Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, on 21st June 1887, started with a bang. At 9.00am there was a royal salute of guns. The programme for the day, with dinner for the men and boys and a meat tea for the ladies and children, along with the prizes awarded for the sports events are indicative of the time. Unfortunately we have no record of what happened at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee but the village enjoyed more sports at the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. In “Langham Lads” (published by Langham Village History Group),Bill Nourish recalls the events of King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935 when, again, a programme of sports took place on the cricket field in Ashwell Road. Novelty races, such as a wheelbarrow race for husbands and wives, were included. The slow bicycle race was a bit of a fiasco, as the Scouts had discovered that if they turned the front wheel tight in the lock they could stand still. Tea and cakes were served to the ladies and children in a marquee, and beer was available for the men in the pavilion. Bill and Jim Hubbard, both aged fifteen, were refused beer, but, after much protesting, were allowed half a pint. Langham Brownies commemorated the Jubilee by planting three trees, a plum tree, Christmas tree and silver birch, near the Scout Hut which then stood on glebe land in Church Street. The late Lily Walker remembered that foggy November day. She recalled that, fortunately for the Brownies, the Vicar’s gardener did most of the heavy work, ably assisted by the Vicar’s wife. Sadly, the Christmas Tree died, some cows ate the Plum Tree but the Silver Birch survives to this day, happily growing in the garden of Glebefield in Church Street. For the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 there were six days-worth of events including Beer and Bangers and mystery auction; Flower Festival and service of thanksgiving; Village Walk; Beer Barrel Push between the village pubs and inter-pub cricket match (according to the Stamford Mercury the cricket was postponed due to rain). The main events took place on Sharrad’s Field (now the polo ground) which was decorated with bunting actually produced by a Langham company. There was a fancy dress competition, decorated bicycles and, yes, more sports. The ‘Langham Lovelies’, an enthusiastic group of girls with red, white and blue streamers in hand, presented an entertaining dancing display, despite having to contend with some very long grass. Lady Ruddle oversaw the catering arrangements. In her own inimitable way, she organised a representative in every street to prevail upon their neighbours for refreshments. The result was the greatest number of cakes ever seen in Langham at any one time. In the evening there was a barbecue and bar at the field for those revellers who wished to continue the celebrations. Royal Wedding celebrations in 1981, focused on the Village Hall and Church Street with an afternoon Street Party. Decorated bicycles and fancy hats and a barbecue formed part of the attractions. The barbecue, made from large oil drums was very popular, though a nearby resident feared for his thatched roof. It was so hot that one of the “chefs” lost his spectacles as they slipped off his nose into the hot coals. The representative from the insurance company declared this to be the first claim of its kind he had known. On Golden Jubilee Day 2002, committee members were busy early in the morning decorating the village hall, blowing up balloons and putting up bunting at the school and along and across Church Street. The atmosphere was already building. The main celebrations began with the chairman of the Parish Council, arriving at the school in a vintage car for an afternoon of activities which included maypole dancing and a decorated wheel-barrow contest, as well as tea and cakes. Not long before the evening street party was due to begin there was a heavy shower but, fortunately, it was the last rain of the day and villagers began to arrive in Church Street dressed for the occasion and carrying tables, chairs, tablecloths and cutlery to enjoy a barbecue and bar. There was dancing inside and outside the Village Hall and the disco ended with Martha and the Vandellas singing ‘Dancing in the Street’. Langham folk needed no invitation for this! The festivities ended with a surprise firework display. Some Memories of the Coronation in 1953: “June 2nd 1953, my mother’s birthday and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. Before that there had been a period of national anxiety concerning the King’s health, then the sadness of his sudden death (we all wore black armbands at school), followed by the solemnity of the state funeral. Now the mourning was over and the coronation of our beautiful young Queen was expected to herald the start of a second golden Elizabethan age, no wonder everyone was in the mood to rejoice. Our family, like a lot of others, had followed with interest all the reports from the expedition to climb Mount Everest, one of the world’s last great challenges. The news broadcast on coronation day that Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing had reached the top was an extra reason to celebrate. I was fifteen and living in Langham, I wish I had a better memory to tell you about the day. A television had been installed in the main room at the Institute (Village Hall) for villagers to watch the events, so I went along with Mother. The screen was small by today’s standards with the picture in black and white, and although I regularly saw films at Oakham cinema it was the first time we had seen television. We thought it was wonderful to see everything as it was happening. I remember that Queen Salote of Tonga, a traditionally-built lady and a queen in her own right, impressed me with her warm smile though she must have found the carriage ride rather chilly. Otherwise my recollection is hazy, I think cups of tea were available and I feel the gathering was mainly female, certainly my father and brothers were not there. Can anyone else fill in the details please?” Freda Smithson “I remember watching television at the home of Mr and Mrs Swinton of Well Street. In the afternoon there was an event in the cricket field with a fancy dress competition. I had been in a ballet show and wore the same costume. It was an emerald green dress, scarlet head scarf and white apron – I think it was Irish. Pat Wolfe had made my sister, who would have been three years old a costume which looked as though she was standing in a basket of flowers. All the school children were given a commemorative cup and saucer and later in the month, the whole school walked to the Oakham cinema to see ‘A Queen is Crowned’.” Brenda Burdett “We watched the coronation on a television set built by her father. I was Queen Elizabeth I in the fancy dress competition. The costume had lots of green crepe paper over a red skirt and I didn’t ride on the lorry from the school to the cricket field for fear that the green would run in the rain.” Ann Grimmer
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Langham’s Celebrations for Royal Occasions - Gill Frisby
Langham Village History Group