronation disturb an avalanche of irrational nostalgic memories of aspiration and ambition – I was a teenager!

    At the age of thirteen and living on the newly built Walshes estate in Stourport I was a newspaper boy and therefore a regular reader of the back and front pages of the tabloids (when I had finished with the Beano and the Dandy). One day the normally black and white papers were printed with vivid colour. The edges of the papers had purple borders as a sign of mourning for Royalty. They announced the unexpected death of King George the sixth. “The King is dead. Long live the Queen”.

    The coronation came a year later and was greeted with enthusiasm in our local community. Flags were hoisted and bunting was draped from windows. My brother and I went overboard with our first venture into DIY. We made a large wooden emblem E II R with lights embedded in it. To the amazement of everyone it actually lit up but how we avoided electrocuting the onlookers or blowing up the nearby transformer is an enduring mystery.

    We were invited to watch the coronation on TV by our next door neighbours who were rare owners of a 12 inch screen Cossor. It was not the first time that we had seen television . That occasion came a few weeks earlier when Areley Kings newsagent Stan Kench welcomed us to watch the famous Mathews FA Cup final when Blackpool beat Bolton 4-3, thanks to a brilliant display by Stanley Mathews and a hat trick by Stan Mortenson. It was said that Mathews could cross the ball so that the bulging stitch line was facing goal wards enabling Mortensen (or Nat Lofthouse for England) to head a goal without bruising his forehead.

    We had trouble mastering that skill but we did play football on coronation day during intervals from TV watching. Our pitch was a stretch of grass outside our house which was to be used later for a street party. And some party that was. Bottles of pop (dandelion and burdock for the lucky ones ) and an abundance of cakes and sweets were still quite a novelty. Only a couple of years earlier we had to queue outside the shop on the first day of each month when the ration coupons became valid if we wanted to satisfy our chocolate habit.

    But now we were free! Our country was fast recovering from the blemishes of war. We were building 300,000 houses each year and here was a beautiful young Queen set to inspire our nation and Commonwealth. We were looking to the future.

    Watching the Queen being crowned was a moving and momentous occasion even for us children. The TV commentators were concerned that the golden weight of the crown might be too much for the fragile looking Queen but they were underestimating her strength and determination. Under the scrutiny of the world’s most powerful and influential leaders She was not inclined to show any signs of weakness. This slight and pretty Queen bore the weighty crown with the sombre dignity that was to become the hallmark of her reign. Her calm nobility graced the perfect pageantry of the day drawing admiration and tears from the watching throng. She was magnificent.

    Long live the Queen. God save our Queen.

  8. Location: Macclesfield, Cheshire

    I was 12 years old. I lived in Macclesfield,Cheshire and I had just passed my exams to go to Macclesfield High School for Girls. I had been given the best present ever which was a Raleigh Bicycle in British Racing Green.

    There was great excitement in our house, we had a brand new 12 inch “Bush” television and it was sat on the sideboard and looked very strange. I didn’t know then that my Father had been working double shifts to be able to buy this for us.

    My Mum had been baking for days and all our Grand parents had arrived for our celebrations.

    I remember that there was bunting strung from house to house and everybody had their best clothes on.

    My Mother had placed every chair in rows,just like at the pictures,and then she drew the curtains and we all sat down to watch our new T.V, in black and white and tiny by modern standards.

    I remember seeing the Coronation Coach and the Queen waving regally at the crowds that packed the streets of London, lots of Union Jack flags flying in the wind and everyone looking so happy. I think it was Richard Dimbleby and a lady called Sylvia Peters doing the commentary. They were both in full evening dress.

    During this time we had lots to eat and I remember the austerity of rationing after the war, but there was no sign of that on this day.

  9. Location: Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire

    I lived on a farm and we didn’t have a television. We didn’t even have electricity and the only way we heard the news was through reading the newspapers or when my mother listened to her battery radio. The nearest person to us who had a television was an aunty who lived in Worcester, three-quarters of an hour’s drive away, so on the morning of the Coronation we drove over to my aunty’s.

    Of course the television was in black and white – and in those days the only television station was the BBC. I was a young boy and found it rather boring.

    After that we drove back home and there were some parish functions in the field near our home and Stanford Court. There were children’s games and sack races, and other sorts of races. Mr and Mrs Stanway organised all this for the children and worked very hard for this. Each child was given a toy to take home. I had a toy aeroplane. My brother had another toy and he was very upset because it got broken by his cousin before we got home.

    In those days there was not a Village Hall, so there was no tea and we just walked home. It had been wet in the morning and it was very cold and damp in the afternoon.

    We had all decorated our homes but there was no competition and we all just did what we liked.

    I realise now that it was the first time that I had ever watched a television.

