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1911: Cuckfield celebrates the Coronation of George V in style

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 27 June 1911


With wholehearted enthusiasm did Cuckfieldians greet Coronation Day. For some time prior to its arrival "heads had been laid together" to plan a pleasing programme, and if the clerk of the weather had only worked with, and not against, the committee everything would have been A1.

To the appeal for subscriptions there was a most generous response, upwards of £150 having been forthcoming. Householders busied themselves on Coronation Eve in decorating their dwellings, and especially artistic were the displays made at the Workhouse, the Kings Head Hotel and Mr R. Anscombe’s.

From many a cottage window there fluttered in the breeze a Union Jack, and to the passer-by this told of loyalty within. At 7 o'clock on Coronation Day the National flag was displayed from the steeple of the parish church, and at 8 o'clock many residents attended Holy Communion at the Church, the service being taken by the Reverend Robert Fisher (vicar) and the Reverend R. H. C. Mertens. At 9 o'clock Ex Sergeant Bugler Hounsell played on his cornet from the opening in the church steeple "God save the King," and this was followed by a salute of 21 clanging strokes on the bells.

At 10 o'clock there was a special children's service, this being conducted by the Reverend E. V. Fenn. At 11 o'clock there were held Coronation Services at the Parish Church and the Congregational Church, both places of worship being filled.

At the Parish Church seats were reserved for the Urban Council, and the following members attended: – Mr S. Knight, J. P. (Chairman), Mr R. Harris (Vice-Chairman), Mr S. Caffyn, Mr A. Beeching, Mr E.E. Napper, Mr C. Hobson, Mr Hubert Bates, and Mr. H.M.W.W.Bridgman, with Mr C.H. Waugh (Clerk). Mr R. Anscombe sat with the choir (which was augmented for the occasion by ladies as well as gentlemen), and two other members of the council, Miss Payne, and Mr J. Denman, would have been present had not their services been required in Cuckfield Park.

Very heartily sung was the processional hymn "all people that on earth to dwell," after which the Reverend R. H. C. Mertens in a clear voice said, “Brethren, I desire you to pray for our sovereign Lord, King George, and for the Church and people of this land, wherein God has called him to bear rule; remembering especially the King's great need of God's most gracious favour and continual help". Then came the litany, and the next introit: "Let my prayer come up into Thy presence as the incense: and let the lifting up of my hands be as an evening sacrifice." This was set to music by Mr. T. E. P. Attewell, who was at the organ, and with great feeling did the choir render it. Then followed the hymn commencing

"All the hosts of Britain gather,

One clear signal all obey,

Ev’ry son and every father

Hears his country call today,

Ev’ry daughter, every mother

hears the music rise and fall,

Ev’ry sister every brother

Knows the meaning of the call:

’Tis the coronation calling come and sing,

Come and shout with all your heart, God save the King!”

The Reverend R. Fisher, in a very telling manner, read the recital of the solemnities of the Coronation, and at the close the choir gave a splendid rendering of the Homage Anthem, composed by Sir Frederick Bridge, the tenor solo being finely sung by Mr H. E. Stuart.

After further prayers there was voiced the hymn "Raise the song, ye Loyal Voices, Save the King, God save the King," and when the Vicar had pronounced the Benediction the te deum was sung, and the impressive service ended with the national anthem.

As the people flocked from the sacred building the bells rang out joyously. At the Congregational church the service was conducted by the Reverend S. Maddock (pastor)- and the Lessons - Peter ii, 13-17, Rev. xix., 11-16 - were read by Mr William Stevens, J.P. The hymns sung were "oh God, our help in ages past," "lift the song among the nations," "Lord, while for all mankind we pray" and "praise to our God whose bounteous hand”. The Te Deum and “God Save our Gracious King” were also sung. Mr Fred Knight was at the organ. The address given by the pastor was based on I. Kings I, 37: "as the Lord has been with my Lord the king, even so be he here with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my Lord King David." Change the name, said the preacher, and you have the wish, a heartfelt prayer, of 1/4 of the inhabitants of the Globe today. May George V be great as his father Edward VI was great in a new ideal of kingship! Called suddenly to the heavy responsibilities of such a throne, in the few months of the reign the king and queen had grown immeasurably in the esteem, the confidence, and affection of the nation, and the prospect of the reign was rosier than ever. As the Sun never sets on their dominions, so might it never set on the love of the people whom they govern. Happy the nation that can pray this prayer, that is not afraid to invoke its past. We owe the high and glorious traditions of the throne largely to the King's ancestors, Edward VI and Victoria.

