top of page

1893: Cuckfield festivities to celebrate for Royal Wedding

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 11 July 1893


The Sixth of July, 1893, is a day that will be long remembered by the inhabitants of Cuckfield as the marriage date of the Duke of York and Princess May. The weather was gloriously fine, and the few clouds that occasionally dimmed the fierce light of the sun. only served to temper the heat and render scene the more enjoyable.

The outward and visible signs of inward rejoicing were to be seen everywhere. From the top of the beautiful old Parish Church the Royal Standard floated in the breeze, while lower down the tower was decorated with various flags. The streets were simply a blaze of colour. All the hues of the rainbow were represented in dazzling profusion.

Festoons of evergreens and strings of flags spanned the roads with brilliant effect, more especially in the vicinity Mr. Goodwin’s premises and “Ye White Harte”. Mottos of all kinds abounded, the rich vieing with the poor in the effort to express their kindly wishes to the Royal pair. A tasteful arch adorned the entrance to Warden Court, composed of bunting, evergreens, and rosettes, and on it was inscribed “Welcome Her, Welcome the Land’s Desire.” “Health and Happiness” appeared in several places.

The “King's Head expressed its desire that “God would bless them both” and in close proximity the same wish was to be seen in slightly different language-—“God bless the Royal Pair.” Mr. Bunting's shop front was choicely displayed the motto “Health and Happiness to the Bride and Bridegroom,” the design being a pretty study in red and white.

The Post Office was gay with a trophy of flags and the Royal monogram gracefully entwined. Nor were the private houses and gardens devoid of decoration. Flags could be observed depending from large number of dwellings, while at Ockenden House (Mrs. Tapling) an even more ambitious attempt at adornment was made, masts covered with evergreens and flags being placed in the grounds. The lodge gate of Woodcroft (Sir C. L, Peel) presented a pretty aspect, the drive being crossed and recrossed by streamers.

Mr. Chambers’ premises at Ansty were also well decorated, a large motto being exhibited. Punctually at half-post twelve the commemorative proceedings commenced with a gladsome peal from the Church bells, which continued till the stroke of one, and created much pleasure on account of its comparative rarity.

The Wedding of George V (then Duke of York) and Mary "May" of Teck July 6 1893, colourised photograph courtesy of Pinterest

At two o’clock a short choral service, conducted by the Rev. G. Irvine, was held in the church, which was attended by a large congregation of children and a goodly number of ladies. It commenced with the hearty singing of “All people that on earth do dwell” as a processional hymn, the choir and clergy being accompanied by Major Maberly and Mr. Best (Churchwardens). The form of prayer and thanksgiving used on the occasion consisted of selected prayers, Psalm cxxviii., a brief lesson, the wedding hymn “How welcome was the call,” and prayers for the Church and Royal Family. The Blessing having been duly given “God save the Queen” was sung, and the service ended with “Now thank we all our God,” rendered as a recessional hymn.

The congregation then trooped out and a procession of the National and British School children was formed in Church-street. It was headed by the Town Band (Bandmaster, Mr. Attewell), who played some inspiriting marches in good style. Several banners were carried by the children, and numerous flags were scattered throughout the ranks. The coming generation were in high spirits, and looked radiant in their Sunday-go-to-meeting attire. Some wore medals and flowers, but the majority of the little boys appeared to disdain any attempt at such adornment. Proceeding down Place-walk to the strains of “The Man that broke the Bank," the gates of Cuckfield Park were soon entered, and the party marched through the avenue and turning to the left arrived in the Park. They were accompanied by a large number of townspeople, and in a very short space of time the scene presented was most gay and animated.

Under the fine trees at the side of the Park, skirting the main road, a range of shelters had been erected, for the convenience of the monster “tea-fight” to follow. The musicians were placed on a band stand conveniently situated for every purpose, while cricketers were permitted to use the Club pitch. Swings and see-saws were furnished for the use of the juveniles and children of a larger growth. A cricket match was soon in progress, the contest being between residents North and South of the Town Clock. The two “elevens” consisted of seventeen each side, and produced a good deal of startling if not exactly scientific cricket. “Ducks’ eggs were plenty,” as the Americans would say, and slogging was the Order of the afternoon. High scores did not seem to be in fashion, the largest individual total only reaching 18.

After just over four hours’ cricket the match was abandoned, owing to the superior attractions of the dancing, leaving the North side victorious by nine runs on the first innings—(North 69, South 60). Some idea of the game may be gathered from the fact that no less than 48 wickets fell in the course of the match, giving an average of about three minutes’ stay at the stumps per player. The girls and the boys also had a match in the orthodox manner, the “left handeders” compiling and their fair opponents 24. The see-saws were largely patronised, and were a source of much amusement, an utter lack of knowledge of dynamics being shown by the energetic partakers of the sport.