  10. My Father was a great story teller and brought history alive. When the old King died in February 1952 he told me that when they announced the death of a Monarch they said “ the King is dead long live the King (or Queen)” I thought this very strange. He then told me that the old King would lie in state and then be buried with all his ancestors at Windsor Castle after his funeral and then the Coronation would take place, but as there was a great deal of preparation it would not take place until the next year. He said he would take us to Winsor Castle to see all the flowers that had been sent for the funeral. His Uncle was a chorister at St George’s Chapel and lived in the cloisters opposite the Chapel. So Daddy phoned his Uncle and asked if we could come and stay. This was a great treat for me as I loved to be driven through the old arched way into the Castle to the lovely old house in the middle of cloisters where the warm cosy kitchen was in the basement. The next day we went to see all the wreaths which had been placed on a round lawn so people could walk all the way round. It was covered by many beautiful flowers with the names of Kings, Princes, Dukes and our own Royal Family. I was only little but greatly impressed.

    That year I was very keen to learn all I could about the Coronation. The day before we went to a friend’s house and watched on TV the scene of all the people taking their places on the Route to Westminster Abbey and the preparations going on at the Royal Mews. We did not have a TV, so I was very upset, so Daddy took me into town where we watched it in the window of a shop. Although it was June it was a very cold day with a dull sky and I think it was raining.

    In the evening we went to the Park where they were roasting an Ox and we all had an Ox sandwich. The weather was much better and we were able to go round the fair which I very much enjoyed in those days. I was a bit disappointed I did not win a cuddle toy, but enjoyed the fireworks that came later.

    Great Uncle Ron actually went to the Coronation because he was singing in the choir in the gallery above the Throne and had the best view. When I saw him next I wanted to know all about it. All I can remember he said about it was just before the Queen’s procession a bunch of “misses mops”, with their scarves tied round their heads with the knot at the top, came with their brushes and swept the carpet before the Queen entered.

  11. Location Orleton, Near Leominster, Herefordshire

    I was 27 years old and had been married about 18 months. I do not remember hearing the Coronation. We did not have electricity and we did not know anyone with a television.

    The celebrations in the village were in the afternoon starting with a Beautiful Baby competition. Margaret, my wife, had entered our 9 month old baby, Ann in the competition. This was judged by a gentleman, Captain King King. When he came to Ann’s pram, she was sound asleep and he said “What a lovely doll”. Margaret was a bit upset!

    After that we had all the traditional sports day events without health and safety concerns including a tug of war, a sack race, a three legged race and a wheelbarrow race. I can not remember whether I won anything. I think that the sports were organised by Mrs Price, who was head of the local school.

    Once this was over, there was tea and egg sandwiches in the Village Hall (with a tin roof), followed by jelly. The Village Hall was decked out in red, white and blue bunting and balloons. This was a treat but not as much as it would have been for town dwellers, as farmers we were not as affected by rationing which had recently stopped.

    I do not remember what happened in the evening.

  12. Location Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire

    I was about 27 years old and was married with two daughters. Meg, my wife took my two daughters (Sue and Margaret) to see the coronation on Jim Brown’s television. Sue describes this elsewhere in this blog. I did not go with them.

    We decorated our houses and our vehicles (bikes, prams and cars). I remember that we had a sports day in the afternoon on the field between Stanford Court and Home Farm. This had races for children and a few adult games including a Tug of War and an obstacle course. I remember that John Tillman, Jeff Field and myself were racing through a hen house. When we were half way through it, it collapsed. I do not think anyone was hurt!

    After all the excitement, we had tea with sandwiches and jelly in the Village Hall. Rationing had just finished so meals were more exciting.

    In those days, we knew everyone in the village and all their business. Today in villages, we may never see some of our neighbours.

  13. Location The Mall, London and Sutton Coldfield

    In common with institutions up and down the land, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales, of which my father was a member, received an allocation of seats for the Coronation. These were distributed on the basis of a ballot and my father was obviously delighted when his name was drawn out of the hat and he was allocated two seats.

    My parents duly set off for London on the day preceding the Coronation, leaving my brother and me in the care of our usual babysitter. They had received instructions that they must take up their seats in The Mall by 7.00am and duly arrived at the appointed hour, only to discover that many of the people in the adjoining seats experienced no difficulty in gaining access, notwithstanding the fact that they did not turn up until two or three hours later, having enjoyed a hearty breakfast!

    Meanwhile, back in Sutton Coldfield, we were one of the first homes in the road in which we lived to have a television set (complete with a 9-inch screen!) and, as was to become increasingly apparent as the day progressed, my mother had invited all and sundry to pop in whenever they liked to watch the proceedings. Thus we were invaded by a large number of people throughout the day (thankfully the majority had the decency to limit their stay to no more than 30 minutes) and our poor old babysitter’s enjoyment was marred by having to make, and wash up, endless cups of tea.

    Curiously, my lasting memory of the day is not of the Coronation proceedings but of the fact that, during the early afternoon, the television broadcast was interrupted with the news that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay had become the first men in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

    During the evening, my parents went to see the hottest show in the West End, namely Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”, where they rubbed shoulders with royalty and political leaders from all over the world. For them, it was a truly memorable day!