In crowning the king that day the nation was crowning itself, for the King, acting always on the advice of his ministers, can do no wrong. If any evil exists in England it exists by the permission of the English people. To make his reign glorious there was needed a noble and earnest and God-fearing people, to whom vice was a plague; who hated oppression as they hated robbery, who loved liberty as they loved life, to whom purity was more than pleasure, duty more glorious than glory, honour than riches, and a good name more than fame. God save the King! God enthrone him in the affections of a loving people and make him great through just and equal laws! And may his dominions grow in purity, integrity, happiness, peace, and well-being.

During the dinner are there were frequent showers. Now and again people looked up to the heavens and gave it as their opinion that the weather would clear, and some of those who listened to them regained heart and courageously set out to enjoy themselves, leaving Macintoshes and umbrellas at home. But they were wise who took these things with them, for on and off during the afternoon and evening the rain came pitter patter down and drenched those who had no protection.

Cuckfield Park was placed at the disposal of the Committee for the festivities, and had the day been fine no more charming ground could have been desired. The Cuckfield Town Band was engaged for the occasion, and the selections played tended to cheer up drooping spirits. Numbers of people visited the Park determined to enjoy themselves no matter what the weather might be, and it was good to rub shoulders with these.

The Cuckfield Band performing c1911 - colourised (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

Mr R. Hunt, of Winchester Lodge, very kindly drove to the ground some 50 inmates of the Workhouse. A long program of sports had been arranged for men and women and boys and girls, and for each event there were plenty of competitors for the nice prizes offered. These were presented to the successful contestants at the close of each race by Mrs Denman and Mrs R. Anscombe. Quoits and bowls afforded pleasure to both players and onlookers, and in the Committee tent the gramophone enlivened those who sought shelter therein.

At 4 o'clock tea was served, and the greatest praise must be bestowed on the Tea Sub-committee for the arrangements they made for the prompt serving of all who sat down at the tables. There was a plentiful supply of everything – and the “tea” was worthy of the name.

In the evening it was proposed to have a carnival, but the rain cut short the proceedings and spoiled the effect of what undoubtedly would have been a grand spectacle. There were two prettily decorated cars representative of the British Isles and Sons of the Empire, also an airship (Cuckfield make).

Cuckfield celebrations in 1911 - colourised (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

Prizes were offered for the best costumes, and the following lined up before the judges: – T. Cook (Cavalier), W. Staff (votes for women), G. Godsmark (Britannia), L. Brigden, G. Baker, B. Miles and R. Hillman, H. Hobbs, and J Bourne (clowns), V. Gaston (John Bull), G. Burtenshaw (Queenslander). H. Knight (Spanish dancer), E. Westgate (Bill Sykes), T. Elder (policeman), S. Knight (New Zealander), E. Mitchell (African trader), C. Cook (Dick Turpin) , F. Anscombe (Chinaman) W. Miles (Hindu), B.M. Denman (New south Wales Lancer), C. H. Avery (Canadian cowboy), F. Onslow (tramp), J. G. Wynter (Mephistopheles) , E. Attwater (John bowl), A. T. Rapley ("simple life"), W. Bennett (huntsman), E. Roland (African slave), J. Burridge (red Indian), W. Bowley (Farmer Giles). Cecil Fisher (maiden), Winifred Atherton (Welsh girl), Millie Mays (Red Riding Hood), Alice Fisher (guide), Alma Gladman (Buttercup), Dulcie Burtenshaw (Erin), Miss Hounsell (Mrs Giles), Miss Rapley (Dutch girl) and, Miss G. Wells ((Italian), Miss K. Brookshaw (Miss Muffet), Miss S. Wells (Dutch girl), Miss A. Lingley ("red, white and blue") and Miss N. Pearce (Italian).

The judges were the Reverend. E. V. Fenn, the Reverend R. H. C. Mertens, Mrs Bridgeman, Mr C. E. Shuttleworth, Mrs R. Anscombe and Mrs Denman. The prizes were awarded as follows: –

Ladies: First, Miss A. Lingley; second, Miss N. Pierce; third, Miss K. Rapley; fourth, Miss G. Wells.

Men: first, Mr W. Miles; second, Mr A. Rapley; third, Mr E. Attwater, fourth Mr J. Burridge; fifth, Mr C. Avery; sixth, Mr J. G. Winter; equal seventh, Mr G. Godsmark and Mr H Knight.

Girls: first Dulcie Burtenshaw; second, Winnie Etherton; third, Queenie Fisher; fourth, Alma Gladman; fifth, Millie Mays.

Boys: 1st, W. Staff; second, V. Gasson; third, F. Onslow; fourth, C. Cook. For the decorated cycles the prices went to Mr H. Gladman and Mr E. Stoner.

When the band struck up for dancing many entered the ring, finding the ground as slippery – though not so firm – as a polished floor. The M.C.’s were Mrs B. Miles, H. Hillman, B. Denman and C. H. Avery. At 10 o'clock the bonfire was lighted, and right well did it burn. Ere the crowd dispersed they sang the National Anthem and gave three hearty cheers for the King and Queen.

