Market Harborough Jubilee Workshops
To celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee we are excited to share the memories of individuals living in Market Harborough who are of the Queen’s generation. Over the course of two workshops participants shared some very special memories with us which we are proud to present to you in this online exhibition. The workshops were delivered by Leicestershire Adult Learning Service (GoLearn!) and Culture Leicestershire, in partnership with Voluntary Action South Leicestershire and Harborough District Council. Each participant was asked to bring their objects and memories that meant something to them relating to the Queen and the Jubilee. This is the online exhibition showcasing the voices of participants and their priceless memories, saved and shared for generations to come!
“So when Charles and Diana got married I wrote a letter and sent a card to the palace and I got a lovely letter back thanking me for my card and my letter, wishing me good luck for the future. I’ve still got it at home. I got a letter back. It’s all obviously not written by the Queen, it’s all done by the secretaries and things… I mean how many thousands, or hundreds of thousands must they have sent if they replied. They would’ve replied to every single one, I’m sure. Yeah very proud of our Royal family, and I’ve sent things lot of times. I sent sympathy when Windsor was on fire and you always get something back. You always will get a letter back.”
John has his collection of coins and Royal Memorabilia from his neighbours, who sadly passed away, leaving John with these treasures.
On a sunny summer afternoon in 1947 at Thorpe Lubenham Hall, John was on a bike and nearly ran Princess Elizabeth over! John was 18 years old in RAF stationed in Leicester.
The items I bought along to the session: “One is from the coronation and the one is from the 77’ Jubilee”
“The one from the coronation one was my wife’s. The other we bought for the children because we had a party… We had a party in a hall in Market Harborough… It was a British Legion Hall.”
Reminiscing about watching huge events such as the coronation: “It is amazing though at the time, the cameras and the little TVs, how small they were, and how many people got round the television…A person had a magnifying glass made of oil on the front so you could see it.”
“We went over to Canada as my wife had relations out there, it was when Di was top of the thing. They said ‘Oh you are from England’ and we said ‘Yes, ‘Do you know Princess Di?’ And I said ‘Of course I do, I have been over there for tea!’ My wife said, ‘You can’t say that!’ And I said ‘Well we have, we went to concerts they used to have at Althorp, and we had a cup of tea there!'”
“My uncle used to be at Ulverston station where she used to go when she went to Sandringham and he said that’s the throne that the Queen uses, so my mum was adamant that on the throne we go and we all trooped in there!”
“And of course there were the WI parties… Everyone took their own knives and forks with a bit of string on them so you knew who’s was who’s. There wasn’t any in the village halls.”
“We did have a party for the coronation… Me and my friend sat under a table and as they put the beer bottles down we were…I don’t suppose we were totally drunk… It was something lovely…that you don’t realise at the time.”
“Me and my husband were invited to the palace… There’s my John with Prince Charles, he’s the one in the middle John… He was in the Korean war, but he wasn’t in the shooting he was in the organising… He was on a ship called the Ladybird and he was with three or four other men and they organised the fighting and what was going on in the world. So he was pretty well known John.”
John “was in the Not Forgotten Organisation for the Ex Service, he belonged to loads of things, that’s why we went” to the palace.
Describes another photograph; “These are Korean veterans meeting Turkish comrades. My John is there” (right in the centre of the image).
Diary excerpt from the Garden party on the 19th July. “John and I took a very leisurely trip to Hemel Hempstead by train to Euston. What lovely weather, so warm and sunny – I wrote this in the evening when I got home – From Euston we took a taxi to Buckingham Palace, sharing with another couple while queuing for a taxi. We had to queue and awful lot, it was midday with lots of people about. This couple were from Accrington and he had been in the Gulf War and I hadn’t realised they were a lot younger than us and had started to ask if he had been in the Korean War. To which he said ‘He hadn’t even been born at that time!’ Silly me. The taxi ride took ages as the traffic is so heavy in London. Entering the palace gates, people, police and everyone was so friendly to us it made us feel important. Lots of onlookers outside of the palace. Met Philippa – that’s my friend in the picture- on the lawn at the back. The band was playing and all around the garden were marquees with large tables and chairs and Philippa had saved us a place with them and with Lee, a chairman from Luton RNA was also at our table with another two couples. One of which was a man from Reading who had an HMS Eagle badge on him. There were cold drinks on the table and just behind where we sat were long tables with sandwiches and cakes, tea and coffee, lovely atmosphere. We had our photos taken with Tony Blackburn. Among the people we saw during the afternoon as well as Princess Anne, we met Princess Anne, was Vera Lynn – she was lovely – Patricia Hodge an actress. I should think there was well over a thousand people there. Music, weather and good company made it a most enjoyable afternoon. I hope we shall be invited again.”
“Another time we were invited to Buckingham Palace but into the garden and we walked right round the back somewhere and we met up with, that was another invitation, this other group and they were all Navy, I’m not sure if they were all military people”.
“My first Royal memory goes back to 1936 because it was the coronation, so when the Queens father, King George VI was coronated, there was no television back then, not many people had radios, so all the children at school got a commemorative mug.”
“My next Royal memory, I was in the RAF doing my national service and I just happened to be in the billet on my own and the radio announced that King George VI, the Queen’s father, had died. She was abroad representing him, so she became the Queen overnight really.”