  14. Location: Stanford Bridge, Worcestershire

    For a 13 ½ year old public schoolboy in 1953 to be told that you are allowed home for a few days in the middle of the summer term was simply unbelievable. My mode of travel would be by steam train, as it would be for most of the other boys, starting at Combpyne Station (in Devon) to Axminster on the then single track (pre-Beeching) from there to Worcester Shrub Hill via Exeter and Bristol. On meeting my parents, my Mum informed me that there was a ‘surprise’ waiting for me at home. The excitement increased, all the way home the conversation was limited to, “Come on Mum, tell me what it is?” with repeated answers of “No! Wait till you get there and find it for yourself.”

    On arrival the search began. The only new thing that could be found was a cocktail cabinet in the breakfast room – disappointment set in until its doors were opened to reveal a little rectangular screen with knobs under it. A television. We would be able to watch the whole of the Coronation on the ‘tele’ (the word ‘box’ had not yet been coined).

    My parents told me the plans for the Coronation Celebrations in the village:
    (i) a competition for the best decorated child’s bike. Mine was a Raleigh. The frame had to be wrapped in red, white and blue crepe paper with a Union Jack to be attached to the handlebars.
    (ii) The best decorated car. My Pa had an old Wolsley 25 hp. It was decked with a Union Jack on the bonnet, flags on the front bumper and ribbons on the door handles.

    There were to be village sports, refreshments in the Village Hall, a present for each child in the village, a fancy dress parade and in the evening a bonfire and fireworks on the terrace at the Court.

    Sports were to be held on the field opposite the Village Hall (then farmed by Percy Smith – Robin and David’s Dad). My only memory of these that it was wet and muddy (a true English Summer’s Day) supported by refreshments – probably towers of sandwiches made with white sliced bread washed down with cups of tea from the then village urn, but to be followed by the best bits – homemade cakes and jelly. Whilst this was going on, each child from the village was presented with a gift. My luck was to have two plaster cast busts, one of the Queen and one of Prince Philip. They were in white and stood approximately ten inches high, and last seen in the kitchen cabinet at Noverton, when clearing for the ‘big move’ to Clee Hill.

    Oh yes, the fancy dress – I had searched the attic at Noverton for something (un)suitable, and found a long white flannelette night dress with a large red ‘L’ on front and back, originally presented to my Mother on the occasion of her wedding in the 1930s – a Herefordshire/ Worcestershire farmers’ joke . In those days of innocence I hadn’t the faintest notion of the relevance of these large red ‘L’s. Added to this I found a very ornate Indian hat in purple and red with a long tassel and furry ear muffs. The hat had been brought home by my Uncle who had served in India in the 1939-45 war. While serving in Bomber Command as a rear gunner, he acquired the ‘Burma Star’ and other decorations.
    To round off the day, we all assembled on the front lawn of the Court, then owned by Harry Entwistle (Robin Dean’s Great Uncle) who ran an apple packing enterprise at that time. The bonfire and fireworks all went well for a while, with a beautiful bonfire. Then it was the turn of the fireworks, to be controlled by the responsible, the ‘good and the great’ of the parish. But low and behold after a couple of super Catherine wheels, a spark got into the box of fireworks, thus producing horizontal rockets bombing the front of the Court, and Catherine wheels making off into the lake unaccompanied. Suddenly, orders from the organisers “Everyone into the Main Hall for protection!!” At least nobody had been hurt.

    “Just Memories”

  15. Location Eardiston, Worcestershire

    Yes I do remember the coronation,my father Harry Price had been given the chance to move from Menith Wood to Keepers Cottage in Dumbleton Lane to”save his legs” said Colonel Wallace while working at the Eardiston Farming Co. 1949/50. I was 12 years old and remember my father saying Warag contractors had been ordered by the government to bulldoze many of our beautiful orchards out that had grown many varieties of fruit over the years for wheat crops due to a food shortage following the second world war. With five working horses still on the estate cart loads of wood was transported from the orchards to the Whiteley’s field near the Sheepcote where a large fire was built with many faggots of brash placed around for seating.

    On Coronation night, the fire was lit joining beacons on Broadheath and the Malverns quite a sight to see and remember. The Eardiston Farming Co. had always made their own cider and perry stored at the Whitehouse Farm (Eardiston) and with sandwiches made this a memorable evening resulting in the Rev. Wilkinson our Lindridge vicar at that time becoming rather intoxicated.

  16. Location The Mall, London

    I remember the Coronation day as if it was yesterday. My parents took us to all royal occasions and we had been to the Lying in State of the king the year before. On the day before the coronation we took the train to London and walked what seemed miles to the Mall. I was 13. My parents , sister, one brother and I took up positions, We had a camping groundsheet loads of sandwiches a small primus stove and drinks. Luckily a loo and water stand were closeby.

    We waited all night in the rain and used the groundsheet to cover us. The following day after what seemed an age the procession finally started. It was amazing. Queen Salote passed by in her carriage waving and smiling at us all. When the Queen finally came in her lovely golden coach the people just screamed with delight. I remember thinking that she was so beautiful and that was my most enduring thought to this day, she appeared to wave just to me as did the Prince. A policeman and a soldier moved slightly to one side so that we kids could see better.

    The rain was forgotten and I probably still bore everyone with my recollections of all the royal occasions that I have witnessed. Squealing with delight when I see myself on screen. This week I will bore them with my remembrances of the Coronation. As I do every June.

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