The chairman of the General committee was Mr R. A. Bevan, J. P., and Mr C. Hobson and Mr E. E. Morfee ably carried out the secretarial work.

Appended are all the names of those who served on the sub committees: – Tea Committee – Mr W. E. Mitchell (chairman, Reverend R and Mrs Fisher, Mrs Reid, Mrs Waugh, Mrs Morfee, Mrs Cleare, Mrs Goldring, Miss Best, Miss Payne, Miss Turner, Mrs E. Gosden and W. Herrington.

Sports Committee – Mrs J. Denman (Chairman), R Anscombe, T.E.P. Attewell, H. Askew, Jun, J.Bone, R.Harris, S.Knight, T.Lewin, E.E. Morfee, S.Pierce and A.T. Rapley.

Mug committee – Mr S. Knight (chairman), Reverend E. V. Fenn, Rev S. Maddock, Messrs M. Bridgman, W.Herrington and W. Stevens.

Bonfire Committee - Messrs T.I.Symons (Chairman), H. Burt and W.Fry.

Fireworks Committee- Messrs F. Hounsell (chairman), H. Askew, Sen., G.T. Bunting, H. MacFadyen and C.H. Waugh.

Ground Committee - Rev E. V. Fenn, Messrs. H. Burt, J.Denman, H. Mac Fadyen, W. Fry, W.Herrington, F. Hounsell, S. Knight, E.E. Morfee and W.E. Mitchell.

Carnival Committee - Messrs J Denman (Chairman), C.H. Avery, C. C. Avery, R. Avery, M. Anscombe, F. V. Brooks, B. Denman, T. Elder, G. Godsmark, G. Gibson, R. Hillman, B. Miles, W. Miles, E. Mitchell, H. Mac Fayen, W. Robinson, B. Robinson and S. Knight, Jun.

As souvenirs of the occasion, children under 15 years of age had Coronation mugs given them.

On Friday the inmates of the Workhouse had reason to rejoice over the Coronation, thanks to the Cuckfield Board of Guardians. Adults and children had an extra good dinner, and didn’t they smack their lips as they partook of it! “Had we been dining in a swanky ‘tommy’ house,” said one delighted old fellow, “we couldn’t have had a much better tuck in.” Then everybody had a feast of strawberries, and each man had handed to him an ounce of tobacco, each woman a quarter pound of tea, a pound of sugar, and a packet of sweets, and each child a packet of sweets and (through the kindness of Mr. C.Clarke, of Haywards Heath) a toy.

On Saturday evening the Workhouse Officers and Staff dined together in the old Board Room, and they were one happy family. The Master (Mr Gosden) occupied the head of the table, having on his right Sister Swarbrick, and on his left Mr Judd (Labour Master) and Mrs Judd. In the vice-chair was the Chaplain (the Rev. R.H.C. Mertens) who had on his right the matron (Mrs Gosden). An appetising spread was laid, and the little jokes which were cracked from time to time actually made the phiz go pop, the “trifle” rise with importance, the blancmange and jelly shake their sides, and the strawberries roll into the cream! After dinner several toasts were submitted, first place, of course being given to that of “the King”. No less heartily drunk was “The Health of the Guardians,” on the call of the Master, who pointed out that it was the Board’s kindly action that enabled that festive gathering to be held, and for the generous consideration shown them the officers and staff were sincerely grateful. (Applause). The Chaplain gave the toast of “The Medical Officer.” As those before him were aware, he said, Dr Wells had a day or two previously undergone a very serious operation, but he (the speaker) was pleased to be able to report that the latest information from the Haywards Heath Cottage Hospital was that Dr Wells was progressing satisfactorily. (Applause) it would be a graceful action if they were to send Dr. Wells a telegram having been dispatched, the healths of the Master and Matron and other officers were drunk , and then the company made their way to the Matron’s drawing room, where music and singing and games gave pleasure to all.

As the weather cleared on Saturday evening the Carnival Committee obtained permission from the Rev. R. Fisher to use the Vicarage meadow for the display of fireworks. The news soon spread, and a throng of people congregated near the Congregational church and admired the many pretty things that were fired into the sky. Fairy lights, shining through glasses of blue and white and green and gold, adorned a number of dwellings, and finally, headed by the Band, there was a procession through the town of masqueraders carrying blazing torches, the decorated cars and the “Sunstar airship” (referred to elsewhere) also adding to the picturesqueness of the spectacle. It was close upon half past eleven before the merry-making ceased, and as there was no mishap throughout Cuckfieldians will happily remember the Coronation of King George V.

For more on the Coronation please follow the link:-


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