Many of the elders preferred a walk through the Park, which appeared simply lovely. Far away in the distance the hills melted away into bluish haze, a sure sign of fine weather. The Iake looked charming, and the old house as viewed from its extremity was a sight not soon to be forgotten. The air, notwithstanding the heat, was deliciously fresh, owing to the recent rains, which gave the verdure freshness and colour to which it has long been unaccustomed.

The tea was a great success, and reflected much credit on the energetic caterer, Mr. S. Willett. Long before the time fixed for the commencement of the meal groups of children were prowling round the tent, and the tables were crowded directly the signal was given. 406 youngsters sat down to the repast, of which the girls numbered 206, and the boys 198.

The plates of bread and butter and cake vanished like magic, and the stock of buns entirely disappeared under the onslaught. The little ones were waited on with much alacrity, the voluntary helpers including Mrs. Attewell, Mrs. Morfee, Miss Best, Miss Blaber, Miss Rotton, Miss Tapling, Rev. G. Irvine, Mr. Herrington, etc.

At the conclusion of the meal the female portion of Cuckfield mustered in great strength and filled the vacated places. There was a sprinkling of old men also present, and a very strong brigade of babies. Needless to say the din was great, the infants doing a full share of the conversation. There was no lack of appetite on the part of the tea-drinkers, in fact it seemed as if the demand would never cease.

According to the contractor at least 450 must have partaken of this meal, bringing up the total to about 860. No less than 5cwt. of food was eaten, consisting of bread-and-butter, cake, and 1,000 buns. 120 gallons of tea were drank, so that there must have been some very thirsty souls in the company. After tea the Park presented the appearance of a glorified school treat. Scrambles evoked the usual frantic struggles, and right was nowhere against might.

Races were organised for the children by Major Maberly, Mr. Best, and Mr. Herrington (who was indefatigable in his efforts), the prizes including needle and thimble cases, knitting needles, handkerchiefs, books, lamp mats, etc., for the girls, and knives, note paper, watch chains, and pencil cases for the boys.

It goes without saying that the competition was severe, but as something like 300 prizes were given away, quite half the children had a chance of winning one of the much coveted articles. During the progress of the sports the Band played an excellent selection of dance music for those who inclined to that form of entertainment.

Amongst the melodies we recognised the well-known strains of “The Gondoliers,” several airs being played in a creditable manner. As to the dancing it was enjoyable to the dancers and funny to the spectators. If not every grace of accuracy in the figures, there was plenty of life, which after all is the main thing. A pleasant three hours having been, spent in this occupation, a display of fireworks concluded the proceedings.

The effect was good considering that only £5 was spent for pyrotechnic purposes. One or two fireworks discharged on the lake had a pretty appearance, and inducd the onlookers to utter quite a volley of “Ahs” and "Ohs.” At their termination the company, which must have numbered between two and three thousand, left the Park, a very pleasant day having been spent.

The best thanks or the inhabitants are certainly due to Mr. C. W. Sergison, J.P., who was present throughout the day, for the loan of the Park on the occasion. The arrangements were in the hands of a Committee consisting of Major Maberly, J.P..C.C., who promoted the celebration, the Rev. J. Collyer, Mr. T. W. Best and Mr. S. Knight. Mr. J. Wood was chairman of the Working Committee, and with the help of Mr. Lewin carried out in an admirable manner the decorations of the town. Mr. Herrington and Mr. W. Mitchell had charge of the Park, and the former gentleman was principally responsible for the sports. The other members of the Committee, the Rev. G. Irvine, Messrs. Banting, Duke, Hunt, Hooker, Malyan, etc., also worked ably and well. Messrs. S. Knight and E. Norris kindly lent builder’s material and labour for the erection of the band stand.

We understand that the expenses have been carefully limited to the amount subscribed, viz.: £40 to £50, and that there is no probability of deficit.

At the Workhouse.

The Royal Wedding was heartily celebrated at the Workhouse, which was decorated, a large flag being also displayed mast high. The regulation fare was varied at breakfast time, and at the dinner hour the inmates, who number over 150, were regaled with a dinner of roast beef and potatoes, with fruit tarts and custards. After dinner the Master (Mr. J. Howe), in a few appropriate sentences, alluded to the occasion, and the Duke and Duchess of York were accorded a warm round of cheering. Sports and cricket were held in the grounds, and at tea the tables were piled with cake, bread, butter, and jam.

Sweets were given to the little ones, and altogether the day was one to be long remembered as a red-letter day by the inmates. Mr. and Mrs. Howe and the staff of nurses and other officials were assiduous in doing their best to make the festivities of the most enjoyable character.


bottom of page