The Royal Wedding 1863

In 1863 King Edward VII, at that time still Prince of Wales, was married to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. Celebrations of the Royal Wedding took place across the country, including here in Warrington.

Royal Wedding 1863

I have two items recording to the town’s celebrations to share with you today. Because I like to represent all views if I can, and because no two of us Warringtonians are likely to have the same opinion, I have included one which lauds the festivities and one which pokes fun at them.

We will start with the item in support:

Here we have a commemorative programme listing all of the dignitaries and organisations taking part in a celebratory procession through the town, along with where they join the procession.

Leading the procession is the Chief Constable on horseback followed by three trumpeters. After him come the various schools in the town, each school led by a local dignitary also on horseback. After the various schools come the cadet corps, the volunteer regiment and the local militia. Following them is the Mayor and councillors, including the police, fire brigade and other council officials. Next we have the magistrates and the Overseers of the Poor, followed by members of the local gentry. After the gentry come the tradesmen, including the town’s printers who bring a printing press drawn on a lorry by four horses. Finally we have representatives of the various Friendly Societies (friendly societies were groups who joined together to provide health care, burial costs, etc to members in times of need in return for a weekly membership fee).

The event was obviously a major affair and would have been quite a spectacle. It seems fair to say that the town would have been brought to a standstill.

The second item I want to share with you is a mock version of the same programme drawn up by some unidentified local wag.

There are various little quips about the how much the council has spent and how self-aggrandising various members of the procession are, not to mention a fair old smattering of references to drunken officials.

I have copied the document for you here, but will run through some of the comical re-interpretations of the original for you as the print is very small.

The Chief Constable is again listed as heading the parade, but this time we are told that he is in full armour and riding a “camel leopard” (an old term for a giraffe).  The fire brigade will draw a councillor on the top of a ladder who will lecture the public on how the council has no money to spare on residents, but the £5000 spent on this procession doesn’t count.

The town’s magistrates will ride in a carriage pulled by ticket of leave men (prisoners on early release) and the mayor will ride on a dray cart.

We hear of council officials drawn in sedan chairs, oriental howdahs, and paniers, or if too drunk pushed in wheelbarrows or prams.

The route of the procession this time takes in less salubrious parts of town, such as Ship Yard, Gas Street, and Cockhedge. Here it is joined by the likes of street scavengers in a dung cart and chimney sweeps bearing sacks of soot, before reaching the “Flashy End” of town where the “fancy” join the procession.

We also read that the town’s drinking fountains will flow with Brandy, but will be guarded by members of the Order of Rechabites (a Friendly Society set up by temperance supporters).

So, if you are feeling that people have gone a bit overboard with this year’s royal wedding celebrations, just be thankful there isn’t a parade of hundreds through the town centre; and if you are feeling that the town hasn’t celebrated enough, then why not use this as a template for the next royal event?

This article was originally posted on Friday, May 18th, 2018.