1953 Coronation Celebrations

by Neil Rogers-Davis

With World War II over and a new Queen on the throne, the monarchy entered a period of high expectation and much public enthusiasm.  John KnaggsCommunities throughout the kingdom celebrated her coronation with some fervour.

But how did Angmering mark the occasion?  Firstly, the village set up a Coronation Celebration Committee chaired by John Knaggs (see photo, right), the local scoutmaster.  The committee consisted of representatives from village organisations including the Rector (Rev WH Oswald), the priest in charge of St Wilfrid’s RC Church (Fr. HJ Kelleher), and the headmaster of Older’s Charity School (Mr Leslie Cunnington).

One of the first actions to be taken was the sending of a telegram of Loyal Greetings to Queen Elizabeth II by the chairman of the Parish Council, Mr A de B Haughton.  It read:

“The people of Angmering send loyal greetings on the occasion of Your Majesty’s Coronation, and their sincere good wishes for a long and happy reign”.

Jean BridgerCelebrations commenced in earnest on 29th May 1953 with a Social & Dance at the Village Hall with music by The Accordionaires.  This was held between 8.00 pm and midnight (Tickets 2/-) and it is interesting to note that the programme indicated that there was a late bus to East Preston, Rustington and Littlehampton (more than we’ve got today!). During the event, Miss Jean Bridger was crowned as Angmering’s Coronation Queen by Cllr A de B Haughton (see photo, left).

The next day, Sunday 31st May, and the following two days, special coronation services were held at St Margaret’s Church, St. Wilfrid’s Church, and at the Baptist Chapel.

The 1st June saw the judging of decorated houses, shops and trade premises.  There were three prizes for private houses with a top prize of £2 (worth about £35 today based on RPI increases or about £90 based on the increase in average earnings) and the single commercial prize was 2 guineas. Woods the butchers won the prize for the best decorated shop.

On Coronation Day itself (2nd June), a public holiday, the programme was as follows:

2.00 pm     Carnival Parade.  Village organisations and individuals in fancy dress.
3.00 pm     Comic Cricket Match.  Cricket Club v Football Club.
4.30 pm     Tea for Children and presentation of Coronation Mugs.Parade
8.30 pm     Dancing on Fletcher’s Field (until 10.30 pm).
11.00 pm   Bonfire & fireworks on spare ground in Ham Manor near Village Hall.

At 2.00pm the Tableaux Procession formed in The Square and many village organisations were represented - the Scouts, Cubs, B.P. Guild of Scouts, Guides, Brownies, Stoolball Club, Women's Institute, British Legion, Darby & Joan Club, St Wilfrid's Club, and Bird Fanciers' Club - all ready to accompany Angmering's Coronation Queen and her attendants who were transported in a vintage Rolls-Royce. Adults and children in fancy dress added to the colourful scene.

On reaching the Palmer Road Recreation Ground, judging of the Tableaux took place. The Stoolball Club's minstral tableau was awarded first prize, the WI's craft tableau was second, and the Scouts gained third prize as "Robin Hood and his Men".

The Angmering Coronation Day parade was intended to follow a defined route through the village, up the hill past the church and on to a Coronation Day fete/street party held on the Palmer Road Recreation Ground.

Edward Smith (owner of Percivals Nursery in Station Road) had been asked to lead the parade with his then brand new Ferguson TEA-20 tractor and trailer (see photo below). Unfortunately (according to his son, Richard) he took the wrong turning into the field and led the entire procession into a cul-de-sac. They then had to turn each vehicle round and reassemble to go the right way into the field. Richard suggests it would have made a wonderful “Dads Army” type sketch!

Photo: © Richard Smith, 2008. Coronation Parade on Church Hill.

Sports events for adults and children took place later in the afternoon, but the weather was somewhat inclement with a biting wind and some showers.The dancing planned to take place on Fletcher's Field in the evening had to be moved to the Village Hall. However, the bonfire and fireworks organised by the Scouts on Ham Manor Field went ahead as planned.

A Dance for Teenagers was held the following day at the Village Hall, again with music by The Accordionaires (Tickets 1/-) and on 4th June a Coronation Partner Whist Drive was held in the Hall with an excellent main prize of £2 for Top. The next day (Friday) saw a Supper & Entertainment event in the Hall for the Over 60s (see photo below), the entertainment being provided by local “artists”.

Coronation Supper at Village Hall

The week’s celebrations concluded on Saturday 6th June with a Grand Closing Dance in the Village Hall (Tickets 2/-).  Who provided the music?  The Accordionaires, of course!

Neil Rogers-Davis
December 2008

Page first uploaded: 1 December 2008 (revised 14 Dec 2010)