The Coronation of King Charles III

Next month, in collaboration with Clevedon Town Council, we will be announcing our plans for celebrating the coronation of King Charles III. In the meantime, the Trust has enlisted the help of Jane Lilly in looking back at how the town has celebrated such occasions in the past.

Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria – 22nd June 1897 (CP&HT Archive)

It starts with the man who kept a queen away from the coronation of her husband. William Dorset Fellowes, whose father was described as being Dr William Fellowes of Clevedon, served as as Acting Deputy Great Chamberlain at the Prince Regent’s coronation as George IV in 1821. The Prince and his wife had separated by that time and William Dorset Fellowes personally barred the door of Westminster Hall against Queen Caroline’s entry. His older sister, Anne, was the Royal Herb Strewer at the event – the last time that herbs were strewed at a British coronation. The Fellowes family was well-established at Court, as Dr Fellowes was Physician Extraordinary to the Regent, and a younger son was his Chaplain in Ordinary.

Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838, the same year as the dedication of Christ Church in Clevedon. We celebrated here in great style. There was a procession of bands and notable local gentlemen round the town, with banners and music. Forty four of the gentlemen had a good dinner at the Royal Hotel in Hill Road [on the Friary site].

Schoolchildren did well, being given cake and wine, while the poor had a feast of beef, bread, beer and cider in a field facing the Channel where a large marquee had been erected.

Gannicliffts Shop in the Triangle – George V and Queen Mary 1911 (Jane Lilly Collection)
Caple’s shop Alexandra Road – Dressed for a Royal Jubilee (Jane Lilly Collection)

Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, was crowned in 1902, and in 1903, Clevedonians stood in Sixways in August to watch the Earl Temple of Stowe unveil a tall, cast-iron clock tower. Residents of Sixways and the area had put out flags and bunting in their gardens. Twenty five feet tall the clock tower housed a clock with four dials illuminated at night. It struck the hours and the quarters. Around the base were three drinking fountains and dog troughs, as well as a brass tablet recording the event. In due course the clock was scrapped during WW2, because it didn’t keep time. The pendulum hung above the old dew pond, and as the Council hadn’t kept the stone base well-pointed, water filled the pond again – the clock stood no chance!

The Six Ways Coronation Clock (Rob Townsend Collection)

 Several photographs survive of shops fronts decorated for Royal occasions, often with dozens of small glass nightlights to be lit by hand at night. Flags and portraits of the new monarch would be displayed in the windows, too. In the main, the custom seems to have been to give the schoolchildren and the poor a treat, have a good dinner for those who could afford to pay, and organise a procession through the town. The Pier also played a part, typically by decorating the entry gate.

The Proclamation of George V – 7th May 1910 – Triangle Clock Tower (Jane Lilly Collection)

In 1953, the town guide contained this paragraph from the Council Chairman to mark the Coronation of our late Queen.

‘In Coronation Year, Clevedon will, I hope, appeal to the visitor as a typically English town where old-world charm and peace may be combined with all the amenities of a modern resort.’

Jane Lilly

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