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Remembering the Coronation Celebrations of 1937

As the Southwater of 2022 prepares the bunting, street parties and Union Jack face paints to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, we turned to the Southwater Library archives to investigate Royal celebrations of the past. One fascinating anecdote, from the “History of Southwater 1907 - 1977” by Audrey Charman is of the 1937 Coronation, as we document here…

The 1937 Coronation saw George VI and his wife Elizabeth become King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth. George VI ascended to the throne following the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Edward’s Coronation had been planned for 12 May, and it was decided that George’s ceremony would take place on the same date. 

The procession through the streets of London was over six miles in length, with over 32,000 soldiers and 20,000 police officers joining members of the public to line the streets to wave the Royals past. 

Closer to home, the village came together to celebrate with an afternoon of fun and games. According to Audrey Chapman’s diary of the day, the weather was bright and warm, helping the events to go to plan. Incredibly, he provided a full documentation of the day’s programme, which had been drawn up by a Village Committee. 

Commencing at 2.30pm, there were 27 races and sports taking place as part of the Programme of Sports.

  1. Boys, 7 - 14, 100 yards Flat Race
  2. Girls, 7 - 14, 100 yards Flat Race
  3. Boys, 7 - 14, Throwing the Cricket Ball
  4. Girls, 7 - 14, Potato Race
  5. Girls and Boys under 7, Flat Race, 50 yards
  6. Boys, 7 - 14, Sack Race
  7. Girls, 7 - 14, Three-legged Race
  8. Boys, 7 - 14, 220 yards Flat Race
  9. Girls and Boys under 7, Egg and Spoon Race
  10. Girls, 7 - 14, Egg and Spoon Race
  11. Men and Boys over 14, Throwing the Cricket Ball
  12. Ladies’ Novelty Race
  13. Veterans’ Race, Men Over 60
  14. Men and Boys over 14, 220 yards Flat Race
  15. Girls, 7 - 14, Flower Pot Race
  16. Men, Putting the Weight
  17. Boys, 7 - 14, Sack Bumping
  18. Men’s Relay Race, Teams of 4
  19. Boys’ Relay Race, Teams of 4
  20. Ladies’ Egg and Spoon Race
  21. Men’s High Jump
  22. Boys, 7 - 14, High Jump
  23. Men’s Obstacle Race
  24. Boys, 7 - 14, High Jump
  25. Men’s Sack Race
  26. Tug of War - The Brickyard vs The Rest
  27. Tug of War - Ladies

19:15 Fancy Dress Football Match

Prize distribution after the relay of The King’s Speech, in the Village Hall

20:30 Concert and Bonfire

21:30 Dance

22:30 Judging of Fancy Dress Costumes

All in all, it sounded like a great day for the Southwater villagers of 1937. The total cost to the village for the celebrations came to £54. 2. 3 ¾, with 300 commemorative mugs being handed out to those who took part. You would need quite a few more mugs to hand out to everyone expected at the village celebration this time round! For all of the details of the upcoming Jubilee celebrations, please see the Southwater Community Partnership page. 

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