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Jane and Jubilees

May 31, 2012

This weekend the United Kingdom celebrates Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. The Museum has arranged some special events for children at the Museum on Sunday and Monday, all with a Jubilee/Royal theme. These have been organised by Annalie, our Education Officer.

On Saturday 2nd and  Sunday 3rd June, there will be a Kings and Queens Hunt around Jane Austen’s House and on Bank Holiday Monday (the 4th June), from 11a.m to 3p.m, children can make a Regency Crown. We do hope you can come and join in the fun.

While the Museum will be open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday as usual, it will be closed on Tuesday, so please do take note of this if you are planning to visit Chawton this weekend.

In 1809 England was celebrating another Jubilee, George III’s Golden Jubilee. George III had reigned for 50 years at this point. The celebrations took place on the 25th October, the anniversary of George III acceding to the throne.

At Chawton, Jane Austen was entertaining her bother, Edward and his daughter Fanny, who were staying with them. Fanny’s pocket book describes their day:

The Jubilee on act. of the dear old King’s 50th accession day. No very grand doings here. We all dined with Mrs F. A.(Frank Austen’s wife) except G.M. & Charles. I spent the morng. there whilst Papa, Aunts C and Jane called at Froyle

 Other parts of Hampshire celebrated in a far more lively fashion. On the 24th October, Mary Austen, wife of Jane’s eldest brother, James, had attended a special Jubilee Ball at Basingstoke, and the Basingstoke area celebrations sound splendid:

Not less than one thousand persons (comprehending the indigent of both sexes and all ages) were liberally treated with an amplitude of wholesome viands, accompanied with ten hogsheads of strong beer, at Lord Bolton’s seat at Hackwood . Mr. Chute, Col. Jervoise, Mr. Wither, Mr. Blackburn, Mr. Harwood and other neighbouring gentlemen, emulated each other on the joyful occasion, in similar acts of liberality. The day was introduced by a ball and cold collation on the preceding night, at which all the neighbouring gentry were present. The religious service of the day was attended by The Mayor and Corporation, the North Hants Cavalry and Basingstoke Infantry; when an excellent sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Russell Curate of Basingstoke; a liberal subscription was raised for the indigent ands the day concluded with a public dinner, at the Town Hall, attended by the Mayor and Corporation, the North Hants Corps and many of the neighbouring gentlemen, where the utmost harmony and festivity prevailed to a late hour.

At Fareham and Andover subscription collections allowed over 1500 poor people to be supplied with bread, meat and beer., and at Steventon, the Digweeds, the local squires, gave a dinner for the poor of the parish, which was held in their barn on their estate.

There were great celebrations in Winchester:

After the clock had struck twelve on Tuesday night, all the bells of the different churches were rung in the city and the suburbs, to usher in the happy 50th anniversary of the accession of our beloved Sovereign. At ten o’clock the inhabitants, military, friendly societies &c. went in procession from the County Hall to the Cathedral Church. All the procession returned to the airing ground behind the barracks where the soldiers in barracks and the Winchester Loyal Volunteers fired a “feu de joie” with cheers thee time three. The sermon was preached by the Rev, Dr, Grey. The concourse of people was immense. After the ceremony the charity children were regaled with a hearty meal of roast beef, plum pudding and strong beer; the girls at the Guildhall and the boys at the school room above St Johns-house. There was an elegant dinner provided at St.John’s-house for above one hundred gentlemen of distinction, where the utmost conviviality prevailed to a late hour. Many excellent songs were sung; at each end of the large room transparencies were displayed. The evening concluded with every demonstration of joy; the societies after the procession regaled themselves at the different inns. A handsome donation of meat, coals and bread was distributed to the poor throughout the city and suburbs; never was a day of more festivity in the memory of the oldest inhabitant.

 And in Portsmouth, in addition to military displays and church services,

In the evening there was a most superb ball and supper at the Crown, given by the Officers of the Army and Navy to the principal inhabitants of the town ,Gosport and neighbourhood,


Messrs W. Burridge and Sons of Portsmouth, distributed three-pence  to each of the French prisoners confined on board the prison ships in that harbour…and six-pence to each of the Danish prisoners being 186. They had printed cards distributed signifying that the donation was “In consequence of the humanity shown by Marshal Mortier to the British sick and wounded after the Battle of Talavera.

 Whatever you are doing this weekend, we hope you have a wonderful time and we do hope that some of you will be able to visit the museum to take part in the special activities for children.

 (Note: all details of the 1809 Golden Jubilee Celebrations are quoted fromAn Account of the Celebration of the Jubilee on the 25th October 1809 for the Forty-Ninth Anniversary of the Reign of George III” The Father of his People, Collected and Published by A Lady (The Wife of a Naval Officer” (1809 ))

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2012 1:21 pm

    An excellently informative post and I wager that the celebrants then had more fun than those of today even with [or possibly because of] the media hype we have nowadays. I was particularly interested that the charity children got strong beer, [I presume] instead of small beer that would be everyday fare being safer to drink than water.

    • jfwakefield permalink*
      May 31, 2012 3:57 pm

      I too was surprised at the strong beer for teh charity children, thinking that small beer might have been more appropriate, but obviously our 21st century sensibilities are showing;) That book is a marvellous resource, and it is very interesting to see how Jubilees were celebrated then, comparing them with now. This was the first of the modern Jubilee celebrations and set the pattern for the future.

  2. kfield2 permalink
    May 31, 2012 10:12 pm

    As an American, I’m totally new to this kind of nationwide event. We have our 4th of July which is the closest thing I believe to your celebrations. This was insightful, along with your post yesterday on your own blog, Julie. I can imagine it being something that everyone would have been anticipating and then talking about for years afterward. The book written by A Lady (my first thought was that Jane Austen used that exact moniker as her author’s name in her books) looks like it would be fascinating to read. I was also struck by the fact that the charity children were given strong beer. Loved this post!

  3. cathyallen permalink
    June 1, 2012 12:26 am

    Fascinating information, thank you, Julie. I was struck by Fanny’s writing “the dear old King.” I’m American, and I think of your Queen as “the dear Queen.” She has certainly lived up to her promise of dedicating her life, “whether it be long or short,” to the service of her people, hasn’t she? What a woman!

    Here in our San Diego (California) newspaper, two Sundays ago, the front page of the Travel section was dedicated to stories about the festivities there. I didn’t see any mention of the celebrations planned for there at Jane Austen’s House Museum, though, sorry! It sounds as if your Education Officer, Annalie, has things well in hand, and I hope all goes well. Happy Jubilee to you all!

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