“I was working in Rochdale and the Duke of Edinburgh came to open a new shopping centre. My background is in the civil service and he passed the crown building and my girls were hanging out of the window, and the Duke looked and said “You lot should be inside working!”
“The main memories are that for many years that my wife needed intensive care. There was a special hotel, its closed now, called Park House on the Sandringham Estate, which did belong to the Queen and still does belong to the Queen and it was Princess Diana’s childhood home. Princess Diana’s nanny, Inga, is now quite an old lady, used to do meal support for my wife. She gave us quite a few innocent stories about Diana. We stayed in this hotel, two times a year as they had a professional team of carers and if you went in the summer, on one of the weeks the hotel had a garden party. The Prince of Wales and Camilla, we were all lined up and they came round and shook hands with everybody. You would have seen this on television, prior to lockdown the Royal family left Sandringham to go to church and people who were in Sandringham at the time used to cluster on the way, quite a few of them, you know the Royal family, they would stop and have a word with you. And on the Sandringham estate, quite often you would see the Queen or the Duke, this is going back years, just driving around.”
“When I was in the RAF, that was early 60s, we used to have a Princess Alexandra in those days, and she was on the plane with me then and I met her.”
Diana’s family was the only family with a TV on her street. To celebrate the coronation was her mother and her friend made 30 bunny blancmanges. They stayed up really late overnight to get these bunnies sorted so they could all sit in front of the TV and have a bright pink bunny each with green jelly.
“We did a pageant at school, it was King George signing the Magna Carter” which was part of the coronation. I was a page to the right of the photograph.
The coronation mug “my brother ran down the road, he was seven and a half. He ran into a tree on the way home from school and broke his mug! So every time he saw my mug years later he would ask ‘You sure that’s not my mug?’”
“This book was presented to me by the Education Committee of the Northamptonshire County Council to Colin of Geddingon School, on the occasion of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the 2nd. 2nd June 1953. The book was written by Richard Dimbleby.” I was eight when I got this book!
“Mum and Dad had a TV at the time…We watched (the coronation) on a 9 inch Bush. My brother and Mum and Dad and we watched it on the Bush. We lived in a remote village at the time which was a farming community. The party was held in a room next to a dairy, which held cattle feed. The feed was removed so we could hold the party.”
“I remember the Silver Jubilee of 1977 as my wife and myself was on holiday in Chichester at the time staying with relatives. There were several parties going on and it was a folk dances as well.”
“I also have the Silver Jubilee mug from 1977. Forget where I got it from. There were two actually but the other one disappeared, so probably gave it charity shop after lost my Mum and Dad and then my brother. But found this one the other day and kept it. Suddenly realised three days ago, I’ll take this and bring it here! The only trouble is it’s not full!”
“I actually wasn’t born when the coronation happened but we do have a coronation mug that I think belonged to my parents. We’ve also at home got quite a few of these books that I think were given out by the Daily Express…They are just full of photographs and this one is King Emperors Jubilee 1910 to 1935.”
“This one is my favourite because this is 60 years of Queen Victoria. So again, this is 60 years a queen and goes through the whole… Then I’ve got one that’s a bit like Colin’s, not given to me, but it did belong to my husband. I only know that because when he was a child, he used to number all his books and his put number 45 on this one. And it’s a book about the young queen.”
“On going through my great aunts box of stuff. I found a handkerchief…She was 103 when she died.”
“This is the order of service for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Everyone who attended Westminster Abbey this was the order of service. So it goes through all the prayers and then what everybody had to do. Like it says ‘in the mean time, the King rising from his devotions, having been disrobed of his Crimson robe by the Lord Great Chamberlain, and, having taken off his cap of state, shall go before the altar supported and attended as before. Prayer will then be said.’ I was quite excited to find that!”
“We were in a row and the Queen turned up, with the dignitaries, and we were all given a handmade silver shilling. Cause in those days, the Queen bought you for a shilling…It was a handmade silver shilling. And how far I was from the Queen, little bit further than you are from me. We were about 10 of us”.
“And coming down the other end was Princess Diana. So I bowed, and went backwards. She beckoned me to come forward, and I went forwards, still bowing down. She didn’t like me bowing down. I remember she had white gloves on, she took her glove off and shook my hand and thanked me for all the work I did for the Prince’s Trust. And the wife who used to do their books for them and sort their tax out. As far as everybody was concerned, nobody ever knew about it. Never in the papers or anywhere, you know. But a fantastic experience. Very gentle, soft hands. I can’t remember what her hair was like or what she was wearing cause I was in a state of shock!…That’s right, you know, that she took her white glove off and shook my hand. Fantastic.”
“Culture Leicestershire: So they took the children to the (Stoughton) airfield?
Jacqui: To welcome her. I know, and there was a few, and actually I had to stand forwards and say hello! I wasn’t given any flowers, but I was little –
Culture Leicestershire: Were you taught how to curtsy then?
Jacqui: Yeah, I remember that vividly. And the lady behind her took the flowers and she just went.
Culture Leicestershire: Wow, amazing, what a memory.
Jacqui: I’m always going past the sideroad of the thing and I can remember, I can see it now. And the children were sort of, were we given flags? I think we were.”
“I’m a real royalist… Even my grandchildren, I’m talking to them about the jubilee! And I’ve just made the bunting for the church.”
“Seeing the Duke of Edinburgh walk behind her, four steps, all his life, it was so respectful, so loving. She knew he was there. And when she sat in that place on her own it was heart-breaking for the nation.”